Juniata Park has new nature trail and new hope

DAN GERINGER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Pastor Derick Schudder (right) tours the new Tacony Creek Trail with Juniata Park residents Pablo Cabrera and Ivis Solis (center).
DAN GERINGER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Pastor Derick Schudder (right) tours the new Tacony Creek Trail with Juniata Park residents Pablo Cabrera and Ivis Solis (center).
Posted: October 07, 2013

PASTOR DERICK Scudder of Bethel Chapel Church was walking on the new Juniata Park section of Tacony Creek Park Trail when he ran into Ivis Solis.

Solis is a neighborhood resident who was taking a break from riding her daughter's purple bike so her friend Pablo Cabrera could snap a photo.

"A few years ago, this was a mess," Solis told Scudder, pointing to the trail running under the Wyoming Avenue bridge. "When I used to take my daughter here to bike ride, you'd have to jump over all the trash."

"People would throw stuff off the bridge," said Scudder, who grew up in the neighborhood and now helps the Juniata Action Committee revitalize it.

"Now this trail is clean," Solis said. "So I'm riding my daughter's bike here because my doctor said I should get some exercise."

She and Scudder agreed that the new trail, which begins at I Street and Ramona Avenue, is a sign that things are looking up in Juniata Park.

Minutes later, Scudder came to a big, ugly concrete triangle at the neighborhood's gateway junction of Castor Avenue, and Wingohocking and Cayuga streets.

A truck packed with secondhand furniture was parked on Castor. Used bureaus and chairs were spread out along the curb.

Scudder displayed a Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek Watershed plan to replace the concrete triangle with a rainwater retention garden, hopefully by next spring.

He said that the Juniata Action Committee was founded by clergy like himself, like Father Thomas Higgins and Sister Elaine George of Holy Innocents Catholic Church, as well as Juniata News editor Tom Lineman, to counter the neighborhood's negative image.

Juniata Park made news in 2011 when an enraged man killed three teenagers he believed were feuding with his stepson, and again this month when a man shot a 21-year-old woman at point-blank range after robbing her.

What doesn't make news, Scudder said, is that most of Juniata Park consists of law-abiding people living in well-kept row houses.

A major player in Juniata's revival, Scudder said, is Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which took over shuttered Parkview Hospital in 2004, turned the eyesore campus on Wyoming Avenue near Castor into green space and supports local events like last month's Juniata Fest, which featured sword-fighting by medieval re-enactors.

Another big plus, said Sister Elaine George, is the Bottom Dollar Food store on Castor Avenue near Luzerne, a site where she led many cleanups when it was "an abandoned gas station where people dumped mattresses, tires and construction debris."

"We will always have a positive attitude toward helping Juniata Park because we are clergy," she said. "We see the silver lining. We can do this. We will do this."


On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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