Kay Sykora fist pumped the air when she reached the podium placed at the foot of the Manayunk Canal Towpath on Thursday morning.
Sykora, director of the Schuylkill Project, just couldn’t contain her excitement. After about 15 years of dreaming, planning and construction, it was finally time to celebrate the renovated recreation path.
“Yeah, Manayunk!” exclaimed Sykora during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Towpath’s Lock Street entrance.
“Our mission is the planning, projects and programming that hopefully defines this river. And a big part of that are the trails,” she said. People choose to live here because there is a trail here.”
Last renovated in the late 1970s, the 2.2-mile stretch received $645,000 worth of upgrades thanks to both city and state funding.
Over the course of about four months, the trail’s surface was completely replaced along with its four wooden bridges. The approaches to those bridges were also repaved and the path’s drainage and fencing were improved.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter lauded the project as a boon to the city’s quality of life.
“The trail is going to be an asset to the economic climate in this neighborhood. It will also keep children and young people, and those who are young at heart, active and healthy by connecting them to the park and the natural world around them,” said Nutter, who wore a pink tie emblazoned with bicycles to mark the occasion.
Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., whose Fourth District includes Manayunk, took things one step further. He said the project, along with upgrades to the Manayunk Canal itself, will really help put Manayunk on the map.
“We will be compared to some of the great business waterways around the nation. This towpath is a step, in many miles of steps, in the right direction for that,” said Jones.
The Manayunk Canal Towpath is a small part in a much larger effort to extend the Schuylkill River Trail from Center City in Philadelphia to Pottsville, Pa.