The anticipated Chester City connection to the East Coast Greenway is one step closer to reality, thanks to a $60,000 grant announced this week by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The project is part of a $574,974 funding package DEP will distribute to support protection and restoration efforts within the Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone as part of its Coastal Zone Management (CZM) program.
In addition to climate resiliency, habitat improvement, and public education, the funding aims to promote more equitable river access in communities historically cut off from the Delaware.
“PEC is proud to continue to work with the City of Chester, which has demonstrated a real commitment to enhancing the quality of life of its residents and showcasing the City’s historical and cultural significance through both the Highland Avenue and Norris Street projects,” PEC Senior Program Manager Emilia Crotty said at a press event held Wednesday in Chester.
“The Norris Street East Coast Greenway connector project will provide residents with safe and comfortable access to the Delaware River and the terrific River Path, an asset that offers residents the tremendous physical and mental health benefits of outdoor recreation, access to nature, and connection to community, which is especially important right now.”
PEC will coordinate the engineering and design of the project under a separate grant from the William Penn Foundation in support of Circuit Trails. The East Coast Greenway through Pennsylvania is a critical regional trail component of the Circuit Trails. The connector is one of many trail initiatives on which PEC has collaborated with the City of Chester over the years, including development and implementation of the City’s 2018 Parks Plan.
“At the same time,” Crotty said, “the project provides a critical through-linkage for longer distance commuters and recreational users.”
Spanning 112 miles across Bucks, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties, the Delaware Estuary coastal zone is the world’s largest freshwater port and a highlight of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway from Maine to Florida. The Chester Creek Trail is also an important connection in the growing Circuit Trails network.
“Our coastal zones are vital environmental, economic, and community resources for the Commonwealth,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Each year, the diverse Coastal Zone projects help us rethink, reexamine, and rededicate our efforts towards a comprehensive approach to ensuring the sustainability of these habitats.”