Do you know about the Circuit Trails?

Greater Philadelphia is the proud home of the Circuit Trails, a vast regional network of hundreds of miles of multi-use trails that is growing in size each year. The Circuit connects our local communities, providing endless opportunities for recreation and commuting, according to circuittrails.org. So whether you bike it, walk it or run it, the point is — just enjoy it.

At a recent meeting at the new Springfield Township library, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh gave a presentation on Montgomery County’s work on the environment, open space and trail networks.

The commissioner broke the news that the county will be completing the section of trails connecting Forbidden Drive/Northwestern Avenue with the Wissahickon/Green Ribbon Trail at Fort Washington Park with a projected start date of late 2018.

Commissioner Arkoosh identified the county’s role in planning and coordination with townships, as well as other stakeholders like the Delaware Valley Planning Commission and the William Penn Foundation, to accomplish the “Protect — Preserve — Connect” mission.

Also highlighted was the Montgomery County 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which outlines the vision for the future of Montgomery County. The plan is available for the public on the county website.

Locally, our best kept secret is the Cresheim Trail, which is a proposed multi-use trail for Springfield and Cheltenham townships and parts of Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. The trail can link us to neighborhoods, parks and playgrounds, libraries, schools and shops. It will provide access to local amenities such as the Wissahickon Trail, Fairmont Park, Fort Washington State Park, Morris Arboretum and Dixon Meadow at the Erdenheim Farm.

The appreciation of trails by communities has grown in recent years. Trails and walkable communities have been recognized as a positive factor on housing values. Almost 20 years ago, Abington Township turned down a state grant for a trail. This year, Abington sought and was awarded a $715,000 grant for a bike and pedestrian trail by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. This was part of $7.9 million awarded to the region for trails.

The Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT) have supported planning and development of the trail. FoCT has developed trails in Fairmount Park along Cresheim Drive. FoCT successfully advocated for authorization of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department to obtain the train trestle over Germantown Avenue and to lease the right-of-way for the trail section in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy.

FoCT Executive Director Susan Dannenberg presented the Cresheim Trail development to the Springfield Township commissioners in the summer of 2017. Recently, the Friends of the Cresheim Trail welcomed Rob Goldberg and Patrick Hynes, of Springfield Township, and John Raisch, of Cheltenham Township, as new board members. There is a Facebook page, Friends of the Cresheim Trail, where residents can learn more about the trail and volunteer work days.

Commissioner Arkoosh reported that Montgomery County will be working on an updated feasibility study for the Cresheim Trail in 2019. The original Feasibility Report for the Cresheim Trail (2008), prepared by Campbell Thomas & Co. Architects, is available at cresheimtrail.org/feasibility-study.

Wyndmoor resident and former FoCT board member Charlie Karl shared his enthusiasm: “Everyone can enjoy a stroll on the trail. You may want to watch for birds or flowers or enjoy the company of friends and family. Perhaps you want to exercise for health and fitness or simply clear your head and get some fresh air. Or you may just want to get somewhere without having to take the car. Happy trails to you!”

Pat Hynes said, “I’m looking forward to this trail. I wish it had been there when my kids were growing up. People will really like it.”

The Springfield Township Environmental Advisory Commission meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Free Library of Springfield Township, 8900 Hawthorne Lane, Wyndmoor. Public participation is always encouraged.

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