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DCNR joins in opening celebration at Sunbury River Front complex
Recently completed, extensive river-front improvements had been beckoning to Sunbury area residents to return again to the Susquehanna, but a mid-month dedication ceremony made the invitation official: come down to the river and enjoy yourselves, urged one guest speaker after another.

“Our support of this project is a sound investment for future generations, who will continue to enjoy the value of being reconnected to the river,” said DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, who joined Sunbury City officials in celebrating the long-awaited opening of a Northumberland County project that offers better public access to the Susquehanna River, enhancing recreation and tourism opportunities.

DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano joins Sunbury City and other state and local officials in celebrating the long-awaited opening of a river-front project enhancing the resource-based recreation and tourism potential of the Susquehanna River.
"Today, DCNR is proud to celebrate not only the completion of an enhanced gateway to the river, but also to the health, social, and economic benefits gained from recreational opportunities,” Giordano said. “Like many of our projects across Pennsylvania, this vision hits the triple bottom line—improving environmental quality, neighborhood economic value and the community’s social fabric.”

Officially hailed as the “Grand Opening of the City of Sunbury’s River Front Park and Amphitheater,” the Aug 16 event focused on easier access to the Susquehanna and extensive improvements at Front and Chestnut streets that include:

A new boat dock; permanent stage; extensive paving work facilitating ADA-compliant walking trails and connecting ramps; extensive lighting; gardens and other landscaping; and more than 300 yards of wall providing flood protection to the city and its recreation area.

Through its Community Conservation Partnership Program, DCNR funded $567,000 toward the project’s total $11 million cost.

"It's about partnership. Partnership is what it takes to turn our vision into reality and make projects like this come to fruition,” Giordano told the gathering. “This latest endeavor of federal, state and local partnership has helped shine a most deserving national spotlight on both the City of Sunbury and the Susquehanna River.”

That focus will intensify, Giordano said, with the recent recognition of the Susquehanna as a historic connecting component of the existing Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, a designation long supported by Gov. Tom Corbett.

“Gov. Corbett has recognized time and again the Susquehanna’s ‘great potential to integrate both economic development and recreational objectives in a way that protects our vital cultural heritage.’”

With the trail designation, the National Park Service has pledged to work closely with state and local agencies and other partners to provide technical and financial assistance, resource management, facility enhancement, interpretive trail route marking and promotion along the connecting trails.

In the Sunbury region—marked by the damming of the Susquehanna and creation of Lake Augusta at nearby Shikellamy State Park—DCNR has funded and/or assisted the Susquehanna River Greenway Partnership; Lake Augusta Gateway Corridor Study; and the recently completed Community River Sports Park Feasibility Study.

Much of the praise for the success of the river-front project, and so many other Sunbury-area efforts along the river, was reserved for former state Rep. Merle H. Phillips, who represented the 108th district for 30 years. Now a Northumberland County commissioner, Phillips was honored during the first part of the river-front program with the rededication of Merle Phillips Park along Front Street.

Phillips’ leadership was applauded by Giordano, and other guest speakers, including state Sen. John Gordner, Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, and Sunbury Mayor David Persing.

Besides DCNR, support for the Sunbury project came from: the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program; Department of Community and Economic Development; Department of Environmental Protection; Economic Development Initiative/Housing and Urban Development; Department of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration, Fish and Boat Commission, and Sunbury City.

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August 29, 2012

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