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Cleared of contaminants, park to rise at former PennDOT site


Earlier this year, Doylestown Borough began a long-awaited transformation of its North Broad Street gateway when it acquired the former PennDOT maintenance yard and administrative building and garage.

Plans to create an urban park on the 3½-acre site that was once home to snow plows and a salt shed are well underway, said Phil Ehilinger, the borough’s deputy manager, in a recent interview.

“We cleared the site of debris, the salt shed and other structures within 30 days, using our own men and equipment,” said Ehlinger, who also heads the public works department. The crew removed the entire property of asphalt. “All 3½ acres were impervious surface,” said Ehlinger. “It was a major undertaking.”

The property was listed as a “brownfield” by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which means it had environmental hazards, such as pollutants in the soil, Ehlinger said. Now cleared of the contaminants, clean soil from Delaware Valley University has been added, as well as a barrier fabric, as required by the DEP. An additional 16 inches of soil will also be added to support plantings of trees, grass and groundcover plants.

Although the project did stall for about six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ehlinger said, “we’re ahead of schedule and under budget.” The passive park should be open to the public by the end of 2021.

Original estimates to develop the park by outside firms came in as high as $2.3 million, Ehlinger said. “The borough couldn’t afford that.” The public works crew of nine will complete the project for “well under $1 million,” said the director.

“It’s our biggest project by far and the crew’s enjoyed it.”

Across the street is the transportation agency’s former offices and garage, which are being repurposed into the borough’s administrative offices and the Central Bucks Regional Police Department’s headquarters.

A $7.9 million contract for that project was awarded to P.J. Dick Inc., a Pittsburgh-based construction firm, said borough manager, John Davis. “We’re really thrilled to have them.”

Davis said, the extensive reconstruction is expected to be completed by early 2022.

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