Douglass Township’s Municipal Park stands the test of time

The Douglass Township Municipal Park sits, appropriately, directly behind the municipal building on Douglass Drive in Boyertown. This unassuming park makes great use of each of its 8 acres. Even though it’s only considered a medium sized park in the Penn State Study, there is a lot going on and plenty to do.

The park is home to Pine Forge Athletic Association’s baseball and softball programs, which run in the spring and the fall. The fields are beautifully maintained, but the largest field is for use with a permit only.  Spectators can enjoy amphitheater style seating at the big field, while the upper fields have small bleachers and are more the BYOC type (bring your own chair).

If you’re at the park for a game, be sure to check out some of the other activities it offers. With a covered pavilion, it’s a nice spot for a meal after the game.  There are two basketball courts, three tennis courts and two playgrounds.

Unlike other parks, which separate their playgrounds into age groups, Municipal Park’s playgrounds are separated by age of equipment. A new, modern play structure that has recently been covered with netting, to ensure that fly balls do not become hazardous to kids on the slide or the monkey bars, sits just behind the big field and below the softball field. Closer to the main entrance of the park is the “nostalgic” playground equipment.

My oldest daughter played fall ball for Pine Forge last year, and my younger kids loved the Conestoga wagon, the swings and the old metal slide that made up the lower playground. They were a little disappointed to find that the slide has now been replaced with a less heat retaining plastic version, but they were thrilled to find that the metal merry-go-round was still there. I guess some play equipment can really stand the test of time because they pick that lower playground over the newer equipment pretty much every time we visit the park.

Municipal Park is mostly a baseball and softball destination, but unlike some other fields we’ve visited, there are more than enough other activities to keep your family busy, whether you are visiting during a game or stopping in for a game of tennis or basketball. The layout of the park is also very smart, with all the sports action centered around the playgrounds.

Location: 1068 Douglass Drive, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: 8 acres
Suitability:  Although Municipal Park is geared toward baseball and softball, there are many other things to do for all ages and interests.
Facilities: Playgrounds, pavilions, picnic tables, tennis courts, basketball court, baseball
Activities and tips: If you are at the park for a game, be sure to check out everything it has to offer.  Bring a basketball or your tennis gear.  Note: if you are headed to Municipal Park for softball, the parking lot is accessed by a gravel drive that runs behind the baseball fields.  There is a large sign directing cars around the back and up the hill to the parking area for the softball fields. The fields are generally accessible, with the caveat that the parking is all gravel.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.

Douglass Township Municipal Building
1068 Douglass Drive
Boyertown, PA. 19512
Office:  610-367-8500     Fax: 610-367-0360
Office Hours: Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Douglass Township Parks & Recreation webpage
For park pavilion rentals, see here.

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.


Childhood obesity declared national epidemic: Take your child to a park today!

Note: The article below is the first in a four-part series on Childhood Obesity presented by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Corresponding Webisodes are available for viewing on

Positively!Pottstown has teamed up with the Foundation to promote the parks and recreational opportunities in its service area, which includes Pottstown and a 10-mile radius around Pottstown. You can find the series here. We will be posting new articles every weekday through the first week of November.


By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

A recent White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President, Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, released some startling information—childhood obesity has become an epidemic in America and it is now considered a national health crisis. An epidemic, by definition, is a rapid spread or development of something. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of childhood obesity has actually tripled over the past 30 years. Obesity among children ages six to 11 increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. Adolescent obesity in 12 to 19 year olds increased from 5% in 1980 to 18.1% in 2008.

In addition to these startling statistics, the Report to the President cited that one third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime and the current generation may even be on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The Report goes on to say that the epidemic of childhood obesity is costing more than $3 billion a year in direct medical expenses and that is likely to rise if not stopped. Childhood obesity will also have a potential impact on the United States’ military readiness. More than one quarter of all Americans aged 17-24 are unqualified for military service because they are too heavy.

What is obesity?
Obesity is defined by an accumulation of excess body fat. There are different criteria to determine if a child is considered obese. Two of the more common methods are measuring skin-fold thickness, which classifies a child as overweight if he or she has at least 25-30% body fat, and using Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the measurement of a person’s weight in relation to his or her height. To calculate BMI, multiply the person’s weight in pounds and divide that by the square of his or her height in inches. For adults, overweight is a BMI greater than 25; obese is a BMI greater than 30. Growth charts from the CDC are used to calculate a child’s BMI based on sex and age because of changes during growth and development. A child is considered overweight if his or her BMI is at or above the 85th percentile; they are considered obese if the BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.

