Berks County Parks & Recreation Department recently unveiled a monument in honor of William W. Semmel’s work with the parks. Bill Semmel was the Director of the Berks County Parks & Recreation Department from 1968-2009. The monument is located outside the barn at Grings Mill.
Through Semmel’s leadership and vision, along with the support of the Parks & Recreation Boards and the County Commissioners, Berks County has one of the most diversified Park systems in Pennsylvania, encompassing passive and active recreation needs, as well as the preservation and interpretation of historic features in the parks.
During the development of the parks system Bill oversaw all of the renovation projects required to make the buildings that existed here usable while preserving their historic integrity. As Parks and Recreation Director, Semmel completed the restoration of the Gring House and barn at Gring’s Mill, the restoration of Lock #47 along the Union Canal Towpath, relocation of the Deppen Cemetery, the relocation and restoration of the Gruber Wagon works, rehabilitation and of the Reeser Farmhouse at the BCHC, restoration of the Houseboat Mildred, design of the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center, restoration of the Leesport Lock House and the Allegheny Aqueduct and Beidler House in Gibraltar.
Bill has been actively involved with the Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Society since joining in 1968. Semmel is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, and served on the Executive Board of the Parks Resources Branch for many years.
Semmel is a past President of the Berks County Museum Council, served on Board of Directors of the Schuylkill River Greenway Association from its beginning to the mid-1990s. He was a member of the Berks County Sports Commission, currently serves as the County liason to the Berks County Open Space and Recreation Advisory Committee and is a member of the Spring Township Greenway and Trails Committee.