Creek coalition calls attention to a ‘Place That Matters’
NEWTOWN BOROrGH – Gathering along the banks of the Newtown Creek, a large group of people sat together to show the world the importance of a patch of land on the creek-side called the Newtown Common.
Some of the nature lovers held letters of the alphabet that spelled out the words, “This Place Matters.” It was like a subdued cheering section at a baseball game with encouraging words for a cause.
Everyone posed for a group photograph as part of the national “This Place Matters campaign,” which gathers and educates people about cultural resources and celebrates unique places. It is sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The photo will be uploaded to the This Place Matters website, www.preservationnation.org/ take-action/this-place-matters, and will join thousands of other photos already posted from around the country.
What’s left of the Newtown Common, once 40-plus acres, is tucked behind the Newtown Bike Shop at North State and Greene streets and situated on the banks of the Newtown Creek.
The plot’s dimensions are approximately 80 by 100 feet.
When William Penn and his surveyor, Thomas Holme, planned “New Township”, he created a “common” along both sides of Newtown Creek as the center of the town. His design provided direct access to the creek.
To emphasize the importance of the patch of land, the Newtown Creek Coalition (NCCF held “Common Occurrence” on Sunday, Oct. 21. The intent of the free public event was to increase awareness of the Newtown Common and its need for preservation.
“I am so happy with the turnout,” said NCC member Julia Woldorf. “I thought it was great. We have little kids. We have retired people and families. It’s very nice to see that.”
Woldorf, a former president of the Newtown Borough Council, said she saw some new faces “that haven’t been to other creek activities.”
“It’s wonderful,” added NCC president Mike Sellers of the turnout, which numbered between 35 and 40 people. “We have to educate people about this terrific resource in our community.
“It’s a diamond in the rough,” he said. “We’re just beginning to appreciate how it can be polished for future generations.”
Today’s younger generation was enjoying the event. Sara Tyler, 5, of Newtown Borough was playing “Go fish” with a stick, a string and a magnet. The magnet picked up tiny paper fish attached with paper clips. Tyler said of all the fish she ‘caught,’ she likes the Creek Chub the most.
Alyssa Tyler, T, said she learned from the game that “You can go fishing for real” in the Newtown Creek.
Six very small fish can be found in the creek: banded killifish, blue gill, tesselated darter, blacknose dace, creek chub and white sucker. The children matched the fish they ‘caught’ with named fish on a diagram.
Architect Gonsalo Echeverria brought his two daughters, Rosario and Josefina along with their little brother, Matias, to the Common Occurrence event.
Matias was busy at the fishing pond, trying to get as many fish as possible so he could win a squiggly funny little animal.
Liam and Kiera Katz, T, of Newtown Township came to the event with their parents, Joel and Kathleen. The twins were climbing on big concrete blocks that someone had dumped on the creek-side.
Liam said he was enjoying the trees, the leaves and the grass. His mother added that he likes the rocks and the fish, too.
“We think it’s important to learn about the community where we live,” she said. They think Newtown has so much to offer with its history and special places that should be preserved like the Newtown Common.
Some other kids were climbing on the memorial boulder situated in the middle of the patch of land. The commemorative stone was placed in 1934 as part of the 250th anniversary of Newtown.
Woldorf said people are “appreciating the desirability of public access to the creek and the need to protect the waterway once again,” she said. “This is more difficult now that the majority of the land along the creek is privately owned.”
The Newtown Common is still a public place. “We also have a stretch along the creek between Washington Avenue and Centre Avenue at the bottom of the municipal parking lot which is publicly owned and also has great potential for restoration in a way that would benefit both the creek and the business district,” Woldorf said.
Two members of the Newtown Creek Coalition, Jayne Spector, a landscape architect, and Gonzalo Echeverria, have created their visions of what the area could look like to get the conversation going. Spector is on the NCC board of directors. Echeverria is a NCC member.
“We are looking for ideas from everyone,” Woldorf said.
The NCC is a non-profit organization established in 200S. Its mission is to protect and preserve Newtown Creek and to encourage appropriate use of this natural and historic resource by the community.
For information, visit www.newtowncreekcoalition.org and www.facebook.com/NewtownCreekCoalition.