The pond in June.
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Story by Phoebe Hopkins.
District Township currently owns about 76 acres of parkland near the municipal building. Most of the land was once a hill farm, acquired in 1930 by the Philadelphia Nature Friends, a group of working class German immigrants who spent summer and weekend vacations there. They converted the barn into a dormitory and let most of the land revert to woodland.
The District Township Municipal Building is surrounded by the park.
The pond in Winter.
In the 1960s, the camp was sold to Leonard and Harriet Gordon, who donated the dormitory and surrounding 59 acres to District Township in 1979. The dormitory was converted into the Township Municipal Building, and nine acres adjacent to the building became used for parking and active recreation areas including a playground, volleyball court, tennis court, baseball field and picnic pavilion.
In 2006 the Township received matching funds from the Berks County Open Space and Recreational Program to produce a master plan for the Gordon Park Natural Area. Consultant Robert E. Bartmann, AICP, conducted extensive surveys of topographical and natural resources. He recommended a phased program for improving park lands and constructing trails.
The Township, in 2007 and 2008, undertook clean-up projects in the area. Boy Scouts assisted in the clearing of trails. Two Interpretive Nature Trails were designed by the Township Environmental Advisory Committee. The Pond Trail includes remnants of the old swimming hole of the Nature Friends Camp and the headwaters of the Oysterville Creek. The Spruce Trail is located in a plantation of evergreens planted by the Nature Friends on a former farm field.
Trail Guide Brochures are available at a box placed at the entrance to the township building. A large laminated map of Gordon park is displayed in the meeting room in the building.
An adjacent 17.5 acre woodland tract was purchased from a neighboring landowner in 2011 using matching funds from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This tract had been advertised as a building lot, but was very rocky and hard to develop. It adjoins the Pond Trail area.
The bridge in Winter.
The Stone Roll Creek is a Tributary
of Oysterville Creek.
In the future, the township may construct other passive trails in other areas of Gordon Park.
Like its previous owners, it is Nature's Friend.
District Township, at the crest of the Oley Hills, is home to the upper tributaries of the Manatawny, Pine and Oysterville Creeks, flowing west, and the West Branch of the Perkiomen Creek, flowing east. The pristine springs and seeps of its rocky woodlands produce water classified as Exceptional Value. These areas are essential to the quality of water downstream and everyone benefits from their preservation and protection.