No one is flat-out against cyclists or necessarily the Schuylkill River bike trail currently under renovation. But for some Nixon Street homeowners in the Residents of Shawmont Valley civic association, the work on the trail extension has been nothing but headaches.
"I feel like I lived across the street from a forest, and now a desert is there," resident Mary Arden said at an April meeting. "It's just so naked."
The trail overhaul by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department left some residents from the rural section in Shawmont a little put off. Specifically, the loss of vegetation and presence of heavy construction vehicles seem excessive to them.
"We all knew there would be consequences but I don't think anyone expected that depth of work there," civic President Dave Cellini said. "For a little 300-yard run, it does look a little intense."
A Big Project
Cellini met with project manager Rob Armstrong last week to discuss the overhaul. the river undertaken by numerous city agencies and local groups, the project continues a .
Because the plan called for a 10-foot wide path (unlike the 12-foot path in Manayunk), residents didn't think the work would be too extensive and more vegetation would be preserved.
Gail Perkin, another resident, said she wished there were buffers between the work and homes.
"We wanted the vegetation there because we wanted it to cover up the work," she said.
Armstrong explained the discrepancies.
"The path incorporates wall structures and an ADA accessible trail. Wide excavation was necessary for these items," he said in an email.
The trail project's end—marked for mid-to-late summer—isn't the last step. Armstrong said replanting will begin in the fall.
"(The Parks Department) will meet with residents to discuss re-vegetation. Several invasive species were removed. PPR will only replant native species and will maintain the slope and the trail upon completion of construction," he said.
Cyclists have always had a home in the area—sometimes to the neighborhood's chagrin. In addition to the noise they sometimes create (from talking or riding), residents said cyclists often speed off trails and ignore automobile traffic. There's a safety concern.
"I'm afraid someone's going to drive along and crash into them when they come off the trail," Perkin said.
The trail from Manayunk will break off at Shawmont Street before it starts up again at Nixon Street. That gap lies at a bend in the road, which residents fear could cause heartaches for speeding cyclists passing through.
"The project team is reviewing/assessing the design of the entrance to Shawmont Avenue from the trail," Armstrong said, adding. "There are signs for all trail users and motorists."
For Cellini, continued conversation and resident input are key for all trail aspects.
"The end result is what we'll have to see about. I think we have to be patient... They believe it should improve Nixon Street," he said.