It’s going to be an eventful year at Glen Foerd on the Delaware.
Officials from the city-owned, independently managed riverfront estate plan to introduce a variety of recreational, environmental and artistic programs throughout the coming year and beyond. Executive Director Meg Sharp Walton gave the site’s neighbors a rundown on those initiatives during the monthly meeting of the East Torresdale Civic Association on Monday night.
As previously reported by the Northeast Times on Dec. 14, the 18-acre property at 5001 Grant Ave. will undergo physical improvements with the installation of a launch for small, non-motorized boats on Poquessing Creek. A $519,000, two-year grant from the William Penn Foundation will fund the new facility along with coordinated programs that will open the water to guided tours while linking directly to the North Delaware Greenway trail in “bike to boat” model, Sharp Walton said.
Glen Foerd will hire a full-time environmental educator who will lead small-boat excursions on the lower Pennypack and an adjoining stretch of the Delaware River, teaching visitors about the local ecology and its history. Glen Foerd will collaborate with area student boat-building groups and offer special-needs outings on the water.
Although the actual launch won’t be fully operational until late spring or summer 2018, Sharp Walton said, Glen Foerd wants to debut some of the programs on a pilot basis this year, utilizing perhaps the public boat launch at Linden Avenue. And the estate is soliciting for ideas of additional programs that may attract more public interest to the site.
Outside of the water-related projects, Sharp Walton and her staff are considering ways to make better use of a stone, ivy-covered water tower on the estate as well as the site of a former orchard. They plan to utilize some of that space to bring in beekeepers who will set up an active hive and conduct public workshops.
The site managers are also looking to start a small community garden (also on a trial basis at first), as well as a public composting program.
They hope to host a produce market and movie nights, and are trying to convince the Philadelphia Orchestra to perform one of its free public concerts in the shadow of the 19th-century riverfront mansion.
Immediate neighbors of Glen Foerd who are concerned about local impacts of the estate’s activities may seek to get involved in a working group established by City Councilman Bobby Henon last summer. The group last met to discuss security fencing that had been proposed for the perimeter of the property. Henon announced on Monday that the working group will meet again in February. A date has not been finalized.
In a separate piece of piece of business, Henon presented ETCA President Lew Halas with a $1,200 Philadelphia activities grant. The group may use the funding to cover a variety of expenses ranging from printing and postage to coffee for its meetings, Henon said.
Kareem Davis of the Pennsylvania State Police’s Liquor Control Enforcement bureau advised neighbors that they can obtain information about any state-issued liquor licenses or licensees by contacting the LCE’s Philadelphia office via 215–726–6200. Folks can find out about special permits issued by the state and file complaints about problematic businesses.
Halas announced that the civic group plans to consider two zoning topics at its Feb. 13 meeting. One case involves the expansion of a dentist’s office and parking area at 9531 Frankford Ave.
A second issue involves the re-designation of several properties in the neighborhood as part of the City Planning Commission’s Philadelphia 2035 plan. The goal is to make it harder for developers to subdivide single-home properties, Halas said.
The session will be held at 7 p.m. at Liberty Evangelical Free Church, Linden Avenue and Milnor Street. ••