How did we get here?
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the childhood obesity epidemic. The tendency for a child to be overweight can actually start before birth. If the mother uses tobacco, gains excessive weight or has diabetes, that child has an increased risk of being obese during the preschool years.

Other contributing factors are the changes in the American lifestyle over the last 30 years. This includes eating more fast foods, convenience foods, and processed foods and drinking more sugar-laden beverages. Often, families don’t sit down together to have dinner anymore. Dinner is on the run and fit in between activities, which usually means going through the fast food drive-in. Add this factor to the decrease of exercise children are getting because of an increase in sedentary activities like TV viewing, playing video games, and socializing on a computer or cell phone. Also, children rarely walk or bike to school anymore. They are driven or take the bus. Children who watch a lot of TV are also more likely to snack; plus, getting too much “screen” time has been associated with children getting less and poorer quality sleep. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a risk of obesity.

Children whose parents are overweight or obese are also at risk. The parents are not living a healthful lifestyle and that becomes the child’s role model. Surprisingly, psychological factors are a contributing factor. Overeating is a way to cope with problems or stress, and children start to use food as a way to feel better about their situations at home or at school. Finally, there are socioeconomic factors. Children of low-income families are at risk due to fewer resources and less time to make exercise and eating well a priority.

What are we doing?
Even with all this disconcerting news, the Report to the President is hopeful that we are prepared to fight this epidemic through knowledge of what the causes are, what the risk factors are and what we can do as a country, as individual communities and as families to stop the epidemic.

In February 2010, Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move initiative to the nation. It is designed to get healthier foods in schools, give parents support to make healthier choices for their children, and get families up off the couch and active together. For more information on this program, go to

The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation continues to make strides in changing the health habits of area residents. The Foundation funds programs and services through grants to area organizations and schools that focus on teaching children and their families to live healthier lives.

About the Series – Childhood Obesity
This four-part article series was developed by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Corresponding Webisodes featuring local experts can be found on The second article will discuss the warning signs, risk factors and long-term affects of childhood obesity. The third article will discuss what schools are doing across the nation, the state of Pennsylvania and in Greater Pottstown to combat childhood obesity. The final article will focus on what parents and children can do to start to change their habits, lose weight and live healthier lives.

About the Foundation
The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s new online community at to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

Douglass Park: Worth the trip

Douglass Park in Douglass Township, Montgomery County provides recreation to the area’s 10,000 residents in this community that spans Gilbertsville, parts of Boyertown and the surrounding towns between Boyertown Borough and New Hanover Township. The park sits just behind the municipal building and offers a wide variety of possibilities for recreation for visitors of all ages.

I had been to the park a few years ago, for an end-of-the-year preschool party and remembered my son and his friends enjoying the playground and the puddles that had formed after a recent rainstorm. But, I now realized, I had only seen a small part of the park that day because we had stayed close to the pavilion near the parking area.

On my recent visit, I walked the trail that follows the outer edge of the park, past the playground and the gazebo and alongside the baseball field. As the path turned another corner, I walked past a soccer field and toward two more pavilions (conveniently numbered “2” and “3”). There were a few people playing tennis on the courts, even though a light rain had started just as I arrived. The tennis courts are a great asset as most of the other parks in the area don’t offer these among their facilities. There are two full-sized courts and a wall for practicing.

Another playground sits closer to the soccer fields, which is great for those younger siblings who get dragged along to their older siblings’ soccer games. The smaller of the two playgrounds is also situated closely to the smaller pavilions. As the path took me back to the park entrance, I noticed a basketball court next to the gravel parking lot and very close to the largest pavilion.

One of the best features of this park is its location. So many times, I find myself running errand after errand and oftentimes my kids are along for the ride. A quick stop at this park could be just what they need to run off some energy after a seemingly endless trip to the grocery store or Wal-mart. Douglass Park in Montgomery County is worth the trip.

