Unpaved Paradise: Schuylkill River Park is being redesigned, starting with the entrance

story by liz pachecoThe former site of ’70s-era warehouses and an impound lot for towed cars, the Schuylkill River Park is now one of Southwest Center City’s largest green spaces. While the park boasts multiple fields, courts, a community garden and recreation center, time and frequent use have qualified this space for a makeover.

After commissioning a master plan in 2006, the Friends of the Schuylkill River Park (FSRP) brought in the Collaborative to focus on one portion of the park: the entrance at the corner of Taney and Pine Streets. Mostly paved surfaces, this gateway is plagued by crumbling concrete tables and chairs, cracked and buckled pavement, and a fountain sculpture with water circulation problems. The gateway also includes a poorly designed portico for the recreation center.

Published in February 2011, the conceptual design addresses functionality, aesthetics and stormwater management, touting features like rain gardens, porous surfaces, solar-powered lights and native plants. Now, FSRP is looking for funding and Sean O’Rourke, the group’s vice president, says they’re looking to those stakeholders who were involved in the conceptual design. “You know about this [project], you gave us all these great ideas,” reminds O’Rourke, “[now] how can you give us support?”