SUNBURY - City councilman Jim Eister looks over the wall at the riverfront and sees more than just the Susquehanna River.

He sees bulldozers, construction workers and materials that are transforming the shoreline into a recreational area that will connect other elements of local recreation, including the Shikellamy State Park Marina.

"We are moving along nicely," Eister said earlier this month. "The weather has been cooperating, and we hope to have it all done by the end of May."

Eister said an amphitheater will be the focus of the six-year, $11 million Sunbury Riverfront Park project.

"Imagine sitting here and listening to some music on a summer's night, or just relaxing and watching boats go by, or just the scenery in reflection," he said. "That's what we want to establish here."

Work done on the Front Street side of the wall was enjoyed last summer during the annual Sunbury River Festival. The festival is headed for its 11th and biggest year this August, Eister said.

"We will have the amphitheater ready, and people can come on this other side of the wall," he said, to "appreciate this beautiful resource we've been given."

A trail for walkers, joggers and bike riders is under construction on the river side of the flood wall, allowing city residents and others to better experience the river.

On this day, crews continued to work on an other new feature, a fishing pier.

"As long as the weather is still cooperating, we should have it done for everyone to enjoy in June," Eister said.

Six miles of recreation

Through the walking trail program and the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the idea is to connect Shikellamy State Park to Jack Treese Park in Shamokin Dam and to the fish ladder to be built at the Adam T. Bower Memorial Fabridam, a distance of six miles.

Tom Grebnick, director of the Community Resource Center at SEDA-COG, Lewisburg, and a consultant on the project, says it will bring Sunbury and Shamokin Dam together.

"It puts forth the idea for a gateway community," Grebnick said in a November News-Item article, explaining the plan is for "smart transportation," a term PennDOT uses to describe a linking transportation planning with economic development and environmental land use.

Eister thinks a calm winter will make for a relaxing, beautiful summer at the new riverfront.

"Things are still on schedule," Eister said Wednesday. "The crews put new decking on the old Bainbridge pier (part of the trail) and, on Monday, we will be putting a fresh topcoat on the walking trail on the riverfront."

The gangplanks at the marina were removed, so a new dock system there is on its way, he said.

'Sky's the limit'

Looking out at the river, Eister offered more imagination about events - and about spectators coming from far and wide to see them.

"Can you just imagine seeing a speed or drag boat race being held here, or a rowing regatta?" he asked. "The sky's the limit."