Lardner’s Point Park: From a Vision to Reality

Lardner’s Point Park is the poster child of how PEC enhances the environment through our partnerships and vision.

That vision is being rewarded on Saturday at 11 a.m. as the park will be receiving the Green Parks Award—along with a plaque and tree planting ceremony—for its sustainable design and for connecting people to natural resources.

It is a jewel of a park located in the Tacony area of Philadelphia. Located on the Delaware River, it reflects PEC’s motto of Conservation through Cooperation. It exists because of PEC, but it wasn’t built by PEC, nor is it owned by PEC.

Patrick Starr photo new 2
Patrick Starr

Credit is due to the Delaware River City Corporation, chaired by former Congressman Bob Borski (I am a founding board member) for building it. Credit is also owed to the City of Philadelphia, Department of Parks and Recreation (which owns and maintains it), as well as to PA DCNR, among other sources that funded it.

Today it stands as a beautiful “natural” park, consisting primarily of meadows and riverbanks with spectacular views of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. It is now a model of sustainable park design that incorporates passive recreation features and habitat restoration.

When I first saw it, what is now Lardner’s Point Park was a derelict brownfield site overgrown with invasive non-native plants (I used to collect bittersweet there). PEC entered in the late ‘90s, facilitating planning for the “North” Delaware greenway that proposed a riverfront trail and new parks for public access and recreation. With funds raised by PEC from DCNR and the City of Philadelphia, the new greenway master plan debuted in 2005.

PEC had already moved the ball by facilitating the transfer of the site from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to the Fairmount Park, as well as the negotiation of the transaction between ConRail and the City of Philadelphia to transfer the K&T railroad. Additionally, the area had to go through an Act 2 remediation process and have an underground storage tank removed.

A portion of the trail would use an abandoned redundant rail line—the Kensington & Tacony—that bisected Lardner’s, which had at one time served as a ferry terminal. It was clear that the park was a perfect trailhead for the proposed riverfront trail situated mid-way on the corridor with visibility and street connections.

Then the fun began to plan the new park and for numerous practical and ideological reasons, we envisioned Lardner’s as setting a new standard for 21st century park design.

PEC hired a design firm, Biohabitats to create the plan.

  • There would be minimal mowed turf (geese love it) – more maintenance
  • Features of the site would be re-used and adapted for the park purpose
  • The pier was adapted as a fishing pier
  • Concrete surfaces were reused as a wave slowing toe-wall
  • Solar panels would sustain lighting, reducing costs
  • A composting toilet would reduce costs and avoid an expensive sewer connection
  • The riverbank itself would be restored and tidal wetland vegetation restored
  • A small stormwater-fed wetland would be enhanced.

In the end, it all came to fruition after more than a decade of hard work, and PEC definitely helped make it happen! I am now in my 23rd year at PEC, and in my opinion, Lardner’s Point Park is one of the great achievements of my career.