Location: 1320 East Philadelphia Avenue, Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Size: 19.6 acres
Suitability: With all the park offers, visitors of every age can enjoy Douglass Park. The main pavilion is situated very close to the parking lot which makes for great accessibility.
Facilities: Playground, pavilions, picnic tables, grills, tennis courts, benches, gazebo, walking or running trail, basketball court, baseball and soccer fields, large open spaces.
Activities and tips: Bring a tennis racket and a friend and play a game or two, or just use the wall near the courts to practice your volley. Pack a lunch and bring the kids to the park; they will have enough to do for several hours.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Douglass Township
1320 E. Philadelphia Avenue
P.O. Box 297
Gilbertsville PA 19525

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.


Municipal & Franklin Street Parks: Small parks, big fun

While Boyertown Community Park may get most of the attention in town, and deservedly so, there are two small parks in the borough that residents and visitors alike should know about and take some time to visit: Municipal Park and Franklin Street Mini-park.

I actually started my family tour of Boyertown parks with Municipal Park. To be honest, it was a little challenging to find, because there are no markings or signage for the park. We thought a good place to look for Municipal Park would be near the municipal building, and we were right. This unassuming neighborhood spot sits directly behind the Boyertown Borough Police Department at the intersection of 3rd and Franklin Streets.

Municipal Park is home to a nice playground, a basketball court and enough open space to throw a baseball or kick around a soccer ball. The play equipment was just interesting enough to hold the attention of two 6-year-old boys while my husband and I walked around to check out the rest of the property. It’s not a destination park, but it offers some open space and room to play for neighborhood kids.

At the northern end of Franklin Street, we discovered the aptly named Franklin Street Mini-park. This park has been the subject of some recent commentary about teenagers hanging about and making it less than enjoyable for kids and their parents, but the afternoon we visited the park was nearly empty. In the Penn State study that inspired this review of area parks, Franklin Street Mini-park is listed as having “internal trails.” In this case, that phrasing may be an overstatement since the trail is the circular paved route around the play equipment. But, if your child is learning to ride a bike, or likes riding a scooter, this round track would be endless amounts of fun.

Franklin Street Mini-park

The playground offered plenty of spinning equipment, a new-fashioned teeter-totter, swings and plenty of places to run and explore. There is also a basketball court set back toward the rear of the park. It is close to the State Theatre of Boyertown (home of the cheap movie tickets!) and would be a great way to kill some time before a movie or to run off some steam after one.

Location: Franklin and 3rd Streets, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: This small park sits just behind the municipal building in Boyertown.
Suitability: Municipal Park has the feel of a neighborhood playground. With just enough to keep the kids entertained, it’s a great place to kick around a soccer ball or just let the kids play on the equipment for a bit.
Facilities: Playground, basketball court, large, fenced open space
Activities and Tips: Bring a basketball for a quick game or let the kids play on the swings. This small neighborhood park is a real asset to the surrounding houses.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Location: Franklin and 5th Streets, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: This small park occupies roughly 2 lots on the corner.
Suitability: Franklin Street Mini-park is best suited to young children. The size of the park and the scale of the playground make it perfect for pre-school and younger school-aged kids. There is a basketball court that older kids would like.
Facilities: Playground, benches, paved walkway around the play area, swings, basketball court.
Activities and Tips: This park would be a great pit stop before or after a movie. Its small size doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot for the kids to do.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Borough of Boyertown
100 South Washington Street
Boyertown, PA 19512
Phone: 610-369-3028

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Municipal Park

Franklin Street tot lot

Fun at Franklin

Taking a break...

Boyertown Community Park has something for everyone

Turning Leaf Festival Flyer

When we visited Boyertown Community Park on a Sunday afternoon, it was buzzing with activity. Boyertown Midget Baseball League’s fall ball teams were making the most of the gorgeous October weather, and the fields and bleachers were full. Beyond the athletic fields we found the playground and a great sized pavilion that would be perfect for parties or organizations to use. (Information on using the pavilion at the park can be obtained from Boyertown Borough Hall.)

The kids could not get to the playground fast enough, and with good reason. The play equipment at the park is unique – not your typical, run-of-the-mill swing set and slides. My son and his friend immediately found every piece of equipment that could spin in any way and got to work on making themselves dizzy. (If you have read my other reviews, you may be noticing a pattern of his by now.)

The coolest thing about the play equipment was that several pieces required deciphering and exploring. The boys gravitated toward one particular piece that looked like a trampoline ring without its center, but it is situated on a slant. They figured out that the entire thing spins (laughter and excitement ensued, of course), and then they started working on ways to use it – one spinning and the other sitting; one spinning and the other lying down on it; the grownups spinning it and both boys sitting til they fell off. 

