LIMERICK — Connecting open spaces, sports parks and even sidewalks, Limerick has long-range plans to get its residents moving — on an extensive trail network.
First envisioned in a 2013 vision plan, the township has been steadily using grant money to build a trail network.
It focused first on two things, according to Township Manager Dan Kerr, trails that are centrally located and nearest to the greatest number of residents; and the township's property along the Schuylkill River and the potential to link to the Schuylkill River Trail.
Currently, the Schuylkill River Trail is continuous from Philadelphia to Parker Ford, just over the Linfield Bridge from three properties Limerick recently purchased as a link to a larger riverfront park.
The purchase of the three-acre property on Main Street, recognizable from the historic toll house that sits there, will eventually allow for public access to the 16-acre Schuylkill River Park just upstream.
Currently a study is being undertaken to determine the best way to connect those properties to the 17-acre Linfield Sports Park along Longview Road, which the township purchased in 2010.
The township also owns the 2-acre Trinley Park downstream along the river and hopes that when the former Publicker property is re-developed someday, that a 1.5 mile trail can be constructed through to Trinley.
But until those things are possible, the township has been focusing on what is possible now, said Kerr.
What is possible now is thanks to the foresight that resulted in the Greenways Master Plan, created through a $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
In May, the township completed its first connection between 94-acre Limerick Community Park and the 80-acre Kurylo Farm, 80 acres the township purchased in 2008 for $2.8 million.
Now a passive open space preserve, Kurylo was purchased with a $1.2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and another $1.14 million from the Montgomery County Open Space program.
The $300,000 connection was completed with $150,000 in grant money from DCNR and contributions by a developer who allowed an easement through a new subdivision and built the portion of the trail there as part of the project approval.
A new sidewalk along Limerick Center Road, past Limerick Elementary School and designed to connect the park with a trail along a PECO power line easement was built with $50,000 from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness foundation.
The connector between Ridge Pike and the Community Park has yet to be built, along with a short portion along Limerick Center Road and the cemetery adjacent to the New Apolstolic Church on Ridge Pike.
The first phase of trail beneath the power lines, about three-quarters of a mile from Limerick Center Road to Lewis Road, is nearly complete and was funded with $250,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Eventually that trail will be more than two miles, crossing Lewis Road, connecting to a trail in the Ashbrook Estates subdivision and reaching to Township Line Road at Upper Providence Township, said Kerr.
He said state Sen. John Rafferty, R-44th Dist. and state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th Dist., were both key to obtaining many of these grants.
On the north side of town, developers are part of the mix as well, with the trails and or sidewalk in both the Bradford Woods and Faircrest Farms sub-divisions that will be joined with a 51-unit project that was first approved for Toll Brothers in 2004.
But when the recession it, it sat dormant until now, when it was purchased by Sukonic, which will build the trail of more than one mile.
"In five years, we accessed just short of $1.5 million and there are more than seven miles of trail either build or under construction," Kerr said.