Bethlehem Township is hopeful that a state grant helps put a stop to frequent flooding in Municipal Park that renders the township-owned recreational area a soggy mess for days after rain.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection awarded the township a $57,600 grant this week to kick off the Nancy Run tributary restoration project. The township is providing matching funds and applying for another grant to complete the work, said Kate Ebel, senior environmental scientist for the Wildlands Conservancy, which is partnering with the township on the restoration.
“Anytime you can fund work to restore a creek, you are investing in that community,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a news release. “When this work begins on Nancy Run, residents will see improvements to stream life and the area surrounding the stream.”
The grant will allow the township to stabilize and grade the eroding stream bank of a small unnamed stream that feeds in to the Nancy Run Creek, which flows through the Farmersville Road park. The project will also reconstruct a 90-degree turn in the stream channel to help improve water flow.
During heavy rains, the stream floods into a nearby grassy area used by geese and then pathogens are able to enter the waterway. This leaves standing water in the parks for days afterwards, Ebel said.
“This is something that the township has been wanting to take on for a little while,” Ebel said. “It has been getting worse in the park.”
The project will also plant three acres of riparian vegetation along the restored stream corridor, protecting the park infrastructure while creating a wildlife habitat along the stream, according to the state. The plantings will make walks around the park -- currently a large plot of mowed grass -- more enjoyable and interesting, Ebel said.
“It is a big park and there is a lot of potential here,” she said. “We are excited to work with the township for a new vision for the park.”
The grant will allow the project design phase to begin with the goal of commencing work in 2020.
The funding comes from the Growing Greener grant program, which is supported by the Environmental Stewardship Fund that’s funded through landfill tipping fees.