Northeast Times

Opening day for Lardner's Point Park

— The park is the first of what is ex­pec­ted to be many along the North Delaware.

The Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion holds a grand open­ing cel­eb­ra­tion of Lar­den­er’s Point Park, Monday, May 14, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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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.” ••

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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