Olde Richmond Civic Association moves forward with plans for Moyer Street Park
By Melissa Komar
Mike McCullough is visibly excited when he talks about Moyer Street Park, despite the stretch of land between Planet Fitness and CVS Pharmacy being little more than patches of weeds, partially unearthed railroad tracks and disheveled cobblestones.
The Olde Richmond Civic Association vice president sees something different.
Looking down the 2300 block of Moyer Street from the intersection of Aramingo Avenue and York Street, McCullough sees a fenced-in dog run carpeted by truck loads of mulch. To the left of the rails, there’s a fresh blacktop surface with a stone retaining wall with tiered planting beds. The Belgian blocks have been reset and form a clear-cut pathway between the wall and the dog run.
There are light fixtures similar to those installed on Richmond Street as part of the I-95 Revive project.
Kids are playing and there’s a sculpture garden composed of machinery from the shuttered Cramp Shipyard warehouse that was razed months ago to make way for the new Girard off-ramp exit.
And, if it’s a weekend, there may be a flea market or farmer’s market taking place on the blacktop space in front of Planet Fitness or a community dog show, with the River Wards four-legged friends strutting their stuff.
The vision came to life in 2013 when McCullough visited the site with fellow ORCA member Phil Stoltzfus.
“We really just wanted to get something special there,” McCullough said. “It looks terrible. We’ve collected needles and people just dump their trash. The intersection of that green, community space would make that intersection feel safer.”
While the initial idea may have focused on the dog run, the vision has morphed to encompass “a community space to use for whatever you want.”
McCullough pointed to the Schuylkill River Park Dog Run and the Reading Viaduct Rail Park as some of his inspirations.
“I am in total admiration of those projects,” he said. “This isn’t the highline of New York, but we’re trying to mimic those spaces on a smaller scale.”
But, first, the street must be blocked off.
ORCA, supported by the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, held open houses for the community in March 2016 to solicit feedback from residents for the space.
McCormick Taylor conducted an assessment of the site and provided street conceptual improvements for Moyer Street.
With the closing of nearby Triangle Dog Park in May 2018, where McCullough, his wife, Marcella, and their 2-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Fozzy, frequently play, McCullough kicked the project into gear again.
ORCA hosted a public meeting at the space on May 31.
Last week, MCullough created a Facebook page for the project and launched a Go Fund Me campaign to cover the costs of the first phase of the project: installing retractable bollards and fencing, indicating the street is not open to vehicular traffic.
OTIS has submitted a request to close the street as part of the city’s Pedestrian Plaza Program, which allows for the conversion of underused roadways into community-supported public places.
The agreement would need to be reviewed on a year-to-year basis, according to McCullough.
McCullough hopes for the first phase to be complete by late fall or early winter.
And while bringing Moyer Street Park to life will not happen overnight, McCullough is dreaming big in the meantime.
In addition to the improvements already planned, he would love to see a stage added to create a natural amphitheater and a black and white mural with detailed historical graphics on the wall of CVS Pharmacy, that depicts a bird’s eye view of the old railyard that previously stretched to the Delaware River.
“We really want to make it a sustainable place people want to be part of,” McCullough said. “We want to shoot for the stars because it’s the gateway to the community,” he said.
To donate to the Moyer Street Park project, visit Moyer Street Park on Facebook.