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Policies & Actions

The policies and actions in this section affirm the Conestoga River as an asset and major focus of the City’s long-range plans. Four major elements are presented, corresponding to the framework concepts described above: 

  1. Laying the foundation for riverfront revitalization 
  2. Enhancing points of access to the riverfront 
  3. Extending community activities and assets to the riverfront 
  4. Realizing community development opportunities at specific points of interest on the riverfront

Policies and actions use the acronym “CRF” in their titles, indicating they are part of the Conestoga Riverfront Framework. 


Policy CRF–1.1: Conestoga Riverfront Corridor 

Define and distinguish the importance of the Riverfront Corridor by identifying it as a special place and area of focus on the Comprehensive Plan maps and other official maps. Identify key locations for river access, facilities, and community and economic development activities. 

Action CRF–1.1A: Conservation Overlay District 

Establish a Conservation Overlay District along the Conestoga River that emphasizes the protection, conservation, and restoration of the most environmentally sensitive lands. Specific areas to consider for inclusion are Sunnyside, Conestoga Pines, City Water Works, City Operations Center at Riverside Avenue in Lancaster Township, Hands Woods, Holly Pointe Park and Nature Preserve (partially owned by Lancaster County Conservancy), and adjacent cemeteries. 

Action CRF–1.1B: Integrating the River into Parks Master Planning

Emphasize recreational opportunities in and around the Conestoga River in the City’s upcoming Parks and Recreation Plan. Specify and prioritize capital improvement projects that connect the river to the broader park system and enhance the City park experience as a whole. Include projects that improve river access, such as trailheads, trail links, active and passive park spaces along the river, paddling facilities and other amenities. Developing these amenities requires new and innovative approaches that can amplify the power and impact of the Parks Plan. 

Policy CRF–1.2: Intermunicipal Cooperation for Riverfront Initiative

Work with adjacent municipalities to gain agreement on the Conestoga River Corridor designation and participation in a broader Conestoga Riverfront Initiative to realize the river’s full potential. Opportunities for re-engagement with the river are not uniquely contained within a single municipality. Explore utilizing the existing Lancaster Inter-Municipal Council to coordinate specific projects and actions, including development of river trails and mixed use development at key nodes. 

Action CRF–1.2A: Infrastructure and Land Development Alignment

Develop collaborative agreements to align infrastructure and land development along the river. Potential agreements could address connections to Bridgeport, Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) solutions, and improvements at other City-owned properties such as Conestoga Pines and the Operations Center. 

Policy CRF–1.3: Shared Clean Water Investments

Cooperate with neighboring municipalities and partner organizations upstream on the Conestoga River to clean up tributaries in the watershed. Seek policy changes with Pennsylvania and federal agencies to allow the City and its partners to invest in upstream projects that will directly benefit the City’s water quality goals, natural environment, and residents. Upstream projects may include pollution reduction plans, stormwater system improvements, riparian tree planting, and other interventions that achieve regional objectives in a more cost-effective, less piecemeal fashion.


Policy CRF–2.1: Conestoga River Water Trail Development

Facilitate the creation of a viable, contiguous water trail for boaters and paddlers, including accessible points of entry through easements or other means. Water trail development may also include other supporting facilities such as signage, trail heads, and connections. 

Action CRF–2.1A: River Water Trail Access Points

Identify locations for boat launches on City property and/or within City boundaries, including at least two to three boat launches with ADA universal design. Consider recommendations from the Conestoga River Water Trail Access Improvement Plan.

Policy CRF–2.2: River Water Trail Management

Work with relevant government agencies (e.g., Fish and Game Commission, DCNR, DEP) and local organizations (e.g., Conestoga River Club) to ensure adequate management and operation of River Trail facilities, including boat launches and portages. Enhance safety of the trail through good design, surveillance, emergency contact systems, and best practices. 

Policy CRF–2.3: Conestoga Greenway Development

Complete a contiguous Conestoga Greenway walking and biking trail along the full extent of the City’s riverfront (and beyond). Clearly designate the Greenway trail on City-owned properties and acquire property or easement rights on private property to fill in missing trail segments. 

