September 24, 2018
One of the most rewarding projects for partner Mark A. Hosterman is playing a pivotal and on-going role in preserving the historic Fricks Locks Village in East Coventry Township.
Fricks Locks is a canal-era village which lies directly across the Schuylkill River from the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. Its residents were forced to abandon their homes and businesses by exercise of eminent domain in the 1960’s to clear the way for splitting atoms. The empty village seemed destined to decay into ruins. Vandals and thieves accelerated the demise of the historic structures by breaking windows, scrawling graffiti on historic stone and plaster walls, destroying railings and other architectural details, and looting copper, antique radiators, and other remaining valuables. Rumors abounded that the village was haunted which brought regular traffic from late-night paranormal enthusiasts.
The village harbored untold stories from a bygone era when canal transportation played a vital role in the local economy. From its inception, the East Coventry Township Historical Commission developed a keen interest in revitalizing this historic treasure. When Exelon announced its plans to re-license the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant, the Township officials and Mr. Hosterman saw an opportunity to restore and preserve the village. The Township assigned members of its Board of Supervisors, the Historical Commission, and Solicitor Hosterman to attend all Stakeholder meetings with Exelon, Chester County, and the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area in order to broker an agreement to resuscitate the historic village.
After dozens of Stakeholders meetings and tense negotiations, Exelon agreed to invest nearly $3 million for historic restoration of the portion of Fricks Locks Village within the Exclusion Area Boundary (the “EAB”) which is comprised of all property within 2,500 feet of the reactors. The portion of the village beyond the EAB was “mothballed” and leased to the Township with an option to purchase. Recently, the Township exercised its option to purchase in order to initiate additional historic restoration and to develop a Fricks Locks Village Trailhead for the soon-to-be constructed Schuylkill River Trail.
The improvements for the Township-owned parcel will include adaptive re-use of a historic brick home for the East Coventry Township Historical Commission, public restroom facilities and on-site sewage disposal, a multi-purpose pavilion, parking facilities, and landscaping. In order to fund the improvements, the Township obtained a grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in the amount of $367,200 with matching funds from Chester County in the amount of $400,000.
The Township and Mr. Hosterman are proud of their on-going efforts to resurrect and preserve Fricks Locks Village. They look forward to future challenges to restore and revitalize additional parts of the village to be incorporated into a growing and viable trailhead and historical landmark. To learn more about Fricks Locks Village and view the Saturday tour schedule, visit the East Coventry Township website here.