The July 25 Lower Providence Planning Commission met to discuss revitalization potential, focusing on a stretch of Ridge Pike in the Evansburg section of the township.
Specifically, this northwestern section of Lower Providence encompasses an area along Ridge Pike from Evansburg State Park to the Collegeville Borough Border.
[See enlarged map in media gallery]
The July 25 meeting was the second meeting to discuss such revitalization efforts in that part of the township. Sean Metrick, a senior planner with the Montgomery County Planning Commission, again facilitated the main portion of the meeting.
“We want a really good vision and good idea to suit the next 10-25 years,” Metrick told the commission members.
According to Metrick, the township requested county planning to assist with the revitalization study of the Ridge Pike area, as of July 1.
Last night’s meeting was a workshop for the commission members, who were tasked to pore over maps of the area and create a general framework of what that portion of the township could look like in 25 years.
Collegeville Inn Anchor Area
According to Metrick, the area is largely undeveloped, with mixed-zoning.
In the workshop, the commission members were asked to consider several current and potential developments in that area.
Such developments would include a water-line extension, which Metrick said would be completed by October, allowing for more intensity and density for development; as well as the potential for allowing the creation of larger buildings, which would exceed the township’s current height cap.
Among the ideas presented by the commission members was a focus on the area, where Ridge and Germantown Pikes meet, which the members referred to as the revitalization anchor area.
“We could have this river-front area that is not being used,” David Atkins, Planning Commission member, said of the Perkiomen Creek.
The members discussed how development, such as small retail businesses, restaurants with outside seating, offices and condos could thrive in such an area. It was also suggested that revitalization of Ridge Pike would increase the tax base for the entire township.
Disregarding the current township height cap, Jason Sorgini, the township board of supervisors’ commission liaison, also suggested inviting Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to build its satellite hospital in that area. Another height-exceeding structure suggested would be the creation of a hotel.
The creation of walking trails connecting to Collegeville might also attract nearby college students, increasing patronage and creating a popular night scene for potential waterfront restaurants.
Adam Supplee, Planning Commission member, also strongly agreed in increasing sidewalks to coincide with new trails. He added that a prominent public plaza gateway should be created.
“It would be a real asset,” Supplee, said of developing the overall anchor area. “It would help make the township a destination.”
The commission members also discussed flooding as a major concern for the anchor area. According to commission members, some nearby properties already suffer from flooding issues, such as the Collegevile Inn.
One idea to combat such concerns would be to create distributed parking lots further up the hill. Randee Elton, the township’s Community Development Director, also suggested extending the anchor area line along Ridge Pike to Cross Keys Road.
“The intensity up front will detract from the flooding area,” Elton said.
On the Road to Evansburg West?
Further revitalization ideas suggested similar development toward the Evansburg State Park border, but with decreasing building heights or intensity.
Suggested sidewalks and trails would stretch the length of Ridge Pike West. Furthermore, connecting trails could also lead through the park and connect to the parallel Germantown Pike.
According to Supplee, the Germantown Pike West area is already strongly developed, however, stops short at the state park boundary. By having connecting trails between Germantown and Ridge pikes, from the Collegeville to Evansburg State Park borders, a triangular shape on the map can be seen.
According to Supplee, in this area, the creation of a new section of Lower Providence is possible.
“I think this area needs an identity, as its own identity gets cut off from the park,” Suplee said.
“It could be called 'Evansburg West,'” added a commission member.
[What would you think of an 'Evansburg West'? Share you comments below.]
Public Presentation in the Works
While still in its infancy stages, Metrick said that he will consolidate the ideas for a revitalization plan for further review by the commission. The commission intends on presenting the plan to the public as early as October. Both the business and general communities will be invited for input.
Lower Providence Planning Commission meetings are open to the public, and take place in the Township Building on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is expected to take place in September.
For more information, visit the township website at www.lowerprovidence.org.