Should Township Pursue Rail to Trail Project?
Township Manager Robert Pellegrino asked the board if he should contact SEPTA about converting an unused rail into a multi-use trail.
Converting an unused SEPTA rail that runs through Northampton Township into a multi-use trail is a possibility, according to a recent discussion at July's Board of Supervisors meeting.
Township Manager Robert Pellegrino explained to the board that old SEPTA rail tracks, which span four and a half miles across the township, haven't been in use for some time. He asked if he should contact SEPTA to see if they plan to reactivate the line and then express interest in converting the rail.
If SEPTA has no plans on reactivating the line, they can give the township a long-term lease to convert it into a mutli-use trail for biking and hiking, Pellegrino said.
Township Supervisor George Komelasky said that before pursing this idea, the board should to get input from the community.
"There's overwhelming opposition for this," Komelasky said.
He went on to explain that there are already hundreds of acres of trails and parks in the township between state parks, county parks and local parks. To create a trail behind people's homes so that people from other towns can use it, might not be favored by the residents, he said.
"Before we move in this direction, gauge sentiment from others," Komelasky suggested.
One local resident already expressed disdain for the conversion. In a recent Local Voices blog, Fred Rosa explained why he thinks this rail to trail idea would be detrimental to the residents and urged the community to oppose the idea.
If the township plans to go through with the rail to trail conversion it would be responsible for the cost. According to Pellegrino, grant funds are available for projects like this. He said, however, that at this time he has no idea how much that would cost. But there is a similar model in Montgomery County that is a mile long that could be used as a jumping off point.
"I can get some sense of what that cost and get a ballpark estimate," Pellegrino said.
Pellegrino needs authorization from the board to contact SEPTA and inform them of the township's interest. But the supervisors suggested holding off on the idea for now.