As a parent, that’s what I like to see wherever we take our kids – them engaging with and exploring their surroundings. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing that spark of curiosity in my kids and watching as they figure something out, even if that something is as simple as lifting their legs off the ground while they spin at high speeds on the playground. The sense of discovery and play abounds at the Boyertown Community Park playground.

It was tough to tear them away from the playground to do more exploring, but the promise of sticks and rocks pretty much did the trick. We followed the winding path past the playground for younger kids (likely the under 5 set) and around past another pavilion to check out the amphitheater. It’s a beautiful wooden structure that looks right at home in the wooded park setting. A quick walk across one of two bridges brings you right over to the seating area for the stage.

The Boyertown Community Park will be the setting for this weekend’s Turning Leaf Fall Festival, which will include performances from local bands and a variety of activities for kids and families.  The event will be Saturday, October 16th from 11am to 8pm with a rain date of Sunday. According to the festival’s website,, the schedule of events is as follows:

  • Horse and buggy rides (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Pony rides (12 p.m.  –  3 p.m.)
  • Cow pie bingo(4 p.m.)
  • Pumpkin Pie eating contest (3 p.m.)
  • Hayrides (4 p.m – 8 p.m.)

There will also be carnival games, moon bounce, pumpkin painting activities and scarecrow-making all day. Boyertown based gallery and studio, Clayote, will be on hand to do pottery with kids as well as face painting and henna tattoos. If you head out on Saturday, be sure to also check out the alpaca exhibit.

Though it was closed for the season when we visited, the pool at the Boyertown Community Park is a popular destination for residents in the summer and a great way to beat the heat if you don’t belong to a private swim club. Daily and seasonal passes are available for the pool.


Location:  419 South Madison Street, Boyertown, PA 19512, across from Boyertown Junior High West
Size: 47 acres
Suitability: Boyertown Community Park has something for everyone in the family. From the playground to the natural beauty of its setting, this park is appropriate and accessible to all ages.
Facilities: Pavilions with picnic tables, pool, playgrounds, fields suitable for field hockey, soccer or football, baseball fields, and an amphitheater with lawn seating.
Activities and Tips: Plan to spend a good amount of time at the playground if you have kids. The equipment is new, clean and has plenty to keep them busy.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Borough of Boyertown
100 South Washington Street
Boyertown, PA  19512
Phone:  610-369-3028

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Boyertown Community Park Sign

Community Park playground

Community Park pavilion

“The Park” by Ronald C. Downie

I am so pleased to be able to post this poem submitted by poet Ronald C. Downie, who is also the Chairman of the Pottstown Borough Authority. He sent it in response to a recent article about Sanatoga Park in our Parks & Rec Series. Thank you, Ron!

The Park

Marble sized for giants – whose
Muscles lugged huge stones here ,
Epoch sung through harmonic echoes ,
Waiting with hammer and an ear ?

Glacier droppings thawed to earth
In retreat of Ice Age nights ,
Was Hudson Bay their place of birth
Under Aurora Borealis lights ?

Bare footed , shirtless , agile
Rock climbers scout to find
Cave caverns and weathered fossil
Prints of what beastly kind .

Zig zag stairs to the tower ,
Which commands a southern view ,
Potts’s dream , factory power ,
Blue collar through and through .

They board to ride steel ribbons
Through fields of yellow and green ,
Their voices join track rhythms ,
Up hills , blue skies , at pleasures dream .

Round and round swiftly sweep
Four roller shoes , they in circles flow
To ebony platters etched needle deep
Of organ music for their graceful show .

People recreate at Nature’s door :
Wooded oak hill of ringing rock ,
Pavilion roofed with hardened floor ,
Strengths of family from human stock .

At ” This Wonder Of The World ”
Which Ripley took time to note –
All the Twentieth Century unfurled –
May memories stir by this that I wrote .

( Ringing Rocks Park, Lower Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County )

Ronald C. Downie

(I wrote this poem 20 years ago when I wanted to record where we played in the mid-1940′s. The park was closed a decade earlier but this didn’t deter me and my friends from enjoying what was still left even if it was, as the tower stairs, fenced off.)

