The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced $574,974 in funding Wednesday for 12 projects aimed at protecting parts of the Delaware River coastal zone.
One grant of $60,000 would go toward designing an East Coast Greenway extension in Chester to provide residents more access to the river that many are cut off from. The money comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration but is administered by the DEP.
The East Coast Greenway is being patched together to connect 450 towns for 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. More than 1,000 miles have been completed. The hiking and biking trail runs through small towns and densely populated areas like Philadelphia.
Chester currently has a minimal multiuse 1.3-mile-long segment of the East Coast Greenway Trail along the Delaware River waterfront and an eighth-mile-long pedestrian path. The new funding would assist plans to extend that network by connecting the existing trail with the Norris Street Trail. Ultimately, the trail will allow users to cross PA-291, as part of a larger three-mile trail loop.
The Norris Street Trail connects to the Greater Philadelphia’s Circuit Trails, a growing regional network counting hundreds of miles of multi-use trails.
Additionally, a $50,000 grant would go to John Bartram Association to support education staff at a FloatLab at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia that’s expected to open by 2023.
The FloatLab would extend over the river and feature a sloped platform that “allows visitors to engage directly with the river at eye level.” It would be supported on eight ballast chambers below the ring-shaped walking surface, allowing it to stay level as the tide moves in and out.
DEP officials said Wednesday’s grants focus on projects emphasizing education, design, and engineering in what’s known as the Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone, or where the tidal waters meet shoreline. Officials said the zone faces development, erosion, habitat loss, and pollution pressures.
“Our coastal zones are vital environmental, economic, and community resources for the commonwealth,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said.
Other projects receiving funding within the zone lie in Philadelphia, Bucks, and Delaware Counties. They include:
$100,000 to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to manage the zone and spread the word about climate resiliency.
$112,384 to the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary for Pennsylvania Coast Day 2022, an event to educate the public about coastal recreation, historic sites, and public access; and for residents and youth to participate in clean-water stewardship through freshwater mussel education.
$40,000 to PA Cleanways / Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful for community and marine cleanups.
$75,000 to Fairmount Park Conservancy for a landscape architect to create a restoration plan for Pattison Lagoon in Philadelphia’s FDR Park.
$12,590 to Glen Foerd Conservation Corp. for a historical boathouse structural plan.
$70,000 to Bucks County for design of a Levittown trail.
$20,000 to the Heritage Conservancy for a stewardship program at Bristol Marsh and Croydon Woods.
$40,000 to Marcus Hook to develop a Market Square Memorial Park Delaware River pier removal and reconstruction master plan.