2 Bodies Pulled From Schuylkill River In Philadelphia

Two men were stabbed, bound and their bodies sunk with a makeshift anchor in the Schuylkill River, while a third man found half-dressed said he had been abducted in a bizarre series of events off Kelly Drive early this morning.

Philadelphia police were at the scene along the east side of the river, just past the John Kelly statue, for several hours this morning trying to untangle what happened to the three men.

The surviving victim told investigators that he had been grabbed by a group of about five men, thrown in the back of a van, stabbed, robbed and taken to the river with the two men whose bodies were later pulled from water. The other two were already in the van when he was abducted, the victim told police.

The investigation began around 4 a.m., when officers were called to the 2300 block of Kelly Drive, just past the statue, for a report of a man screaming, Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/2_pulled_from_Schuylkill_River_.html#Pqt8zJw3YJCdDiCQ.99

New Route 345 Bridges Open In Birdsboro

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BIRDSBORO, PA — Two new bridges carrying Route 345 over the Schuylkill River and the Norfolk Southern railroad are now open to traffic.

According to a press release from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s District 5, traffic was directed over the two new bridges for the first time on Thursday. There is no weight restriction on the new bridges, which daily carry 6,189 vehicles, PennDOT said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140815/new-route-345-bridges-open-in-birdsboro

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Announces Schuylkill River Trail Patrols

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

COURTHOUSE — The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department will be randomly sending up to three motorcycle-riding deputies to different parts of the Schuylkill River Trail to provide an extra level of security to trail users.

“We just want the people to know that those trails are a jewel to Montgomery County. They are used by thousands and thousands of people every year. Fortunately there are very little problems up there, but I’m all about preventing problems rather than trying to figure them out afterwards,” Montgomery County Sheriff Russell Bono said on Friday.

Bono said when he was the Norristown chief of police he did the same thing to protect trail users in the Norristown section of the trail.

“Now that I have a countywide position, our cycles are able to ride the entire trail,” he said.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140808/montgomery-county-sheriffs-department-announces-schuylkill-river-trail-patrols

Schuylkill River Trail Extensions Will Connect Pottstown, Phoenixville

POTTSTOWN — It’s a simple truth, one that Kurt Zwikl repeats often: the longer a trail, the more people it attracts.

So perhaps that’s why as executive director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Association, he is so excited about the nearly $10 million of work being planned for his trail along the Schuylkill River.

Listed among hundreds of projects approved for funding in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, two relatively little items in Chester County are big news in terms of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Though small, they form crucial connections between two completed portions of the trail — from Mont Clare to Phoenixville and from Parker Ford to Pottstown.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140801/schuylkill-river-trail-extensions-will-connect-pottstown-phoenixville

Armand Hammer Boulevard Bridge Over Route 422 Opens, More Work Coming

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, PA— Long-suffering Route 422 drivers may take heart in knowing that one phase of the work at the Armand Hammer Boulevard interchange is completed with the opening today of the bridge over Route 422, providing improved access into the former Firestone complex.

But more work is on the way, including the closure of the on-ramps and off-ramps on the eastbound portion of the highway.

As anyone who drives the highway regularly knows, for the past 16 months, PennDOT contractors have been working to replace the Route 422 bridge over the Schuylkill River between Lower Pottsgrove and North Coventry.

At the same time, they have been working on reconfiguring the Route 422 interchange with Armand Hammer Boulevard, located on the east side of the bridge replacement project.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140731/armand-hammer-blvd-bridge-over-rt-422-opens-more-work-coming

April Showers Swamp Region, Trigger Flooding

The rains came heavy Tuesday into Wednesday as if all those metaphorical April showers waited until the last day of the month to show up.

It all started when a low-pressure front slinked into the region Tuesday and started dumping rain into the area to the point that by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a United States Geological Survey rain gauge along the Schuylkill River had recorded nearly 5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

And, as you might expect, the result was creeks bursting their banks — along with the Schuylkill River they ultimately feed — and flooded roads, and then trapping some motorists on those roads after they tried to drive through the water.

One of at least four “water rescues” in the area occurred on Bethel Church Road in East Coventry when a small blue sedan stalled in a deep swell of water on the road.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140430/april-showers-swamp-region-trigger-flooding

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MCCC Wind Turbines Now Part Of Pottstown Landscape

Wind Ribbon Cutting

Wind Ribbon: Pictured cutting the ribbon during Montgomery County Community College’s wind turbine dedication on April 21 are (from left) MCCC Trustees Andrew Cantor and Ed Mullin, MCCC Trustee Chairman Michael D’Aniello, Pottstown Borough Mayor Sharon Thomas, MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout, MCCC West Campus Vice President Dr. Steady Moono, Pottstown Borough Council President Stephen Toroney, and Pa. Representative Mark Painter. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Pottstown, Pa—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) cut a symbolic green ribbon on April 21 to dedicate four brand new wind turbines at its West Campus in Pottstown.

