Something to celebrate

Riverfront North announces $1.4 million grant awarded for Bridesburg park, funding for Phase One construction complete.

Next step: Fundraising for Phase One of the Bridesburg riverfront park is now complete, with construction anticipated to finish by 2022. COURTESY OF RIVERFRONT NORTH PARTNERSHIP

The Bridesburg community is one step closer to gaining long-awaited access to the Delaware River.

A $1.4 million-step, to be exact.

Riverfront North Partnership announced Tuesday it was awarded $1.4 million from the state Department of Transportation Multimodal Transportation Fund.

The award caps off the funding needed to complete Phase One of a 10-acre park to be located at Orthodox Street and Delaware Avenue.

“Myself and Rep. Joe Hohenstein are proud that we could help obtain this crucial state funding for the development of Bridesburg Riverfront Park” said state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. “The people at Riverfront North Partnership should be commended for their unique vision to improve Philadelphia along the Delaware River, and we are happy to continue working with them in this endeavor.  Bridesburg Riverfront Park is going to be something special.” 

“Bridesburg Riverfront Park will be a beautiful space to explore in the district, and it’s great to see funding come to the area to help make possible,” Hohenstein added. “It will provide a transformative connection for our community to the river that we have gone without for too long. I’m always in support of projects that help get people outside to enjoy the riverfront.” 

The project previously received a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in November 2019 and a $2 million grant from the William Penn Foundation in February 2019.

Additional funding was provided by the City of Philadelphia, PA Department of Community and Economic Development and The McLean Contributionship.

The final design phase for the project was announced in November 2017 after a community engagement initiative commenced in 2015 led by Riverfront North, which was then known as the Delaware River City Corporation.

The parcel became available in 2014 thanks to a land swap deal among Dietz and Watson, PIDC and the city, backed by City Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.).

Taking parcels like the one in Bridesburg to restore access to the Delaware River for communities that have been denied it for decades is the underlying mission of Riverfront North.

“Riverfront North is committed to connecting people back to their river,” said Stephanie Phillips, executive director. “If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that our parks are an integral part of our physical and mental wellbeing.”

The park will be completed in two phases, with an additional $5 million needed for the second phase.

The park will be accessible upon completion of the first phase, which will feature a park with riverfront views, unstructured play areas, parking and a restroom.

Phase One will tentatively wrap up in 2022.

The second phase will feature a stage pavilion, picnic pavilion, terraced lawn seating and a river boardwalk.

Construction for Phase Two is tentatively planned for 2026.

The construction of the park will be managed by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the City of Philadelphia in partnership with Riverfront North Partnership. 

When finished, the Bridesburg riverfront park will join several other parks, including Pulaski Park in Port Richmond, Lardner’s Point Park in Tacony and Pleasant Hill Park in Northeast Philly along a planned 11-mile section of trails known as the Greenway.

The Greenway is the brainchild of Bob Borski, founder of the former DRCC and a former congressman.

“We have been working tirelessly to build this park for a long time now, and through the hard work and dedication of a lot of different entities, the funding has come together to make it a reality for the community” said Borski, who is chairman of the Riverfront North Partnership Board. “Our organization was founded with a vision of connecting folks along the North Delaware back to the underutilized and formerly inaccessible riverfront areas. This Riverfront Park in Bridesburg is a perfect example of how, by reclaiming these spaces and redeveloping them for public use, we can achieve that mission.” 

And, while residents will have to wait a bit longer to actually use the park, the funding is certainly something to celebrate.

“Bridesburg has been waiting for this park for decades, and I’m so happy that it is finally happening,” said funeral home director and lifelong Bridesburg resident Joe Slabinski. “I’m breaking open a bottle of champagne in celebration!” ••

For updates on the Bridesburg riverfront park and other Riverfront North initiatives, visit riverfrontnorth.org.