A playground, a park, and a schoolyard are getting greener, thanks to the efforts of their nonprofit champions— and a little help from the Community Design Collaborative. Here's the dirt on the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be invested in Weccacoe Playground, Schuylkill River Park, and Nebinger Elementary School.
Friends of Weccacoe Playground has received $535,000 from the City of Philadelphia for stormwater management savvy renovations. Known as “Broken-Glass Park” in the ‘90s, Weccacoe Park benefited from basic improvements in 2001 and a decade of neighborhood involvement. Today the park is flush with families and friends, but its decade-old upgrades are worn and don’t contribute much to the city’s sustainability.
Friends of Weccacoe Playground, a committee of Queen Village Neighbors Association, and the Collaborative envisioned a “park-like playground" enhanced by a water spray area, a back-to-nature obstacle course, and 20 new trees. Green stormwater infrastructure, including a rain garden and a Natural Surface Zone , are part of planned renovations.
Says Walt Lowthian, head of the Friends group, “If it had not been for the [Collaborative], we’d still be at the wishing stage without a clear picture of the wish.”
Friends of Schuylkill River Park recently reported that the park received $110,000 in funding from the City of Philadelphia for its outdoor courtyard. The courtyard is the main entrance of this well-loved, well-used park and playground and a popular place for both organized and impromptu fun. The courtyard was a focus of a Collaborative project completed in 2011.
The funding will be used primarily to develop and document the design, says Sean O'Rourke, Vice President of the Friends group. When the project is realized, he notes, it "will bring the park-like atmosphere out to the curb." But the benefits of working with the Collaborative weren't limited to the conceptual design, "[The Collaborative]... provided three-dimensional images that could be used to present and talk about [the park] to a range of community and public folks. And most importantly, it provided a legitimacy that got all the initial stakeholders around the table for... a vision that included the entire community."
Finally, George W. Nebinger Elementary School has been awarded $400,000 to green its schoolyard. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Partnership for Delaware Estuary presented a grant of $145,000 to the school on April 26. The balance of the project funding was provided through a joint initiative of the Brazilian Ministry and the City of Philadelphia to support urban sustainability. Said EPA's Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin, "What the City of Philadelphia is doing is amazing... [EPA] wants to put projects on the ground that will educate the public."
The school, located in South Philadelphia at 6th and Carpenter Streets, currently offers its students a perfunctory play area of asphalt and chain link fencing. The funding will go towards a rain garden, permeable play surfaces, a green street demonstration project, and an environmental education program at the school.
KUDOS TO OUR NONPROFIT PARTNERS AND VOLUNTEERS!
Weccacoe Playground: Conceptual Plan for Revitalization Prepared for Friends of Weccacoe Playground and Queen Village Neighbors Association Volunteer Team: Austin + Mergold LLC: Jason Austin, Sally Reynolds, Kelly Tigera, Anne Dinh, Jessica Brown Gardner/Fox Associates: Joanna Baker, Pat Baker
Schuylkill River Park: Conceptual Design for Gateway Improvements Prepared for Friends of Schuylkill River Park Volunteer Team: Ari Miller, Jay DeFelicis, Allen Guenthner, Daniel Stanislaw, Clifford Schwinger International Consultants, Inc. Lou Johnson
George W. Nebinger Elementary School: Conceptual Master Plan for Open Space Prepared for George W. Nebinger Elementary School and the Bella Vista Town Watch Volunteer Team: Studio Gaea, LLC: Kimberlee Douglas, Alexandra Zahn Elwell Studio: Jason Elwell Nicole Hostettler Torcon, Inc.: Anthony Armento, Angela Cirino