inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Stormwater Tanks Installed at Abington’s Alverthorpe Park

From a press release

The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership gathered on Wednesday, May 31, to commemorate and unveil the installation of R-Tank Stormwater Models at Alverthorpe Park.

The tanks, which are used to filter water during a storm and subsequently reduce contaminants in drinking water, are the result of $175,000 in state funding devoted towards benefiting Alverthorpe Park’s stream restoration project.

The R-Tank Stormwater Module, also known as the subsurface infiltration basin, will manage and clean stormwater runoff in an underground storage system before slowly releasing it into Alverthorpe Lake.

To achieve this, the park’s parking lot was reconstructed to install and direct stormwater runoff into subsurface infiltration basins.

State Rep. Ben Sanchez (D-Abington), Project Manager Susan Harris, and volunteers and leaders from the Tookany/Tacony- Frankford Watershed Partnership were among the attendees that recognized the installation of the subsurface infiltration basins.

(From left to right) Thomas Johnston, Principal Landscape Architect and Construct Manager at ThinkGreen LLC, Ryan Neuman, Upstream Conservation Leader at Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Julie Slavet, Executive Director of Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Rep. Ben Sanchez, Susan Harris, Timothy Clark, Director of Engineering Construction Services Manager for the Abington Township, Maria Kernan, Streamkeeper and Scott VanCleave, park supervisor, climbed inside the basins to celebrate the installation of stormwater management tanks at Alverthorpe Park.

“Restoration along headwater creeks, such as the Jenkintown Creek, provides us with the greatest opportunity to reduce impacts downstream,” said Harris.

Harris spoke about the long-lasting benefits of the project, including protecting the park’s sports fields, nearby roadways, and local biodiversity.

“The objective of this project is to reduce the volume and velocity of runoff and pollutants being discharged to our waterways. These rain tanks are an open system which allow water to be slowed down and infiltrated into the ground to reduce discharge to the waterway. The feature will provide 36,000 CF of storage for stormwater runoff. This is equivalent to 276,000 gallons or 7500 bathtubs full of water,” said Harris.

Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funded the grant, and was used to install stormwater management measures by intercepting an existing stormwater pipe, which directly discharges 21 acres of uncontrolled stormwater runoff into Alverthorpe Lake.

“This is very personal to me. This is my backyard, my stomping ground,” said Rep. Sanchez. “This park holds a special place in my heart, and it feels good to do something that I will know will positively benefit and educate the community.”

Tookany/Tacony-Frankford watershed is a 30-square-mile area located in southeast Pennsylvania, both within and just outside the city of Philadelphia. It is one of Philadelphia’s five main watersheds, all of which flow into the Delaware River. Any rain that falls on the white area of the map will eventually flow into the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek.

The group’s mission is to improve the health and vitality of our watershed by collaborating with our municipalities and leading our communities in education, stewardship, restoration, and advocacy. They work with neighbors, volunteers, schools, municipal governments, local businesses, and other community members to restore our watershed and strengthen our communities.

Radnor Planners Reject New Villanova University Garage

The Radnor Township Planning Commission rejected a proposed new four-story tall parking garage on the Villanova University campus.

The new garage would replace a two-story garage, VU lawyer Nicholas Caniglia told the Planning Commissioners on Feb. 6. The current steel and concrete structure, off Ithan Avenue,  is nearing the end of its useful life and sports signs saying “Park at your own risk.”

The university will require zoning variances for the building’s 52.7-foot height and additional setbacks from the property boundaries to build the new garage. It would add 232 parking spaces, said Mary Lou Smith, VU assistant vice president for engineering and construction.

Current Villanova parking garage

Caniglia said the school requires additional parking to comply with the township code for other possible projects in its long-term plan. VU Assistant Vice President Chris Kovolski insisted that Villanova has no plans to increase its enrollment. Instead, he said more students want to live on campus, so more dorm rooms will likely be needed.  Villanova has 6,700 undergraduates and 3,100 graduate and law students.

Planning Commission Chair M.J. Frumin noted that the university had just been before the commission in November with plans for a new library, which was approved.

“With all due respect, you’re planning to add dorms,” said Frumin. “That, to me, screams more people.”

Frumin told the VU officials he thinks they will have “a challenging time” proving a hardship needed for a zoning variance.

Resident Sara Pilling was concerned about traffic in the area, particularly the narrow SEPTA underpass on Ithan Avenue, where only one car at a time can pass.

“It’s dicey at the very best of times,” said Pilling.  “I have a deep concern. If they build 232 parking spaces, what is going to happen to that pinch-point?”

Ward 7 Commissioner Sean Farhy is concerned about the height of the proposed garage and also light pollution.

“It’s going to be too close for comfort (to residential neighborhoods),” he said. He suggested adding a parking deck underground to reduce the building’s height, but Smith told him that there were too many utilities.