Action CRF–2.3A: Greenway Connection Extensions

Extend the existing Conestoga Greenway north to connect with the Lancaster Heritage Pathway at Conestoga Pines and with the Water Street Trail at Engleside. 

Action CRF–2.3B: Intermunicipal Trail Cooperation 

Develop a cooperative agreement with the Lancaster Inter-Municipal Committee or neighboring municipalities to extend the Conestoga Greenway to and through neighboring municipalities. Achieving full connectivity between the Lancaster Heritage Pathway and Engleside, for example, requires City coordination with East Lampeter, West Lampeter, and Lancaster Townships. Work for future regional connections to other trails, such as west to Millersville and south to the Enola Low Grade Trail. 

Action CRF–2.3C: Riverfront Development Organization 

Establish a new entity or partner with an existing organization to acquire riverfront parcels and easements within the Conestoga Riverfront Corridor. The acquisition of properties would be focused on sites that could be redeveloped for riverfront access and revitalization. 

Policy CRF–2.4: In-River Recreation Amenities 

Promote recreational use of the river beyond fishing and non-motorized boating. Investigate concepts such as a whitewater kayaking course, ropes courses over the river, obstacle courses, and other scalable activities. One or more unique and commercially viable attractions should
be facilitated. 


Policy CRF–3.1: Neighborhood Connections to the Riverfront 

Identify and prioritize connections to locations where residents can experience and appreciate the river’s ecology and beauty. Proactively incorporate such spaces in land development and capital improvement projects, which may include trails, public access to natural features, and community gathering spaces. Strawberry Street Bridge, Hand’s Woods, and Conestoga Pines Park each present unique opportunities for enhancing neighborhood connections to the river. 

Policy CRF–3.2: Environmental Center of Excellence 

Pursue the creation of an independent Environmental Center of Excellence that advances the core priorities of the Conestoga Riverfront Vision: Ecology, Education, Recreation, and Economic Development. This Center is proposed to include elements such as natural lands, low-impact building(s) or facilities, and community programs. Development of a Center should involve the direct partnership and investment of a stakeholder organization or organizations who can provide leadership and expertise. 

Policy CRF–3.3: Ecological Conservation Standards

Within the Conservation Overlay District, set standards for the sustainable community use of riverfront lands for recreation and development. Advance best management practices for clean water, as well as proactive restoration of habitat. Ensure community use of the riverfront maintains or improves the quality of its ecosystems. 

Policy CRF–3.4: Community Partnerships and Programming

Partner with neighborhood, resident, and organizational stakeholders to help guide decisions regarding the design of riverfront programs and facilities. Input from neighbors, educational institutions, recreation organizations, and economic agencies should be invited, and best practices from other communities should be considered. 


Policy CRF–4.1: Neighborhood Development at Engleside 

Create a vibrant place and dense, mixed-use hub at and around Engleside, with direct public connections to the riverfront. Assign appropriate land uses to facilitate these goals. Plan and design major infrastructure improvements (such as CSO upgrades, redevelopment of the Public Works building in Lancaster Township, and roadway changes) with a clear intention to make Engleside a place where the public can access the river, recreation, and commercial attractions. The design of private development and public infrastructure should emphasize stormwater retention and water quality, in line with the City’s consent decree (see also Policy PB-9 in Chapter 4.)

Action CRF–4.1A: Small Area Plan for Engleside

Undertake and complete a Small Area Plan for the Engleside area to carry out the Policy above. Because the Engleside area spans three municipalities, establish an intermunicipal agreement and work in concert with Lancaster Township and West Lampeter to execute the plan and bring it to reality.

Policy CRF–4.2: Neighborhood Development at Bridgeport

Create a vibrant place and dense mixed-use hub at and around Bridgeport, with direct public connections to the Riverfront. Build upon the planning and development efforts in the Bridgeport Crossroads report, which lays out intermunicipal priorities east of the river. Implement recommended infrastructure projects and maximize economic benefits to city residents. 