Pa. Rep. Mark Painter, Pottstown Borough Council President Stephen Toroney and Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas joined College President Dr. Karen A. Stout and members of MCCC’s Board of Trustees in cutting the ceremonial ribbon. 

The 25-foot vertical axis wind turbines were recently installed outside MCCC’s Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center at 140 College Drive, adjacent to Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River. While the turbines won’t power major facilities on campus, the demo project will provide real-life teaching and learning opportunities for students and faculty.

Each wind turbine produces 1,000 watts of energy, for a combined 4,000 watts, enough energy to power the LED lighting in the Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center parking lot. The lightweight carbon fiber and fiberglass blades have a cut-in speed of 7.83 miles per hour, meaning that winds must be at least eight miles per hour to generate usable electricity.

While the turbines may look big in stature, they are quiet to operate. Each turbine produces about as much noise as a desktop computer—quieter than most air conditioning units. The turbines, which are similar to those found at Lincoln Financial Park in Philadelphia, are endorsed by the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the National Audubon Society, and by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Wind Turbines vertical

Wind Turbine Vertical: Four, 25-foot wind turbines now stand outside of Montgomery County Community College’s Schuylkill Riverfront Academic & Heritage Center. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

The new wind turbines are part of the College’s Guaranteed Energy Services Agreement with Siemens Industry Inc., which has enabled MCCC to implement a series of self-funding energy conservation projects. Collectively, these projects will result in 19 percent energy savings—and more than $6 million in cost savings—over the next 15 years.

Other conservation initiatives include converting several buildings from propane to natural gas; retrofitting lighting with energy-efficient units; weatherizing buildings; installing water-conservation commodes; improving heating and cooling units; upgrading building automation and energy management system; and incorporating renewable energy sources—like solar panels at MCCC’s Central Campus, and now wind turbines at MCCC’s West Campus in Pottstown.

To learn more about MCCC’s Sustainability Initiative, visit http://www.mc3green.wordpress.com.

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Changing Skyline: Parking Garages Threaten To Wall Off Schuylkill’s East Bank

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia spent the last decade working out a single, knotty planning problem: How should the old industrial spaces on the Delaware waterfront evolve? The consensus was that vacant land would be developed to resemble the rest of the city, with walkable streets, a mix of uses, and lively ground floors. No one was naive enough to think such projects could be realized without parking garages, but the expectation was that the structures would not dominate the river.

It’s a shame the conversation was never extended to the city’s other riverfront, the Schuylkill, which has come alive since a trail park pushed into Center City.

Like the Delaware, the Schuylkill is dotted with tracts of empty land crying out for housing, offices, and retail. But while little new has been built on the city’s big river – save for the suburban-style SugarHouse Casino – the Schuylkill is now sizzling with likely projects.

Predictably, each of the three proposals would front the river with a large, unsightly garage. They range from One Riverside’s modest, one-story garage at Locust Street to NP International’s multilevel, mega-development at Cherry Street. If built as designed, they would turn the bustling Schuylkill waterfront into Philadelphia’s own Great Wall of Parking.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20140328_Changing_Skyline__Parking_garages_threaten_to_wall_off_Schuylkill_s_east_bank.html#FYw7GIe2AssxRvpe.99

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Schuylkill River Heritage Area Receives $226,000 Grant

POTTSTOWN — On the heels of a $395,000 grant, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area was awarded a $226,000 Community Conservation Partnership Grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The money will be used to fund annual events sponsored by the Heritage Area, such as the Schuylkill River Sojourn and the Scenes of the Schuylkill juried art show.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140107/schuylkill-river-heritage-area-receives-226000-grant

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Pottstown Polar Bear Plunge, Bonfire, 5K Set For New Year’s Day

Although the National Weather Service is predicting below freezing weather for the first day of 2014, that has not stopped local groups of finding fun ways to ring in the new year.

The 6th Pottstown Polar Bear Club’s celebration and bonfire will begin at 10 a.m. at Riverfront Park.

Residents willing to brave the icy water can dive into the Schuylkill River at 10:30 a.m. then warm up with hotdogs, sauerkraut for $2 as well as hot chocolate and coffee for $1.

