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United Way of Lancaster County


Conestoga Pines Park master plan envisions amenities, trails, connections to city

The new look proposed for Conestoga Pines Park. (Source: City of Lancaster)

City Council this week approved a master plan for Conestoga Pines Park, outlining a comprehensive vision for revitalizing it.

It recognizes and seeks to build on Conestoga Pines’ distinctiveness and its crucial role as a setting for Lancaster Rec activities.

While it includes proposed renovations and a rendering depicting them, “It’s a master plan, not a design,” Public Works Director Stephen Campbell said.

About the park

Conestoga Pines Park and the Walnut Street Fishing Area sit across from each other along the Conestoga River on Lancaster’s east side. Together they total about 60 acres.

The park contains the city’s largest wooded area. It is also home to the city’s only full-size public pool, where the Rec welcomes thousands of swimmers every summer.

Portions of the Conestoga Pines barn date to the mid-1850s. (Source: City of Lancaster)

The pool, like more than half the park, is in a floodplain, and it has incurred significant damage during high-water events. Another concern: The park is off by itself and inaccessible compared to the city’s other parks. There’s no easy way to reach it on foot and bus service is limited, so visitors generally have to drive.

Though a standalone document, the master plan was crafted to accord with Our Future Lancaster, the city’s comprehensive plan; and with a master plan, now under way, encompassing all of Lancaster’s parks, open spaces and recreational facilities.

The Conestoga Pines Park plan calls for renovating and expanding the site’s historic barn — currently an unheated bare-bones building — making it a year-round recreation venue. It calls for preserving most of the existing woodland, and improving its management to keep it healthy and free of invasives.

The trail system would be connected and connected to the nearby Lancaster Heritage Pathway, providing better pedestrian and bicycle access. River access would be improved for boating and fishing as part of the city’s broader objective of revitalizing the Conestoga corridor.

The future of the Conestoga Pines pool will depend in part on the outcome of the citywide parks plan. As part of that effort, the city is evaluating possible sites for a new public pool. If one is found, the Conestoga Pines pool could eventually be decommissioned.

Even if that’s the decision, however, the pool will remain in operation until a new one opens, Campbell promised. The feedback garnered during the planning process, he said, made clear how important the pool is to the Rec and its patrons.

The revitalization of Conestoga Pines Park will take years, and will occur in phases as funding becomes available and partnerships are identified. A “complete buildout,” including the barn project, entrance road and parking lot reconstruction, renovating or replacing the pool and so on, will likely cost around $20 million, Environmental Planner Karl Graybill said.

First steps

The plan identifies an initial “catalyst” project to get things under way: Trail renovation and possibly the construction of a boat ramp. To help cover the work, the city is seeking a $250,000 “Greenways, Trails & Recreation” grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority. City Council approved the application on Tuesday.

The park has a well-established but “informal” trail network, Graybill said. The city plans to upgrade them — including making some of them wheelchair-accessible — and connecting to a paved trail that leads to a pedestrian bridge across the river.

The trail updates can be done independently of the other planned renovations, and they will make the park more usable while other decisions await the completion of the citywide master plan, Campbell said.

The boat launch is under consideration for early action, too, if feasible, Graybill said. Like the trail upgrades, it can be done as a standalone project.