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The inspiration to reclaim the Conestoga Riverfront as a community asset arose through engagement with residents and stakeholders during the Comprehensive Plan Update. The Riverfront Vision can be summarized through four core priorities:

  • Ecology: Align and advance conservation and water quality efforts to improve health outcomes and biodiversity, plan for flood resilience and mitigate the impacts of climate change. 
  • Education: Provide educational and workforce learning opportunities for City residents related to water systems and environmental health.
  • Recreation: Develop recreation opportunities centered on the river to promote exercise, enjoyment, learning, tourism, and business growth.
  • Economic Development: Encourage, through investment and other supports, concerted economic and land development at select neighborhood nodes where mixed-use building is appropriate and beneficial.

Restoration initiatives must be rooted in equity: the river itself has been treated as a sewer for more than a century. The residential communities bordering the river in the city are predominantly lower income communities of color that have experienced decades of disinvestment. Through foresight and good planning, it is possible to chart a new path. This could include partnerships with the School District and other educational institutions to prepare young people for “green collar” jobs in environmental science, water, and sustainability.

This Comprehensive Plan sets the stage for a new Conestoga Riverfront Initiative. Its scope is ambitious and multi-faceted and will require the engagement of partner organizations, completion of numerous projects, and effective multi-jurisdictional coordination over the next 20 years and beyond.