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Northampton Twp resident Joanne Klempner Voices her Opinion!

15 Sep 2016

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Existing Rail Line in Northampton Twp

Existing Rail Line in Northampton Twp

A long time resident of Northampton Township voices her opinion. Let’s follow her!

See online at: http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/opinion/guest/guest-opinion-rails-to-trails-are-a-recreational-opportunity-for/article_f75e8934-93cf-5dc0-a04d-9a8aeadeba3e.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

For those that may not be able to see the article online:

GUEST OPINION: Rails to trails are a recreational opportunity for all ages
By JOANNE KLEMPNER published in the Bucks County Courier Times on September 14, 2016

Communities change over time. I grew up going to the Churchville Nature Center every Sunday with my father, and on our way home we would stop at the Churchville Train Station. Sometimes the train conductor would let my brother and I board the train in Holland; while my Dad raced down Elm Avenue alongside to pick us back up at the Churchville station. My Dad rode the Newtown–Fox Chase train to work. Time marches on.

My father has been gone for 25 years, and the train has been gone for nearly 35. SEPTA has unequivocally stated the train service will never be restored. For the past 35 years the tracks have languished; overgrown, filled with garbage and weeds; a lost opportunity to become something greater. We now have the power to change that.

Our neighboring townships (Southampton and Newtown) are moving forward with converting their sections of the old tracks into walking trails; linear parks, and we can do the same with the 4.5 miles of unused rail that runs through Northampton. Northampton can be a destination on the trail, an important connection, the part of something bigger, or we can be the township where the trail dies out on two sides.

Montgomery County has converted their section of the trail from Lorimer Park to Byberry Road near Mason’s Mill Park. There is no trash or crime along the new trail in Montgomery County. Neighbors are proud of it. They have created paths from their homes to reach it. When they sell their homes one day, they will advertise their proximity to the trail and charge more for their property because of it. This is because trails enhance and improve the neighborhoods through which they run.

Trails bring economic growth to their communities. When I leave the Montco Trail, I stop in Huntingdon Valley for my groceries, get gas or coffee in Southampton. If I were on our trail, I would go to Murray’s Market or Acme for my groceries, Jake’s for breakfast, or Tanners for the occasional ice cream cone. But until we have a trail, I take those dollars and the prosperity they could bring to a different neighborhood; one that has a trail.

Trails are for everyone. They are a recreational opportunity for all ages. They are not ball fields just for youth sports. The rail trail will connect our parks (Churchville Nature Center, Tamanend, Mason’s Mill, and Lorimer) our businesses, and our communities.

As part of the trail building process, there are many questions that must first be answered. How will road crossings be handled? What sort of buffers can be built for homes along the trail? What will it be made of? What will it cost and who will pay for it? Those questions can only be answered once a trail study is completed.

In Northampton, we are asking our board of supervisors to vote for a non-binding resolution in support of the trail. What this means is that they can move forward with a trail study to answer these all-important questions. It is not a vote to build the trail, it is a vote to get the facts this community and our board needs to make informed decisions.

Northampton, the time has come to turn our overgrown tracks into something wonderful for our community. Our roads are busier than ever, not originally built for the traffic they must carry. Grant money exists to support trail building, as our neighboring communities have found. Trails do not bring crime to a community; there are plentiful studies which prove it.

We cannot let the fear-mongering tactics of the few dictate what is best for a township of 40,000 people. Let us not make decisions based upon unfounded fears rather than hard facts. Let us not be known as the community where great ideas and great trails come to die.

How to help: The Bucks County Planning Commission will present the Newtown-Fox Chase Rail Trail concept to the Northampton Board of Supervisors on Thursday, Sept.r 15 at Richboro Middle School; 7:30 p.m. Please come to learn the facts about our proposed trail and encourage our board to vote “Yes” to doing something great for our community. Learn more at www.bikebuckscounty.com.

Joanne Klempner resides in Churchville.

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