A celebration of our coolest natural resource — get wet this Summer in East Falls! (PHOTO CREDIT: Liz Vaden)
Summertime is water fun time! Locals head to the beaches & bays “downa Shore,” the cool lakes of Poconos, or reliable neighborhood swimming holes — even the ones you have to blow up, or turn on with a wrench. When the weather gets hot, everyone craves a good splish-splash! (as demonstrated so enthusiastically by Cash, pictured.)
Wherever you go to get your aquatic fix, let’s take a moment to appreciate our water here at home. The Schuylkill and Wissahickon aren’t as “sexy” as oceans or waterfalls, but they provide an abundance of outdoor fun and natural beauty. Plus, they’re a critical source of Philadelphia’s drinking water too. Take that, inflatable lawn pool!
The best part is, water sells itself! No need for a finger-wagging Public Service Announcement on water quality when East Falls is full of great ways to get first-hand experience like hiking, biking, paddling, fishing…
As our river access grows, our neighborhood blooms with new recreational opportunities, prettier streets, a healthier ecosystem — maybe even community services like a new playground or dog park! That’s a win-win-win-win for the neighborhood and our waterways.
Walking in a Wissahickon Watershed
Unfortunately, it’s also really close to a proposed parking garage for PhilaU, part of the U’s master plan. (*UPDATE 1-27-16 PhilaU changed their plan to remove the parking garage and also they 86’d that ball park they were gonna build on the Nuts, too*).
Don’t worry, we’re not going to go into detail about the plan, but we did get a chance to tour the site with our dog pack to get a sense of exactly what would be lost if the garage was built. If you’re walking along Schoolhouse, you should check it out for yourself.
You can read more about local Jon Berger’s take on PhilaU’s plan here.
But don’t take his word for it (in fact many haven’t — he’s been accused of being a NIMBY by some residents and at least one PhilaU representative). Dr. Carol Ann Gross-Davis, an East Falls resident and professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, has a different take. She doesn’t live on Timber Lane or Apalogen Road, so she isn’t as familiar with the proposed site of the garage.
Her issue is with the master plan in general. She says it’s an engineering plan focused primarily on where to build, not a sustainability plan, which would take into account factors such as light, noise, and automotive pollution as well as water runoff and the public health impact (including things like heat island effects) that come with eliminating green space.
Furthermore, she doesn’t see how the current plan will achieve a carbon neutral status by 2035, which is what the U pledged to do when they signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).
She finds it strange that a university that teaches landscape architecture and has won a sustainability award in the past should create a master plan with so little concern for sustainability. She is also curious why the U did not use its own sustainability program as a resource in the development of the plan.
Ultimately, she hopes the U can present a more innovative plan, one that tells a better, more creative story about their future growth.
Way to go East Falls! Philly’s first stormwater bumpouts were installed right here on Queen Lane. The Philadelphia Water Department is mighty proud of them too and is looking to spread the word about these clean, green filters. (The plants filter out road surface toxins from stormwater runoff, resulting in cleaner water flowing into the Schuylkill.)
We’re hoping to get a tour of the bumpouts in June, to see them in action (and find out if we can make the de facto dogpark at the reservoir into a permanent one). Keep an eye on East Falls Local for more info!
If I Had a Boat
There are plenty of racing shells and dragon boats on the river but what about individual boats like canoes and kayaks? There are a few, but to get these boats in the water, you’d have to haul them up or down river to find a boat launch.
Why don’t we just build one in East Falls? Don’t worry, the East Falls Development Corporation is way ahead of you. They’ve been lobbying for a boat landing for years (at a site just north of the Falls Bridge) and it’s just been approved by the East Park Coalition (part of the Fairmount Park Conservancy). It’s scheduled to be built within 2-3 years, but we might be able to speed things up by emailing our thanks to the Conservancy (or generally bugging them about the timetable).
Lots going on for East Falls waterways — keep posted here and the links provided. But the best research we can all do is to swing outta the hammock every once in a while, and experience first-hand this fantastic resource we’ve got right in our own backyard.