Roberta Winters, another resident, said, “What happens at Villanova does not stay in Villanova. It impacts the greater Township. Among Radnor’s most pervasive problems are traffic, parking, and stormwater. Replacing the existing parking garage with one that is 53 feet high and holds 405 vehicles may reduce a parking concern, but it is bound to impact traffic, congestion, and create potential environmental issues.”

Winters said, “The garage site is problematic because of its location.  Ithan Avenue is already a busy thoroughfare between Lancaster and Montgomery avenues. The intersection with County Line Road at this spot is particularly hazardous.”  She also mentioned the narrow SEPTA bridge, saying traffic studies should be done.

Winters said neighbors were told that no more parking would be needed with the approval of dorms and an entertainment center on the south side of Lancaster Avenue a few years ago.

“If the university can collaborate to find parking for the Pope’s last visit, they should be able to find spaces at off-peak hours from other existing commercial and institutional spaces in the area. In addition to creative scheduling, shuttles, and even car services are always an option,” she said.

Winters was also concerned about environmental issues, such as stormwater runoff.

“I fear Villanova is eating those who live here, the properties that we own, and the quality of life we value, one bite at a time.  This is an opportunity for you to say, enough is enough,” she said.

Residents Tish Long and Rick Leonardi wrote to the planners expressing similar concerns. Leonardi also believes that some homeowners nearby who should have been notified of the university’s plans, were not.

“What we’re hearing is a tremendous amount of opposition from the public,” said Frumin.

The Radnor Zoning Hearing Board is scheduled to take up the VU parking garage appeal at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Two Neighboring Townships, Nonprofit Unite to Manage Stormwater in Jenkintown Creek

From a press release

While Walt Whitman once penned “good fences make good neighbors,” stormwater knows no boundaries. Such was the case for the Jenkintown Creek that runs through Abington Township and Cheltenham Township.

Since 2014, the Jenkintown Creek has been a priority focus area for Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) restoration efforts. One of TTF’s recent projects along Jenkintown Creek is the Conklin Recreation Center project, which is also part of Cheltenham Township’s Pollution Reduction Plan.

“An agreement was negotiated with Abington Township crediting Cheltenham for treating Abington’s stormwater by way of this project,” said Robert Zienkowski, Cheltenham Township Manager. “Cheltenham Township is a founding member of TTF and has a longstanding relationship working with TTF and other partners on water quality and stormwater management issues.”

A volunteer plants a new tree.

The restoration removed 235 feet of straight, piped concrete in order to let the Jenkintown Creek flow freely through the constructed wetland. With the TTF watershed being 98 percent developed, it has been difficult for communities to manage stormwater in the area. As communities develop and build, there is less ground to absorb stormwater; however, the Conklin Recreation Center restoration alleviates some of these issues.

In the fall of 2019, construction began to remove the piping next to the Charles D. Conklin Jr. Pool and Recreation Center in Cheltenham Township. Next, the stream had to be rerouted into a zig-zag pattern that follows the natural lay of the land. In addition to allowing the water to flow freely, this design prevents erosion as it slows the flow of water against the banks. Sediment can also drop out of the water into the creek bed to reduce pollution.

The COVID-19 pandemic put the project on hold until the following year. In the fall of 2020, volunteers planted flowering and ground-covering perennials, large grasses, shrubs and trees, on the banks of the newly restored tributary. The plants keep soil from eroding, hold in moisture, and prevent trash from entering the creek.

“The now naturally flowing Jenkintown Creek and wetland planted with native, deep-rooted plants not only improves water quality, it creates habitat in addition to slowing down and cleaning 40 acres of stormwater,” said Julie Slavet, Executive Director of TTF. “There are now fish in the creek, and more bees, birds, and butterflies visit, turning this site into an outdoor environmental classroom.”

In addition to making the area more environmentally friendly and visually appealing, the freely-flowing creek is much safer than the pipe, which had fast-moving water and ditches of dirty water.

Water in the Jenkintown Creek comes mostly from rain running off of more than 40 acres upstream in Montgomery County, including roads, residential properties, condominium complexes and commercial properties. This $183,662 project and others in the watershed impact the Tookany Creek, which flows into Tacony-Frankford Creek, and then connects into the Delaware River.

“This new green stormwater infrastructure improves the water quality of 42 acres of developed drainage area around the rec center, which had been directly discharging to the Jenkintown Creek,” said Anne Leavitt-Gruberger, administrator for the Montco 2040 Implementation Grant Program and manager of the County Planning Section of the Planning Commission. “This project directly ties to township goals as well as goals explicitly laid out in the county’s comprehensive plan.”

TTF and Cheltenham Township designed and managed the project, which was funded by the Montgomery County Planning Commission and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Temple University also partnered up with TTF and Cheltenham to develop the project’s concept and proposal, and provided assistance with water quality monitoring.

A ribbon cutting at the Charles D. Conklin Jr. Pool and Recreation Center was held on June 19, 2021. Many community members attended the event, including Cheltenham Township Ward 7 Commissioner Irv Brockington.

“The community members and families enjoying Conklin Pool this summer offered many positive remarks about the project and the revitalized natural system,” said Brockington.


Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or