Wednesday, November 19, 2014

$20K for Colebrookdale Railroad

Photos by Evan Brandt
The Colebrookdale Railroad's "open car" is more popular in warmer months.

The Colebrookdale Railroad was the biggest beneficiary of this year’s round of grants from the Boyertown Area Charitable program.

Part of the Berks County Community Foundation, the charitable program distributed $44,250 it was announced Friday and $20,000 of it went to the railroad for operations.

Berks Community Foundation spokesman Jason Brudereck said railroad is free to use the money however it sees fit.

Another $15,000 was awarded to Building a Better Boyertown to make pedestrian improvements to
handle the anticipated 20,000 to 30,000 annual visitors who will come to the borough as a result of the train.

Plans for this money include new parking and directional signs, information kiosks, a walking tour app and a part-time employee to address weeding, sweeping and general gardening maintenance of sidewalks, according to a release from the foundation.

The railroad is owned and operated by the non-profit Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust and this fall began offering rides on its historic Secret Valley nine-mile excursion line between Boyertown and Pottstown.

Built during the Civil War, the rail line served the iron industry until it fell into disuse.

In 2001, Berks County acquired the line, but it was abandoned in 2008.

Two years later, it was reactivated by the Berks County Redevelopment authority by the Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad, which was in turn purchased by the Colebrookdale Preservation Trust earlier this year.

In June, the railroad received a $676,029 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority toward the cost of moving an historic rail depot from Birdsboro to Memorial Park in Pottstown to serve as the station on the Pottstown end of the ride.

At the Boyertown end of the line, plans include the development of the Boyertown Railroad Yard, including construction of a platform, a station and landscaping.

The remaining grant money from the Boyertown Charitable Program was distributed as follows.

• $5,000 to the Foundation for Boyertown Education for a drug abuse prevention program in the Boyertown School District.

• $2,500 to Gilbertsville Fire and Rescue Company to buy fire and rescue equipment.

• $1,000 to the Save Our Boyertown Clock Foundation to repair and restore the town clock atop Church of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ on Philadelphia Avenue.

• $500 to the Greater Berks Food Bank to support a weekender backpack program in Boyertown School District. The program gives backpacks full of food to students in need.

• $250 to the Clay on Main art community and resource center to operate an art activity tent at the annual Boyertown Fun Days.

Last month, the Boyertown Area Community Fund and the Boyer Foundation Fund, both of which are administered by the Berks County Community Foundation, celebrated the distribution of more than $1 million to 65 organizations since 1997.

The millionth dollar awarded was part of $5,094 that the Boyer Foundation Fund gave to the Boyertown Lions Community Ambulance Service.

Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for the region by developing, managing and distributing charitable funds aimed at improving the quality of life in Berks County.

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