New Hanover: Getting back to nature

On their website New Hanover Township describes itself fittingly as “semi-rural.” With so much residential development in the area over the last 5-10 years it is easy to forget that a huge portion of the township is still undeveloped or farmland. A quick turn off Layfield Road (Route 663 as it changes from N. Charlotte St. once it leaves Pottstown) will remind you of New Hanover’s rural and farming roots. It is here that the three township parks dedicated to natural, open space cover a total of over 50 acres, preserved for public use. They each offer something a little different, but all contribute to both providing people with access to nature and to preserving the quality of life in New Hanover Township.

If you make a right off of 663 onto Little Road (not to be confused with Big Road or route 73) and follow the signs around a few bends, you will find yourself at a little gem of a park known as Pleasant Run Park. The setting is idyllic, with a farm nicely framed between the trees in the distance and a pond that occupies the center of the park. There is a nice, uncovered picnic table and a few benches for just sitting and soaking in the natural scenery. The open area would be a great place to bring the kids and a soccer ball or baseball.

Not too far away, just north of Pleasant Run Park sits another open space park, Deep Creek Park. The township has decided to leave this park in its natural state and only mows it a few times a year. Deep Creek Park would be a great place for an adventurous hiker who likes to really get out and explore nature. There is a picnic table near the entrance so you can grab a bite to eat before or after your walk. The park was recently mowed, so the fall should be a great time to visit.

Situated nearly at the corner of Layfield Road and Swamp Pike is the final open space park in the Township – Layfield Park. After going down a gravel drive, there is room to park at the entrance, which is on Dotterer Road as it comes north from Swamp Pike. Layfield Park has trails lining its 28 acres, so don’t be deterred by the actual trailhead. Look for an opening in the brush, go a few yards up a steep embankment, and when you come down on the other side, the park opens up onto its internal trails.

Layfield Park Trail

A trip to New Hanover Township really wouldn’t be complete without a stop at its newest acquisition, Hickory Park. The township bought the property in September of 2009 and has been making improvements ever since, with even more in the works. As the former site of the Hickory Park Campground, this park sits right at the intersection of 663 and 73 as it twists and turns at the Hickory Restaurant. The park boasts several pavilions with electrical hook-up, which can be a great benefit for parties and groups. There is also an entirely new playground to keep the kids busy and entertained. Hickory Park also has a pool with a handicapped accessible wheelchair lift. Seasonal and day passes will be available for the 2011 summer season from the township office.

Location: 600 Schultz Road, Perkiomenville, PA 18074
Size: 11.5 acres
Suitability: Commune with nature at this simple yet beautiful outdoor space. All ages can enjoy the scenery and open space at Pleasant Run.
Facilities: Picnic table, pond, large open space
Activities and Tips: While Pleasant Run doesn’t have play equipment for the kids, they could enjoy skipping rocks into the pond or exploring the wooded area nearby.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Location: Deep Creek Rd./Pleasant Run Road, just north of Pleasant Run Park. From the intersection of Route 663 and Deep Creek Road, facing north, turn right onto Deep Creek, then left onto Pleasant Run Road. The park will be on your right, just around the bend.
Size: 12 acres
Suitability: This park is in its natural state and is a great place to hike or just explore.
Facilities: Picnic table near entrance
Activities and Tips: This park is being kept in its natural state, so be ready for adventure when you head for Deep Creek.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Location: Dotterer Road, east of Layfield Road and south of Swamp Pike
Size: 28 acres
Suitability: This natural park has unpaved trails that run over relatively flat ground
Facilities: unpaved trails
Activities and Tips: Another natural park, Layfield Park is a great place to get back to nature, if you bring your hiking boots
Hours: Dawn till dusk

Location: 2140 Big Road, Gilbertsville, PA 19525, near the intersection of 663
Size: 21 acres
Suitability: This newly acquired park has enough to keep the whole family busy for hours and makes a great place for parties.
Facilities: Covered pavilions with electricity, playground, swimming pool (in season), basketball court, volleyball court, grills and more
Activities and Tips: This park, acquired by the township in late 2009, has a great array of facilities with more in the works. Visit over the winter and check it out and then come back in the summer when the pool is open. Day and season passes will be available from the township offices.
Hours: Dawn until dusk


New Hanover Township
2943 North Charlotte Street
Gilbertsville, PA 19525-9718
Phone: (610) 323-1008
Fax: (610) 323-5173
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.


