New park coming to Tacony riverfront will add green space and wetland, keep fishing pier

Picnickers and hikers may soon join the fisherfolk at Lardner’s Point in Tacony.

Sometime this summer or early fall, construction will begin on a new, 4.5-acre park that will replace the current “cracked pavement and weeds” with greenery, wetlands, benches, picnic tables, solar lighting and composting restroom facility, said 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.

A lot of the river’s edge will be restored to a natural state, which will yield wildlife habitat. The small pier – the place where fishing happens – stays, Branigan said. It will receive some repair work.

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 week, 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. Last week, 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 has not gone out to bid yet, Branigan said, but it is expected to cost about $1.5 million. All of the money has been raised, but paperwork is now being done to reclaim some of it. About half came from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Branigan said. The original hope was to start construction last year. When that didn’t happen, the grant timed out, he said. But Branigan is confident it will be re-issued. 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. Many photos were taken by Fred Moore, an amateur photographer/historian who is also president of the Holmesburg Civic Association.

Reach the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com.

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