YARDLEY BOROUGH >> The Mary Yardley Footbridge is on track to be replaced sometime next summer.
According to borough engineer Liz Colletti, the project could go out to bid in the spring with construction planned for the summer.
Colletti also reported at the Nov. 17 borough council meeting that an application has been sent to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission seeking additional grant funding for the project.
The application included letters of support from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Friends of the Delaware Canal.
“We expect to hear back about that grant around July,” said Colletti.
Susan Taylor, the executive director of the Delaware Canal, also reported that the public fundraising campaign for the bridge is close to exceeding $35,000.
“Members of the public have come forth very generously in favor of the project,” said Taylor. “That’s a good thing.”
The Friends of the Mary Yardley Footbridge, in partnership with the borough and the Friends of the Delaware Canal, launched a public fundraising campaign in July to help replace the deteriorating Footbridge, which spans the Delaware Canal in the Rivermawr section of town.
Under the public portion of its fundraising campaign, the first $35,000 raised will be matched - dollar-for-dollar - by an anonymous borough donor.
In addition, the borough, which owns the bridge, has set aside $70,000 in its budget to pay for the project. And another $40,000 in state grant funding has been allocated.
The original metal footbridge was built more than a century ago and named for Mary Yardley, the adjacent property owner who granted a public easement to access the bridge.
The footbridge and bridge path were used to connect Main Street and the Rivermawr neighborhood, providing access to a trolley line that ran along North Main Street.
Back in those days, Rivermawr was a summer retreat for people looking to escape the urban environment of the early 1900’s. At that time, automobiles were a luxury, so many residents relied on the trolley and the railroad as their primary means of transportation.
After more than 70 years of use, the metal footbridge was replaced in the 1980s by a wooden span which now needs to be replaced. The current 40-year-old foot bridge is primarily used for recreational purposes, providing access to the canal towpath for cycling, walking, running, fishing and dog walking.
As the northern-most bridge in the Borough, it connects residents to the town’s restaurants, shopping, and Yardley events, such as Harvest Day, Canal-O-Ween, Music on Main, and the Christmas and Memorial Day parades.
The footbridge also is an important alternate means of emergency access in the event of flooding in the river neighborhoods.
During the back-to-back floods in 2004, 2005 and 2006, residents and first responders used the bridge frequently as an access and escape route to the flooded areas.
Donations can be made online at fdoc.org/yardley-footbridge or they can be sent to the Friends of the Delaware Canal, 145 South Main Street, New Hope 18938 (c/o the Mary Yardley Footbridge).
In other business at its November 17 meeting, council voted to extend a formal offer to PECO stating its desire to purchase the former PECO substation lot located adjacent to the Delaware Canal and the Mary Yardley footbridge.
The offer is contingent upon the borough receiving grant funding to pay for the land, which has been appraised by the borough at around $55,000.
The property, which formerly housed a PECO substation, is located in the floodplain and is not developable. If acquired by the borough, it would be preserved as open space and be used for community gatherings, like the annual Canal-O-Ween Carve-A-Thon.
The offer is designed to open a dialogue with PECO regarding the future of the lot.
In other news, Borough Manager Paula Johnson announced that an outdoor holiday market planned for December 19 at Buttonwood Park in conjunction with the Yardley Farmers Market may have to be rethought due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“The farmers market can continue with mostly food, but with holiday items I don’t know if it’s still a good idea to do that,” said Johnson. “We’re taking another look.”
In addition to the farmers market stands, the holiday market would add vendors booths focused on the sale of holiday crafts and merchandise.
“The farmers market is all food. That’s why they have been able to operate, even through the strictest of COVID period,” said Johnson.
Councilman Uri Feiner asked whether it could be set up so there is sufficient social distancing space between the vendors, similar to the farmers market.
Johnson said there is sufficient room to fit 20 vendors six feet apart stretching from the farmers market out to Penn Valley Drive. “We can spread out that way a good six feet apart,” she said.
“I’m sure we’re still going to do it as long as someone doesn’t say, ‘Hey. Not a good idea. Don’t do it,’” said Johnson.
Councilman Uri Feiner said he’s all for being careful, but added, “If it’s sufficiently spread out, if we limit the number of people, it just gives people something nice happening that is maybe helpful because instead of people reacting by having indoor gatherings, at least they’re having an outdoor gathering where they can satisfy some of their need to connect in the safest way. That’s my input, but I respect whatever you come up with,” he told Johnson.