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Tamaqua takes step for riverwalk

The Tamaqua Area Community Partnership recently purchased a key property to eventually create the Tamaqua Riverwalk and Waterfront.

The development won’t happen overnight, but plans are to have a downtown walkway that borders the Little Schuylkill River, along with places for fishing, paddle boating and public events.

“It’s been a long time goal to create a downtown walkway along the river,” said Micah Gursky, the partnership’s executive director.

According to Schuylkill County records, the partnership bought the home at 233 Cedar St. - which lies along the river - for $92,000.

Gursky said the idea for the outdoor, waterfront plaza surfaced in the Tamaqua 2001 Community Action Plan.

“If you go back to that plan, which is now part of the Tamaqua Choose Happiness Plan which the borough officially adopted in June, it very clearly talks about improving our waterfront, access to the water and recreation,” he explained.

Since then, a river-level walkway has been ruled out do to wide hydraulic fluctuations, but Gursky said a street level walkway is possible thanks to the recent purchase.

The Tamaqua Choose Happiness plan calls the river a “tremendous resource” and notes that a walkway would connect to other trails and bring tourists and others to the downtown.

“The people who use the river walk will also bring more, and new businesses to the downtown to serve the tourist market,” the plan says.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed area shows green space and bistros.

“We still have a long way to go and it’s taking a very long time, but the vision remains the same,” Gursky said.

The 233 Cedar St. purchase follows the nonprofit partnership’s July purchase of the former U.S. Towing Service at 201 Cedar St. and a garage at 219 Cedar St.

It also purchased a 1.1-acre junkyard on South Greenwood Street.

“The goal is to eliminate blight and dangerous properties in the community - and to re-purpose them,” Gursky said in August.

While plans for those properties haven’t been solidified, Gursky said the junkyard will be cleaned.

Like 233 Cedar St., the Greenwood property borders the river. It lies across the water from a previously developed river walk. That paved trail begins at Cedar Street alongside the Boyer’s Food Store.

Gursky hinted that the junkyard could become a park.

The recent acquisitions were made possible through state funding. Gursky said it’s often a waiting game - sometimes the funding is there, but the properties are not, and vice versa.


The partnership is no stranger to revitalization; its mission focuses on recreation, downtown revitalization, historical preservation, tourist development, economic development, housing and neighborhood improvement and arts and culture.

Since its inception as the Tamaqua Area 2004 Partnership in 1994, it has worked on significant and recognizable improvement projects.

Earlier this year, it purchased the former Moose building at 133 E. Broad St. The long-vacant building will be converted into a new police station, district magistrate office and community center.

To provide a parking area, the partnership bought and leveled blighted properties at 25-33 E. Mauch Chunk St. and 10 Pine St.

The partnership took ownership of a dilapidated apartment building at 137 Pine St. in 2017. The following year, Hope & Coffee, a partnership project and vision of Silberline chairwoman Lisa Scheller, opened as a thriving shop aimed at normalizing recovery.

It purchased the former Salem United Methodist Church at 125 Pine St. in 2011, and turned it into the successful Tamaqua Community Arts Center.

The partnership owns the historic Tamaqua Train Station in the center of town, a structure that was slated for the wrecking ball before concerned individuals stepped up to form Tamaqua Save Our Station.

The building underwent extensive renovations and the property was turned over to the partnership late last year.

With other agencies, it helped turn a dilapidated shoe factory on Hazle Street into 14 apartments, and continues to assist with housing developments.

Among the most recent are the creation of upper-floor living spaces on West Broad Street and renovations at the Berwick House Apartments.

The organization has helped attract businesses to the borough, including Wheel-Tamaqua, Stoker’s Brewing Company and Revere Brewing.

Its Tamaqua Choose Happiness campaign continues and is an effort to make Tamaqua a place where people’s happiness is a community goal.

Left: The Tamaqua Area Community Partnership purchased this home at 233 Cedar St. in Tamaqua to eventually create the Tamaqua Riverwalk and Waterfront. JILL WHALEN/TIMES NEWS