"Yeah, Manayunk! We're on our way," Kay Sykora said, highlighting the benefits the Manayunk Canal Towpath restoration will have on the Main Street business corridor.
With Mayor Michael Nutter and other government officials present, Sykora and the Schuylkill Project official marked the towpath's refurbishment Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. That update, coupled with projects on the Manayunk Canal, Venice Island and the river itself, could go a long way to helping Main Street shopping.
"Already Manayunk is defined by its bicycling. But going forward, and even now... you will see recreation based businesses—bike stores, running stores and a whole group of subsets that are tied in with the fact their customers use this trail," Sykora said.
Nutter, the former city councilman, worked with Sykora and the Manayunk Development Corporation for many years in planning the updates. He knows first-hand the link between the waterway and Main Street.
He thanked businesses who started the Manayunk revitalization, including Dan Neducsin, Mike Rose, Bruce Cooper, Barbara and Rick Carocci, and Bob Swarbrick.
These "pioneers of Manayunk, the folks who really—20, 30 years ago—made folks take a second, third and fourth look at this great neighborhood and its history. Not only its industrial past but its retail and commercial future," he said.
The mayor said the businesses and the recreation area make, "Manayunk the great place that it is in the region for folks to come and shop and dine and just have a good, good time."
From the state's Department of Conversation and Natural Resources, John Giordano said the partnerships between city and state, business and community groups led to the project's success.
"This trail will not only promote the health and social benefits realized from recreation, it will be a gateway to increased visitation and in turn boost the economic vitality of Manayunk's rebounding Main Street," he said, pointing to businesses spotlighting their water and towpath access.
"As Manayunk is once again one of Philadelphia's most active neighborhoods, drawing scores of visitors from throughout the Delaware Valley, DCNR is proud to support the area's continued revitalization through partnering to restore the Schuylkill River Trail."
For 4th District City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. (D), the towpath improvement is step one in a process to make Manayunk a national waterway icon. He projected a future similar to San Antonio, Texas, and encouraged Main Street to continue at is prosperous rate.
"If we do as the mayor has directed us to do and get the water flowing correctly, we will be compared to some of the great business waterways around the nation," Jones said.
State Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-194) shared her first towpath experiences in walking down the path into Center City for dinner.
"I will be encouraging my friends and colleagues, and hope you will do the same, who live in Center City, to reverse that commute, come up to Main Street in Manayunk, via this great scale and walk back home in the evening," she said.
For more information, visit www.destinationschuylkillriver.org.