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Students break new ground with community trails project

As the City of Bethlehem prepares to construct the second phase of the South Bethlehem Greenway, Lehigh students are stepping up to help.

Under the guidance of Vincent Munley, professor of economics, and Richard Weisman, professor of civil and environmental engineering, students in the Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) program are developing ideas for a section of the rails-to-trails project running between Third and Fourth streets from New Street to Taylor Street.

Designed by Simone Collins Landscape Architecture of Norristown, Pa., the Greenway is a 60-foot-wide linear park with a paved path. When completed, it will run more than two miles through Bethlehem’s South Side, from the old Union Station to Saucon Park, following the former path of the Norfolk-Southern Railway. The city has completed the first portion, along Daly Avenue from Hayes Street to the Minsi Trail Bridge, in partnership with Sands Casino.

On Thursday, Sept. 9, Lehigh President Alice Gast joined municipal and state government officials to break ground on construction of the Greenway’s second phase.

Students in the ILE program come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including civil engineering, architecture and economics. For the Greenway project, they are interviewing residents and community business owners and drafting a report with architectural renderings that might be included in a grant proposal. Among the improvements they are considering are a community garden, a playground and a performance space.

Out of the studio, into the community

Evan Cerilli ’11, one of the ILE students, says, “This is a real-life experience. Usually I’m in the studio making things in a virtual space, but here, I’m dealing with real people and learning to work with the community. I feel that’s the university’s role: to teach people to work in their neighborhood.”

Previous ILE class projects have included the Ulrich Sports Complex and the Mulvihill Golf Learning Center. The Greenway is the first assignment to take students beyond Lehigh’s campus and is part of the university’s dedication to building partnerships in the community. The new path will serve as a major pedestrian highway connecting Lehigh to the South Side’s commercial district through New Street and the university’s Campus Square complex.

“Lehigh University is at its best when we bring the things we learn in the classroom into practice in the community,” says Gast. “Lehigh is proud to contribute to this effort and we hope that members of the community will rally around the park and continue to develop it for all to enjoy.

“The Campus Square gateway invites the community to our campus. By establishing a presence on New Street, we hope to extend that invitation further.”

 

Story by Emily Groff

Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010

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