Private development along the North Delaware River waterfront remains stalled because of economic conditions, but the Delaware River City Corporation continues to make progress.
The DRCC last week broke ground on a $1.5 million project to create a riverfront park on 4.5 acres immediately south of the Tacony Palmyra Bridge.
The park is just east of the Philadelphia Water Department’s historic Lardner’s Point Water Pumping Station, at Milnor and Levick streets. It was built in 1906.
More than half of the money will come from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Other contributors include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the city of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Garden Club of America.
In addition, $416,000 came from claims that followed the spilling of 265,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River by the Athos I tanker in 2004.
“Good things come to those who wait,” said Bob Borski, a former congressman and chairman of the DRCC, a non-profit organization formed in ‘04.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz last year helped preserve the project’s state funding when she successfully lobbied the National Pollution Funds Center to release money for the park.
Tom Branigan, executive director of the DRCC, explained that Lardner’s Point Park will extend from Levick Street to Robbins Street. He believes the park will be an important part of a planned 11-mile trail from Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond to the Bucks County line.
The park will include an asphalt walking trail loop and a rehabilitated river outlook and fishing pier with a stainless steel railing. There will be a water fountain, furniture, interpretive signage, solar lighting and an area for picnicking and passive recreational activities.
Parking will be available and new trees will be planted. “It will create a habitat for birds,” Branigan said.
Work should be completed by the end of April. Seravalli Contractors Inc. is performing the work.
John Giordano, a Philadelphian and deputy secretary of the DCNR, represented Gov. Tom Corbett and Secretary Richard J. Allan. He is excited about the park being along what he calls “the rapidly rebounding Delaware River.”
“Its rebound draws the boater and angler. Its shores are appealing to the hiker and biker,” he said.
Others at the Nov. 21 groundbreaking included state Rep. John Taylor, Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mike DiBerardinis and City Councilman-elect Bobby Henon.
Taylor recalls growing up near B Street and Allegheny Avenue and being able to head east to access the Delaware River. He’s glad that the public will soon be able to access the new park.
“It’s a great, important project,” he said.
Henon described the river as a “hidden jewel.”
DiBerardinis, former secretary of the DCNR, believes the city can begin to redefine itself by adding park acreage to replace idle industrial infrastructure.
The parks and recreation commissioner said the city supports projects that improve communities, In this case, he believes Lardner’s Point Park will enhance the Tacony/Wissinoming area.
“This works for the neighborhood,” he said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org