From sand quarry to the Giving Pond Sand quarry to be transformed into the Giving Pond Opening day is still uncertain. The state is hoping for private money.

Posted: July 22, 2003

UHLERSTOWN — It is to be called the Giving Pond.

At the moment, a few pieces of leftover heavy equipment are scattered near the entrance to Delaware Valley Concrete Co. on River Road in Bucks County.

But a short drive inland is the former sand-and-gravel quarry of perhaps 100 acres that groundwater has turned into a serene lake.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED JULY 23, 2003, FOLLOWS: In an article in yesterday's editions, The Inquirer misidentified the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He is Michael DiBerardinis.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the site - 150 acres in all - is to open to the public for nature walks, outings, fishing, hunting, lake canoeing and river launchings.

It will be one of the brightest flowers on the vine that is Delaware Canal State Park, strung alongside the Delaware River on the eastern edge of Bucks County.

One recent morning at the site north of New Hope and across from Frenchtown, N.J., park manager Ken Lewis stood at water's edge as a blue heron soared overhead, and he imagined the future.

It is Lewis who has named the site the Giving Pond.

He took it from The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, a book that he read to his children years ago.

"The tree grows and the boy grows and the boy keeps taking from the tree," Lewis recalled of the story.

"He took shade from the tree, took fruit from the tree. . . . In the end, nothing is left of the tree but a stump.

"The boy's bent over - an old man - and the old man says to the tree, 'I don't want anything; I just want a place to rest.'

"And the tree gives him [its] stump to sit on. And they're both really happy."

From Native Americans to the quarry operation that ended about 10 years ago, Lewis said, "the land, like the tree, just kept giving.

"And we're going to set it aside as a place to come . . . and relax."

*

On a tour of the canal last week, Lewis briefed Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John C. Oliver about the Giving Pond.

But not about opening day. That is uncertain.

"Final conceptual plans need to be developed for the site," Gretchen Leslie, conservation department press secretary, explained in a phone interview from Harrisburg.

"There's uncertainty as to how long this process will take," she said. "There was about $6 million in the capital budget that was allotted to this project. About half went to the purchase of the land."

Settlement was in April.

The spokeswoman said the state is hoping for private money so environmental surveys can determine what plants and wildlife need protection.

The park manager hopes for a mix of grassland and shrubs with saplings and mature trees. He wants to stock the Giving Pond with "warm-water species, probably large-mouth bass."

"My final wish is to [move from] administrative offices in Upper Black Eddy and build an office that is a combination of administrative offices and a visitors center" for the entire Easton-to-Morrisville canal park.

The sale in April ended a decade-old struggle between Tinicum Township and the quarry operation.

"It's a win-win situation," said Tinicum Supervisor Nick Forte, "for the quarry operator and the members of this community," as well as all who visit.

The park will run from the riverbank, across River Road, through the old quarry site, to where the canal takes a wide turn from the river, near where houses in Uhlerstown sit under the Palisades ridge.

"It has now eliminated the threat of boulders and rocks from the Palisades tumbling on homes because of blasting," Forte said.

In April 2002, the Bucks County Court ruled against quarry owner Mario DiLiberto's request to allow blasting, citing township concerns over rockfall loosened by tremors.

Lewis said that the firm had dug all of the sand and gravel it could, to 22 feet at the deepest, and needed to blast into bedrock to go deeper.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection had approved a blasting permit, Lewis said. But in that 2002 decision, the township successfully argued against it.

Forte said that DiLiberto also had proposed a 42-room hotel and golf course for the site, but that township officials never saw a final proposal.

DiLiberto did not return calls seeking comment.

The quarry had a long run. Lewis said that in the late 1970s, DiLiberto acquired the operation that had begun in 1941.

"Mario has, I believe, until next April" to clear out, Lewis said. "He has told me he wants to be out of here by the fall."

So it'll be a little while before the pond begins giving.

Contact staff writer Walter

F. Naedele at 215-345-7768

or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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