“This is the first we’ve heard about the creation of a park,” said one alarmed attendee at an Upper Roxborough public meeting the other night, pronouncing “park” as if it were some other four-letter word. The Natural Lands Trust (NLT) hosted the meeting to discuss plans for the Upper Roxborough Reservoir, decommissioned a half-century ago and now home to varied wildlife, including birds and deer. The tiny toads famous for their annual migration are, each spring, reservoir-bound. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is now undertaking storm-water management efforts at the reservoir. Previously, rainwater would run down from the reservoir’s rim, flooding streets and houses. PWD is building a depressed gully to catch the runoff. When the project is complete, the NLT will create improvements to make the reservoir’s interior more inviting and park-like. Which is exactly what some residents oppose.
“I don’t want any more people here,” said Kyle Morris, after NLT’s Peter Williamson mentioned possibilities such as benches, tables, attractive fencing and a walkway traversing the reservoir.
Judy Stepenaskie was involved in defending the reservoir in 1998, when the Eagles were considering the site for a practice facility. “The goal of saving the reservoir was keeping it a wildlife area,” she explained. Other developers have also eyed the site over the years, and that anxiety lingers. Williamson pointed out that the city is spending millions — “so that [developer John] Westrum will have a nice place to put his houses,” someone interrupted.
Actually, the city excavation “pretty much removes [the site] from developers’ eyes,” Upper Roxborough Civic Association president Bob Turino tells CP. Via fliers and meetings, he’s tried to explain that. “But,” he says, “I guess people just don’t pay attention.”
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