Registration for the plunge starts at 9 a.m. at the park and ends at 10 a.m. at which time the bonfire will be lit.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131227/polar-bear-plunge-bonfire-5k-set-for-new-years-day

Schuylkill Leads River Of Year Balloting With 5 Days Remaining. So Vote!

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our favorite recreational river last year lost the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources annual (20 years running we might add) River of the Year competition to the Steel City’s (ugh!) Monongahela. Out of more than 24,000 ballots that were cast last year the Schuylkill fell short by just 146 votes.

This time around, the Schuykill leads the balloting for 2014 River of the Year honors with a hefty 40 percent of popular votes cast. The voting period runs from November 25th to December 27th, so we have a fews days left to make sure the the Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh Rivers, in second place with 21%, don’t close the gap.

So vote!

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Schuylkill_leads_River_of_Year_balloting_with_5_days_remaining_So_vote.html#dswVbBm0Mc6OHQ8F.99

Changing Skyline: For A West Schuylkill Site, Time To Bridge Its Moat

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. ...

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. Roughly speaking, the center of commuting in Philly, the former center of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Philly’s main Amtrak station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  There are some really exciting projects going on in Philadelphia as of late.

To hear the champions of Philadelphia’s university district tell it, the west bank of the Schuylkill is poised to give Center City’s skyline a run for its money.

Last week, Brandywine Realty Trust announced plans for its third riverfront skyscraper, a sharply faceted, 47-story office-and-apartment tower at 30th and Walnut Streets. West Philadelphia office space now commands higher rents than the aging behemoths in the city’s legacy downtown. Such is the clamor to live close to the big campuses that at least five residential high-rises are in the works.

It’s nice to see the city’s skyline stretching west. But a clutch of shimmering skyscrapers do not a neighborhood make.

Overlooked in all the hoopla over Brandywine’s latest project, FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, are the conditions on the ground. The site is cut off from the Schuylkill waterfront by a large, triangular moat, which looks down on the train tracks that feed into 30th Street Station and is one of several barriers that make walking there an unpleasant, and often hair-raising, experience.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20131108_Changing_Skyline__For_a_West_Schuylkill__time_to_bridge_its_moat.html#4677tKeG0ScuYbfb.99

Reading City Council Moves On Plan To Fix Aging Sewer System

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The administration and City Council on Monday revved up the plan to fix the city’s estimated 170 miles of sanitary sewer pipe, awarding an $847,747 contract to a firm just to oversee other contractors’ investigations of what’s wrong.

Hazen & Sawyer, Philadelphia, will use the voluminous data coming in from those other probes to build a computer model of the pipe system, assess where its problems are and what repairs are needed, and evaluate which areas will need more capacity in coming years.

“It’s important to have a firm that can handle the data,” Deborah A.S. Hoag, city utility systems manager, told council members.

She said the data coming from other contractors – who have built a special map of the system and televised and smoke-tested many of the pipes – is phenomenally huge.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=516474

Schuylkill River Festival 2013, October 12 From Noon To 6pm In Pottstown

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RiverFest celebrations are on Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 from noon until 6pm at Riverfront Park (140 College Drive in Pottstown)

Learn to Kayak along the river between 12 and 4:30 were kayaks and equipment will be available for a low cost ($15/half hour) through the day.

Take a kayak tour at 4:30 – Take a 2-mile paddle trip to Tow Path Park – shuttle & equipment is available at a small cost of $35. You can register the day of or go to    https://www.facebook.com/TakeItOutdoorsAG   or  takeitoutdoorsag@gmail.com or 610-656-3969 (fist come basis).

Historic River Walks at 1:00pm AND 4:00pm –  presented by the staff of Pottsgrove Manor.

Artists and Crafters will be present to display their creative arts and local music  will be heard throughout the day!

Read more: http://downtownpottstown.org/river-festival-2013-october-12-2013/

Riverfest Returns To Pottstown’s Riverfront Park

POTTSTOWN, PA — In addition to the Halloween-themed Temple of Terror, Halloween Parade and Monster Dash 5K, another crucial element of the borough’s growing October-long slate of activities is the resurrection of Riverfest.

Scheduled this year for Oct. 12, from noon to 6 p.m. along the Schuylkill River and from 6 to 8 p.m. in downtown Pottstown, the list of things to do during this special day is truly dizzying.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131006/riverfest-returns-to-pottstowns-riverfront-park

Soon-To-Be-Restored Penn Street Bridge Is Turning 100 . . . And Looks It

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s seen a century of Reading — the good and the bad, the highs and the lows.

