PlanPhilly staff report
Groundbreaking took place Monday on a new, 4.5-acre park at Lardner's Point in Tacony that will replace the current “cracked pavement and weeds” with greenery, wetlands, benches, picnic tables, solar lighting and composting restroom facility.
Tom Branigan, executive director of Delaware River City Corp., the non-profit organization that works to reconnect communities with the river along Philadelphia's northern Delaware River waterfront, says a lot of the river's edge will be restored to a natural state, which will yield wildlife habitat.
The work will include demolition and removal of concrete ramp structures and concrete and asphalt paving throughout the site. A river overlook and fishing pier at the river’s edge will be a part of the new park along with, riparian edge restoration, the creation of tidal wetlands, and the restoration of a riverbank forest area for picnicking and passive recreational activities. The park will be a gateway and trailhead for the Delaware River Heritage Trail and will be a link in the East Coast Greenway that runs from Maine to Florida. This trailhead will include a drinking fountain, walking trails, park and trail furniture and the necessary infrastructure to support these amenities.
The spot sits next to the Tacony-Palmyra bridge, and offers excellent views of the bridge and the Palmyra Cove Nature Park across the river.
Earlier this year, City Council's Rules Committee sent on to full council legislation that would change the zoning designation for the area bounded by Milnor, Levick and Robbins Streets and the Delaware River from C-3 commercial to recreational. The property is owned by the city water department. The legislation, proposed by Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, “will permit the proposed park uses while preserving the land from unwanted development,” William Kramer, director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission's division of development planning, told the committee. In February, PCPC gave the bill its support.
Plans for the park were developed by Baltimore's Biohabitats, the same landscape architecture firm that designed Washington Avenue Green in South Philadelphia. Just as Washington Avenue Green is part of a multi-purpose trail along the central portion of the Delaware, Lardner's Point Park is to serve as a trail head for the North Delaware Riverfront Greenway and Trail. The city hopes that eventually, the north and central portions of trail along the Delaware will connect – and be part of the East Coast Greenway, a trail that will run from Main to Florida.
Construction of the project is expected to cost about $1.5 million. All of the money has been raised with about half coming` from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Branigan said. Other funding sources include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Wildlife Fund.
The photos and illustrations published with this story are all courtesy of Delaware River City Corp.