Northeast Philadelphia has a new point of pride as Lardner’s Point Park opened last week along the Delaware River.
The 4.5-acre park is located just south of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, between Robbins Avenue and Levick Street.
The grounds where the park was built were once littered with trash, broken glass and construction debris.
Today, there’s a trail for walking and biking; a refurbished fishing pier; benches and picnic tables; a large patio; solar-powered lights; trees, shrubs and plants; water fountains; a bicycle rack; trash receptacles; and parking.
“It shows what we can do all along the North Delaware,” said U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.). “I expect this to be the first of many parks along the North Delaware.”
The Delaware River City Corporation and its executive director, Tom Branigan, oversaw the $1.5 million project. The work was done by Seravalli Contractors Inc.
More than half of the funding came from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Another large chunk 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.
Other contributors included the city, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Garden Club of America and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Schwartz successfully lobbied the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center to release $643,271 for the project so the DRCC wouldn’t lose the state funding needed to complete the project.
The park opened, appropriately, during Love Your Park Week, a joint venture of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the city Department of Parks and Recreation.
“This is a very, very special day,” said Bob Borski, a former congressman and chairman of the DRCC, a non-profit organization formed in 2004.
Borski’s group is making things happen while private development along the North Delaware River waterfront remains stalled because of economic conditions.
The park entrance is at Levick and Milnor streets. The park is just east of the Philadelphia Water Department’s historic Lardner’s Point Water Pumping Station, which was built in 1906.
In all, there is a planned 11-mile trail from Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond to the Bucks County line.
Work will begin later this year on the 1.6-mile K&T Trail, which will extend north to Princeton Avenue.
“In a year or so, we’ll be back, and this park will be the jewel of the K&T Trail,” said Borski, who cut the ribbon on the new park on the fishing pier.
The May 14 grand opening featured appearances by Mayor Michael Nutter; state Rep. Mike McGeehan (D-173rd dist.); state Sen. Mike Stack (D-5th dist.); City Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.); Mike DiBerardinis, commissioner of the city parks and recreation department and former secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; John Giordano, deputy secretary of DCNR; and John Comegno, chairman of the Burlington County Bridge Commission.
The Mummers entertained, and guests enjoyed cake, coffee, water and soft pretzels.
“This is spectacular for Philadelphia. I love what’s going on up here. It shows what can happen when we all work together,” Nutter said before excusing himself to join singer Jay-Z at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the announcement of a Labor Day weekend concert.
McGeehan said it’s important to have Philadelphians, such as DiBerardinis, in important positions at the state level so the city gets its fair share. He credited Borski with helping to transform the river from the city’s back door to its front door.
Henon, who lives in East Torresdale, called the park “gorgeous” and said he plans to bring his wife and two sons to visit.
Stack was especially pleased because he’s seen how hard it is to complete meaningful projects. Philadelphia is starting to join other cities that make good use of their rivers.
“It’s a great day,” he said. “It’s going to be the best river on the Eastern seaboard and in the whole United States.” ••EndFragment