Pleasant Run Park Sign
Deep Creek Park path
Layfield Park Sign
Hickory Park Pavilions
Hickory Park Pool
Hickory Park playground
Hickory Park fun

Middle Creek and Optimist Club Fields: Central location for organized sports

Middle Creek field
Still in New Hanover Township, if you head north on Route 663, in the vicinity of Swamp Pike, you get a pretty good reminder that the area surrounding the borough of Pottstown is still very rural.

Take a left onto Dotterer Road (west) to get to the Middle Creek and Optimist Club Athletic Fields. Just behind the Boyertown Area YMCA building, turn right down the gravel road, and you will first encounter the Middle Creek Athletic Fields. The soccer field there is used by the Boyertown Soccer Club, and the baseball field by Pine Forge’s Athletic Association. These fields are conveniently located and well maintained with ample room for parking and spectators.

Just a bit further down the road and adjacent to the new housing developments, which are also a common sight in this popular township, are the Optimist Club Fields and the recently re-named Anthony “Tony” Gambone Athletic Complex in the Windlestrae development. Big plans are in the works with a fundraising campaign by the Optimist Club Wrestling and Youth Associations to expand offerings at this site.

Location: Dotterer Road, just behind the Boyertown YMCA. Use the Y’s address for a GPS or mapping program: 3065 N Charlotte St, Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Size: 10 acres
Suitability: Soccer fields and baseball field are open to the public
Facilities: Full size soccer and baseball/softball field
Hours: Dawn till dusk

Location: Dotterer Road, just behind the Boyertown YMCA. Use the Y’s address for a GPS or mapping program: 3065 N Charlotte St, Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Size: 10 acres
Suitability: All fields are open to the public
Facilities: Full size soccer, football and baseball/softball field, picnic tables and sports seating
Hours: Dawn till dusk

New Hanover Township
2943 North Charlotte Street
Gilbertsville, PA 19525-9718
Phone: (610) 323-1008
Fax: (610) 323-5173
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm

Boyertown Soccer Club
Optimist Club International
Pine Forge Athletic Association
Boyertown Area YMCA

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

New Hanover Community Park: Like an old friend

While Swamp Creek Park was new to me, New Hanover Community Park is like an old friend. The brown park sign at the corner of Kleman Road and North Charlotte Street directs you to New Hanover Community Park, which is nestled into a residential neighborhood in Gilbertsville, New Hanover Township. Make a right onto Gail Drive, follow it to the end and you will find the entrance to this 20-acre property that boasts a paved trail, a playground and more – something for everyone in the family.

When my kids were in preschool, this was the favorite gathering place for lunch and playtime after pick-up for moms and kids alike. With a completely fenced-in playground, it’s a perfect place to let the kids have a little bit of freedom while you hang out with friends and enjoy a packed lunch at the covered pavilion. The proximity of the picnic area to the playground is just right for moms with multiple kids; you can keep the baby in the stroller while the older kids play and run on the playground. I have spent probably more than my share of time at this park with my kids, often staying the whole afternoon until my oldest was due home from elementary school.

Again, in the category of things that make adults feel nauseous, the tire swing is a huge hit with my kids, even as they get older. My normally reluctant 8th grader couldn’t resist the temptation of spinning around at high speeds with her younger siblings, even if the result was a bit of a headache and some residual dizziness.

We walked off the motion sickness by following the ½ mile track that circles the park. The fall colors were beautiful and the gently sloped path was full of people on the Sunday afternoon that we visited. The secluded location of New Hanover Community Park doesn’t mean it’s deserted; in fact, in all the times we’ve been there, I don’t think it’s ever been empty. It fits comfortably into the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent wooded area and really gives the feeling of being immersed in nature – even as your kids can climb dinosaurs, a huge car structure, or maybe take a turn on the swings.

One of the features I had never seen before is the disc golf course that sits just below the walking path of the park. My memories of Frisbee golf from college involve regular Frisbees with trash cans for targets, but the concept has since evolved into a real sport. If you want to try it for yourself, the appropriate discs are available locally at sporting goods stores.

The park also boasts a deck hockey rink that can be fun for more than just hockey players. Bring a scooter or some roller blades and enjoy the smooth surface of the rink (and the enclosed structure will appeal to moms and kids alike).

Location: 2766 Gail Drive, Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Size: 20.4 acres
Suitability: There is something for every age. The playground is suitable for toddlers and up.
Facilities: picnic tables, covered pavilion, playground, hockey rink, ½ mile walking trail, basketball court, baseball field, disc golf course.
Activities and Tips: Pack a lunch and bring the kids to the park for the afternoon.
Hours: Dawn till dusk

New Hanover Township
2943 North Charlotte Street
Gilbertsville, PA 19525-9718
Phone: (610) 323-1008
Fax: (610) 323-5173
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.


