Lardner’s Point Park to receive restoration funding

Lardner’s Point Park has been announced as a recipient of over $500,000 in construction funding as part of the Athos Oil Spill mitigation project. Over the past four years the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has worked to publish a Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan that includes Lardner’s as one of nine projects to be funded to mitigate the damage when an oil tanker, the Athos 1, struck a large submerged anchor in November of 2004 and spilled more than 263,000 gallons of oil in the Delaware River near Paulsboro, N.J.

The park is located on the Delaware riverfront in northeast Philadelphia at the end of Levick Street near the base of the Tacony Palmyra Bridge. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council began plans for the park as part of the North Delaware Greenway project in 2004 and raised partial funding for the construction of the park in 2006. The Council helped form the nonprofit Delaware River City Corporation (DRCC) to implement the greenway plan, and PEC Sr. VP Patrick Starr currently sits on the Board of Directors. DRCC has raised an additional $125,000 for park construction as well as coordinated the submission to NOAA for the Athos Oil Spill mitigation project.

Sarah Thorp, Executive Director of the Delaware River City Corporation, said “PEC was approached by NOAA in 2006 to help identify sites along the riverfront that could possibly qualify for inclusion in the mitigation plan, and provided the necessary information for Lardner’s Point to be included in the initial screening of over 61 projects for possible funding. Through the continued efforts of DRCC over the past 18 months, Lardner’s Point made it through the competitive selection process that narrowed potential projects from 61 to the 9 that were eventually chosen.”

The park plans include walking trails, a fishing pier, restroom and parking facilities, interpretive signage, and extensive shoreline restoration, wetland construction, and planting of numerous types of native plants and trees that will provide habitat for various types of wildlife and birds. Specifically, the Athos mitigation project will provide funding for the shoreline restoration and wetland to include removal of concrete bulkheads, re-grading the shoreline to a more natural slope, and installing a tidal wetland on 571 feet of shoreline.

The restoration of the shoreline at Lardner’s Point is an important project in Philadelphia because it will act as a pilot project for removal of bulkheads and wetland construction in a highly urbanized setting. Most of the Delaware riverfront in Philadelphia has been drastically disturbed and degraded by almost 300 years of industry and development. Lardner’s Point is a perfect example of the city taking the initiative to clean up its industrial shoreline, restore public access, and create more natural habitat in a location that will serve the adjacent densely-populated neighborhoods.

Construction of the park is expected to begin in May of 2009, and is being coordinated jointly by the Delaware River City Corporation and the Fairmount Park Commission. When completed, the park will be the 64th park in the Fairmount Park system, and one of only a handful of parks on the Delaware Riverfront.