READING, PA (Oct. 16, 2015) – Grants that are being awarded to map mountain biking trails, build a pump track in downtown Reading and create a mural corridor in West Reading are part of a larger theme developing in Berks County.

“We’re seeing the creation of a new narrative for our community,” said Kevin K. Murphy, Berks County Community Foundation president. “It’s not about outlets anymore, and it’s not about decay and deterioration as it has been for the last 25 or 30 years. It’s about twin emerging downtowns. West Reading and Reading are becoming vibrant places where people want to be.”

Murphy made the comments during a reception on Thursday at the Community Foundation to announce $12,000 in grants for the three urban revitalization projects. The grants are from the Greater Reading Young Professionals (GRYP) Community Engagement Fund of Berks County Community Foundation. Details about the projects:

West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation’s Cherry Street Mural Corridor, $2,500. The Cherry Street Mural Corridor is an outdoor art gallery intended to expose the widest audience possible to various styles and techniques of artistic expression and to attract creative people to the community.

ReDesign Reading CDC’s Reading Bike Hub Bicycle Pump Track, $5,630. The recreational pump track for city youth is planned on the site of a vacant, blighted lot at 920 Penn St.

Berks Area Mountain Biking Association’s Mount Penn Preserve Trail Mapping Project, Phase One, $3,870. The project is intended to enhance the Reading area as a mountain biking destination and promote beautiful urban trail systems to both local and out-of-town users.

Reading’s pump track will be modeled after one in Philadelphia.

“These projects represent a wide variety of efforts to improve and revitalize several areas within Greater Reading,” said Kristi Gage-Linderman, GRYP board president. “All of them are important to the continuing vitality of our community.”

The projects bolster the burgeoning bicycling scene in Berks County. The Greater Reading Trails System was recently designated a bronze-level ride center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). The system has more than 125 miles of trails that range in difficulty from beginner-friendly to some of the most technical, rock-strewn trails anywhere, according to IMBA. Berks County is also home to The Reading 120, an international cycling competition that is staking a claim as the greatest one-day road race in all of the Americas.

pumptrackgrant1

From left, Brian Kelly, executive director of ReDesign Reading, and Matt Shirk, a Reading Bike Hub volunteer, and other bike hub volunteers accept the grant for the pump track.

The grants also come at a time when events – such as the Downtown Alive free concert series and the annual Fire + Ice Fest (Jan. 15-17, 2016) – are bringing thousands of people downtown.

Murphy congratulated GRYP for annually awarding grants to address community needs. “This organization’s commitment shows the compassion that our young leaders have,” Murphy said.

The GRYP Fund was established to support the organization’s mission to attract, retain and engage young professionals in the area. The money is raised through GRYP’s annual gala, G!G!.

###

Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing and distributing funds to meet existing and emerging community needs. More information is available at www.bccf.org.