Swamp Creek Park, where dreams soar

When Sue first approached me about this parks project, I have to admit I felt a little smug. After all, I have been raising my kids in Pottstown for the last ten years and have seen my fair share of the area’s parks. I really thought I was a bit of an expert on the subject, or at least had something of an advantage when it came to the parks. Many of those in the study have been familiar to me, but this one took me completely by surprise.

My family and I had made a pit stop at the Wawa at the corner of North Charlotte Street and Swamp Pike for supplies (coffee for my husband and me, water bottles for the kids), and I asked a New Hanover Township Police Officer for directions to Swamp Creek Park.  I had seen the signs for the park over the years, on my way up and down 663 or Swamp Pike but had never actually been to the park.

The officer said, “Oh, the airplane park, right?” And then nicely gave us quick and easy directions to this unique spot that sits behind the New Hanover Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Still, I wasn’t quite sure what the officer meant until we got to the park and realized that it has a huge open space, dedicated to model airplane flying-not something you see every day. We parked the car and got out to take a look around. Although Swamp Creek doesn’t have a playground, my kids were enthralled with the whole place.  There is something so peaceful about the setting. They especially loved the bank of white birches at one end of the one-mile trail that circles the park. The airfield sits in the center, with its manicured grass and the equipment for flying the planes. I knew that day that I wanted to come back to catch the airplanes in action, so this past Sunday we went back to see what it was all about.

I have to say, we were not disappointed. The model planes are truly amazing and the members of the Swamp Creek Radio Control Modelers were friendly and helpful and more than willing to explain the different aircraft they were using. We were fascinated watching two members with their gliders, deftly flinging them skyward and then using remotes to control their movements. If you want to see the airplanes for yourself, just make plans to visit the park in the morning, between 9 a.m. and 12 noon on a day that’s not too windy; you are sure to find at least a few members using the park.

The Swamp Creek Radio Control Modelers meet monthly and fly their planes as often as weather permits. You don’t have to be a member to use the park airfield, but you will have to obtain a permit at the New Hanover Township Building and have a current membership with the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

After spending some time looking for white birch bark that my kids could take to school for show and tell, we started walking the path around the park. My youngest two took off running and made use of the benches that dot the trail to wait up for the rest of us as we were moving at a more leisurely pace. 

The park is also home to two sites being restored by the New Hanover Historical Society– the Swamp Creek Schoolhouse and the Dengler Summer Kitchen.

According to their website: “Built in 1853, the Swamp Creek School on Reifsnyder Road has been carefully restored by society volunteers and today serves as the society’s home and meeting place. Housed there is a collection of township school memorabilia and an extensive school book collection. Additionally, the school serves as a field trip destination for school groups where Nineteenth Century school life can be experienced.”

I’m looking forward to taking my kids back to Swamp Creek Park when the schoolhouse is open so we can fully enjoy the historical aspect of this beautiful park, and walking the trail again and again as the leaves fall this autumn.

SWAMP CREEK PARK (New Hanover Twp., Montgomery County)
Location: 3179 Reifsnyder Road, Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Size: 27 acres
Suitability: This beautiful park is great for all ages.  The level walking/jogging path appeals to all ages and abilities.
Facilities:Picnic pavilion, paved trail, model airfield, historical features, exercise equipment
Activities and Tips: Weekend mornings are a great time to catch the model airplanes in action-as long as it’s not too windy. Drop by the park on a Sunday afternoon to get a glimpse of New Hanover’s past in its historical schoolhouse. Get your exercise by walking or running the one-mile path around this beautiful park.
Hours: Dawn to Dusk. Schoolhouse open Sundays, March through November from 2-4pm

New Hanover Township
2943 North Charlotte Street
Gilbertsville, PA 19525-9718
Phone: (610) 323-1008
Fax: (610) 323-5173
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm

New Hanover Township Historical Society
c/o New Hanover Township Building
2943 North Charlotte Street
Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Swamp Creek Schoolhouse at 7pm for a program, followed by a business meeting.  New members and visitors are welcome.

Swamp Creek R/C Modelers
Meets every third Sunday at Swamp Creek Park, April through September, at 12:30

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