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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.

. 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.

southampton resident August 20, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I back up to the trails in Upper Southampton and I believe it is a bad idea!!! The Southampton Days bring a lot of outsiders as it is into our neighborhood and I have seen first hand what damage they leave behind. I put up for it because it is only a few days but these outsiders drive fast, are very loud and leave trash on our streets!! Remember you may like your neighbors but when you start having an open invitation to our surrounding areas such as Philadelphia, Bensalem, Warminster, etc you may not like what you are inviting in. I am not be negative or prejudice just stating the facts these areas have much higher crime than Upper Southampton. Also our taxes are not as high as Northampton and Warrington, lets keep it that way. We might not have to foot the bill in the beginning but believe me we will later for the upkeep. There is a few men going around the streets trying to get support for the rails to trails these are contractors for septa looking to get the job - beware and do not open the door when they knock. They do not show any ID!
Jack August 20, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Southampton Resident - What trail do you back up to? It seems that most of the information you are posting is not related to rails to trails. Have you confirmed with SEPTA that they have selected contractors for this project? Is it even at the stage where contractors have been selected? I am just as concerned as you and would like some answers.
Robert Lucot August 23, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Everyone has their opinions, is true. Opinions, and fears. Facts are another thing and can only be gained by an honest open mind investigating other trail projects and affects on the community, local residents, property values, etc.. There are many beautiful rail trail multi-use trails especially in PA and it is just a matter of time until the majority is open to the idea and see the value and benefit to their home value, the community, and the heatlh and welfare of the populace that are the true "owners" of these spaces.
Bob Miller September 19, 2012 at 06:03 PM
fred get with it. you are behind the times.
Benjamin Branche September 20, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Mike, You're absolutely right., the plan is a no brainer. Every town or city that has safe outdoor activity areas has higher property values. The argument that it increases crime is a weak excuse to object to an idea that benefits the community as a whole. It's the same as arguing the toe path along the canal has caused an increase in crime.

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