It’s served as the entrance and the exit to the city, the first thing people see when they come and go.

But most of all, the Penn Street Viaduct — the formal name for the 1,337 feet of concrete arches that span the Schuylkill River to connect the main thoroughfares of Reading and West Reading — has become an icon.

“When you think of the city, the first things that come to mind are the Penn Street Viaduct and the Pagoda,” said George M. Meiser IX, Berks County historian.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=514101

Short Film Showcasing Philadelphia

To counter the stereotype of Philadelphia as Negadelphia, filmmaker Nathaniel Dodson set about to make a stunning time-lapse video to show his great city in a different light.  He called it “Philly is Ugly.”

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Philly_is_Ugly.html?c=r

Conditional Use Hearing By Council For 619-Unit Apartment Proposal In Conshohocken

Location of Conshohocken in Montgomery County

Location of Conshohocken in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CONSHOHOCKEN, PA ­­— Borough Council held a conditional use hearing Wednesday night on a proposal to build 619 apartments at 401 Washington Street proposed by the O’Neill Properties Group of Upper Merion.

The four buildings will have four stories of apartments built over a single level of parking.  Part of the 10.7-acre parcel is located in the floodway of the Schuylkill River.

The conditional use was recommended by the Conshohocken Planning Commission with several land development requirements, said Christine Stetler, the borough Director of Community Development.  Part of the parcel is located in Whitemarsh.

Attorney Edmund Campbell Jr., representing the developer, O’Neill Properties Group, said the conditional use would allow the walking trail, two storm water outfalls and several rain gardens to be built within 100 feet of the Schuylkill River bank.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130822/NEWS01/130829879/conditional-use-hearing-by-council-for-619-unit-apartment-proposal-in-conshohocken#full_story

Changing Skyline: Challenge On The Schuylkill

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since Philadelphia began taking its waterfronts seriously a decade ago, it has dreamed of shores lined with lithe, elegant, Vancouver-style towers.  Master plans were assembled, new recreation paths were laid, parks were created. Yet only a few high-rises have materialized, none of them the least bit thin or urbane.

That may be about to change.  Developer Carl Dranoff is planning a 21-story apartment building on the Schuylkill that has the potential to raise the bar for all waterfront design in Philadelphia.

Or not.

Before we venture further, a strong note of caution:  The project is still at an early stage, when only the site plan and the tower’s basic form, or massing, have been established.  We don’t know crucial details, like the color of the building or the material.  But the tower’s profile is svelte enough, and its architect good enough, that it is possible to imagine something special emerging.  Then again, we should keep in mind that Dranoff is the same guy who gave us the giant Pepto Bismol bottle called Symphony House.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130726_Changing_Skyline__Challenge_on_the_Schuylkill.html#vQM37qxs5JRaUOJd.99

Votes Push Development Along Pottstown’s Keystone Boulevard

Editor’s note:  We find ourselves in agreement with the majority on council who voted for this undertaking.  We also feel the tax breaks for Heritage Coach Co. were necessary.  Having that property sit idle accomplishes nothing and provides no income for the borough or the school district.  It also provides no employment which means there is less money to be spent on existing Pottstown businesses.  Until the word gets out to the investment community that Pottstown is open for business and that establishing a business in Pottstown is a good idea, incentives will need to be used to attract development.  

Cleaning up Pottstown would go along way towards fostering development.  Nobody wants to open a business in a crime-ridden community.  Unfortunately, that is the perception you are dealing with, whether it’s entirely true or not.  Perception IS reality.  Cracking down on crime, Section 8 housing and the pervasive drug problem need to be priority one in order to attract business, industry and homeowners.   The number of rental units is too high, partly due to reputation of the Pottstown School District, the reputation of Pottstown Borough and the high taxes.  Any real estate professional will tell you the same thing.  Selling a home in Pottstown is difficult.

POTTSTOWN — Prospects for development along Keystone Boulevard have been bolstered by two votes of borough council Monday evening.

With a unanimous vote, the council approved a “memorandum of understanding” with West Pottsgrove that pledges both municipalities to pursue efforts to extend Keystone Boulevard, which runs parallel to West High Street and the Schuylkill River, into West Pottsgrove to connect with Grosstown Road.

“It’s a conceptual agreement for defining a path to move forward,” Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. explained to council.

The extension of Keystone Boulevard through the former Flagg Brass property in West Pottsgrove and over to the Stowe interchange has long been envisioned and was the subject of an $81,000 study by the Rettew Associates engineering firm.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130613/NEWS01/130619600/votes-push-development-along-pottstown-s-keystone-blvd-#full_story