Rusty Strauss, Township Supervisor from East Pikeland Township, recently attended the Chester County Planning Commission’s August Board Meeting to provide an update on current happenings in East Pikeland.
During his presentation, Strauss touched on various aspects of planning in the township – which is located along the Schuylkill River between Phoenixville Borough and Spring City Borough – as well as its zoning map, which features a mix of commercial, mixed-use, residential, and agricultural districts.
Strauss discussed some of the Township’s major challenges, with their top challenge being growth due to many people wanting to live close to Phoenixville and its amenities. Additional challenges the Township faces include transportation from pass-through traffic, sustainable development, and affordable housing – however, they are currently working to tackle these head on.
When it comes to goals, Strauss explained that East Pikeland is working diligently on their Route 23/724 corridor development, as well as open space preservation and park and recreation development on the land they currently own. He also noted that the Township is working to clean up the blighted properties along routes 23 and 724 – including the 400 Westside property (previously Rivnack Motors) – a toxic site which has since been restored to include apartments, retail commercial, and intersection improvements.
Some recent projects Strauss highlighted during his presentation include the Schuylkill Road Sidewalk Project (filling in the gaps to make the sidewalk more pedestrian friendly), the French Creek Trail, and Kimberton Park, which features an amphitheater and outdoor concert series for local residents and visitors.
Strauss explained that back in 2006, East Pikeland passed an Open Space Referendum which dedicated .25% of earned resident income tax for open space. Currently, 23% of the land in East Pikeland is preserved, and of that 23%, 28% of that is owned by the Township. “We have made some significant strides in protecting open space,” Strauss added.
Another project Strauss highlighted was the soon-to-be Hidden River Park and Preserve, which includes 115 acres that are permanently preserved from development, and the Ridge Road Park (along Route 23), which will serve as a dog park and community garden on one side, with a pollinating meadow on the other side.
One of the Township’s biggest assets, Strauss noted, is the French Creek Trail, which became extremely popular during COVID-19 as it offers both recreational and historical components. Eventually, this trail will connect to the Schyulkill River Trail (east) in Phoenixville and (west) to French Creek State Park.
Strauss highlighted the township’s recent grant successes, which include a number of Vision Partnership Program (VPP) Grants, as well as state and federal grants.
Recent county VPP grants awarded to the township include a comprehensive plan update (2011), SLDO update (2013), Kimberton Zoning Update (2015), Phoenixville Regional Planning Comprehensive Plan Municipal Updates, and a PACEA Task Force Clean Energy Plan (2021). East Pikeland has also fully participated in the Phoenixville Area regional planning efforts, which have benefited from VPP grants.
Additionally, Strauss noted that the Township has received various government grants for transportation, open space acquisition, park development, riparian buffer restoration, electric vehicle charging stations, and streambank restoration along Pickering Creek.
“I would like to give a big thank you to the Chester County Planning Commission and the VPP Grants.,” Strauss concluded. “We wouldn’t be able to maintain the character of the Township and do a lot of the things that we’ve been doing in East Pikeland Township without you, so I want to thank you for this, and I think this program is a great asset to the county.”
To learn more about East Pikeland Township and their current projects, please visit https://www.eastpikeland.org/.