As announced last week, a skate park and full completion of the Liberty Bell Trail will be part of phase one of the Madison Lot Redevelopment Project by Equus Capital Partners.
On Wednesday night, Lansdale Borough Council took a step toward grabbing some funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Council voted 7-0 to file an application for a $700,000 grant under the Pennsylvania DCNR C2P2 program. The grant would be applied to public improvements for the Lansdale Greenway (Liberty Bell Trail) and the skate park.
Council President Matt West and Councilman Rich DiGregorio Jr. were absent from the meeting.
The Liberty Bell Trail will connect Lansdale to Upper Gwynedd Township and Hatfield Township. Councilwoman Mary Fuller said Wednesday that, if successful, would make Lansdale the first municipality in Montgomery County to have a completed trail.
Developer Equus Capital Partners would contribute the dollar-for-dollar local match as required.
"These grants are going for public improvements that will be for public use," said Borough Manager Timi Kirchner Wednesday night. "There are questions about whether or not the grants are going for the developer's benefit. That is simply not the case. These grants are for a trail, a skate park, and for improvements on Madison Street. Those are all public areas that will remain that once the project is up and running and spectacularly successful."
Councilman Mike Sobel thanked all involved for putting the time and work and thoroughness into the redevelopment project. He especially thanked the Lansdale Parking Authority for working with Equus. The authority and Equus presented a sketch plan on the project last week.
"It's going to be one of the best things to ever hit this borough," Sobel said. "It's not something that was slammed together overnight. It isn’t anything being rushed through. It's been thoroughly discussed and worked on. Nice job."
Councilman Dan Dunigan, who also chairs the Lansdale Parking Authority, said there are trifolds available that summarize the "value-added improvements" coming the way of the borough as a result of the project.
Read more on those improvements and about the redevelopment project here.
"I looked at the numbers dozens of times; they are still, frankly, staggering. To get this project done and get it off the ground will be an absolute boom for the town in which you live," he said. "I am looking forward to it."
Dunigan said he was "highly confident" that all will go well. He said SEPTA deputy general manager Jeff Knueppel said it was the finest transit-oriented, multimodal project he had ever seen.
"They are trying to do this in other places. Finally, something is ready to go here in Lansdale," Dunigan said.
Councilwoman Mary Fuller said there was something important to note: the project will not cost the borough anything. Equus will be paying for both phases of the redevelopment and the skate park.
"I listen to comments and read comments and accounts in the media. I'd like to remind everybody, and please remind your friends and neighbors, when they say Lansdale should do this or the borough shouldn’t spend money on that: this is the developer's project," she said. "The borough isn’t spending any money. The developer is making the investment. It's their property and they will develop it. Same with the SEPTA garage, that wil be SEPTA money."