Action CRF–4.2A: Planning Analysis for Bridgeport

Undertake and complete the next phase of planning for the Bridgeport area. Further review City land uses, as well as key projects and actions, to increase neighborhood livability and align with emerging plans for Bridgeport. Facilitate direct links to jobs, shopping, health care, and other needs. Improve facilities for active transportation modes, including Greenway and River trail connections, as well as non-motorized upgrades to the Bridgeport bridge.

Policy CRF–4.3: Environmental Center of Excellence at Sunnyside Preserve

Site an Environmental Center of Excellence at the Sunnyside Preserve. Any facility should uphold high standards of green design and be integrated with the preserve and its planned activities. A center could allow residents and organizations to convene and learn about the key issues facing the community and ways to conserve, restore, and celebrate the natural habitat and environment at the preserve, in our region, and beyond.

Action CRF– 4.3A: Sunnyside Nature and Recreation Preserve

Establish a preserve on the undeveloped northern portion of the Sunnyside Peninsula (approximately 70 acres owned by the City). Seek non-profit options for the long-term stewardship, management, and operations of the preserve. Use zoning regulations, easements, and other tools to designate the Sunnyside Preserve as a permanent natural asset and opportunity for community recreation. Any parkland designation should allow for specific complementary, commercial uses that support and sustain the Preserve.

Action CRF–4.3B: Master Design of Sunnyside Preserve

Undertake and complete a Master Design or Small Area Plan for the Sunnyside Preserve. This Master Site Design will guide the fine-grained decisions with respect to the physical design, programming, and governance of the spaces and facilities that support the overarching mission of a nature and recreation preserve. The Master Design process should be guided by an expert consultant and involve local environmental groups, neighborhoods, educational institutions, and recreation organizations. 

Action CRF–4.3C: Eco District at Sunnyside Peninsula South

Establish an Eco District Overlay on the southern portion of the Sunnyside Peninsula, in keeping with the preserve to the north. Future infrastructure, housing and other buildings should be developed at standards that have a net benefit or minimal impact on the sensitive Sunnyside environment. Building and site design should favor green features, such as renewable energy, solar orientation, low lot coverage, and water/sewer facilities that do not require additional City infrastructure. (See Policy PB-7 in Chapter 4 for additional guidance on Sunnyside.)

Policy CRF–4.5: Re-Use of the County Youth Intervention Center (YIC)

Redevelop or adaptively re-use the building and site that currently functions as the Youth Intervention Center. The current building and parking lot are much too large for the services being provided. Seek opportunities to relocate the YIC functions and redevelop the site in line with the Sunnyside Preserve vision. If YIC functions remain at this site, seek a compatible partner or partners to share the building space. Utilize excessive parking on site to serve Sunnyside Preserve activities and amenities. 

Policy CRF–4.6: Conestoga Pines Park

Develop Conestoga Pines Park as a unique urban open space with enhanced natural features and exceptional connectivity to the city and surrounding areas. Add connections to adjacent trail systems, create boating amenities, restore the natural lands, improve links to the Conestoga Pines neighborhood to the north. Support complementary education and recreation programming that serves City residents. 

Action CRF–4.6A: Conestoga Pines Park Master Plan

Implement the Master Plan for Conestoga Pines Park and Walnut Street Fishing Area, completed in 2023, which further details the policy goals and execution.

Policy CRF–4.7: Lancaster County Central Park

Facilitate expanded awareness and use of the County Central Park as a nature and recreation asset for city residents. Increasing residential and commercial development along Chesapeake Street and Duke Street will attract residents to the river and require greater multi-modal connectivity to the County Park, added wayfinding signage, and new accessways through surrounding properties. 

Action CRF–4.7A: Strawberry Street Bridge Gateway

Establish the Strawberry Street Bridge entering County Central Park as a key gateway to the Conestoga River and the Lancaster County Central Park. Explore the provision of amenities at or around this gateway for park users, such as boat launches and low-intensity food and drink.