Creek coali­tion calls at­ten­tion to a ‘Place That Mat­ters’

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Pe­tra Ch­es­ner Sch­lat­ter

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.

Pho­to­graph by Jayne Spec­tor

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