Borski Park Official Groundbreaking Announced for October 3
An official groundbreaking for the Robert A. Borski, Jr. Park on will take place on Tuesday, October 3 at 10 am, at Orthodox Street. and Delaware Avenue. The public is invited to attend and asked to register here.
Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Department of Streets, elected officials, and other special guests will gather with Riverfront North Partnership to celebrate the groundbreaking of this long-awaited park.
Representatives from Riverfront North Partnership will be present at the September 13 and October 11 BCCA meetings. You may also stop by Trail Talk Tuesdays with Riverfront North Partnership at I Knead Coffee on October 10, October 17, October 24, and October 31 from 12am-1:30pm.
Construction Contract Awarded for Borski Park
In August 2023, the contract was signed and awarded to JPC Group, Inc. to start construction of the Robert A. Borski Jr Park in Bridesburg. This is the last of the planned riverfront parks in Philadelphia.
This 10-acre park, conceived through a 2015 community engagement project will be a trailhead park along the 11-mile greenway. It will connect to the existing Port Richmond Trail to the south and in the future, to the K&T Trail via the planned Delaware Avenue Extension.
Phase 1 of the construction will allow for a park opening, and will include riverfront views, unstructured play areas, nature trails through an elevated meadow, parking and a restroom. It will also include a security gate and camera. Phase 2 will include a picnic pavilion, a stage, and a boardwalk along the shoreline.
Construction will begin in October 2023, with an anticipated completion of Phase 1 in early 2025.
Riverfront Park Officially Named Robert A. Borski, Jr. Park
There is a riverfront park coming to Bridesburg. Long delayed, much talked about and with an anticipated groundbreaking in fall 2023, opening to the public in spring 2025. This 10-acre park will be located on the Delaware River at Orthodox Street and Delaware Avenue.
This park, the last along the Delaware riverfront is part of an 11-mile greenway that was the vision of Congressman Bob Borski. Congressman Borski was born and remains deeply rooted in Northeast Philadelphia. Born in Harrowgate, educated at North Catholic and Frankford HS, Bob went onto serving Northeast Philadelphia, first as state representative and ultimately as US Congressman from 1983-2003.
During his time in Congress, he served on the Transportation Committee and had the opportunity to travel to other cities in the United States to experience their riverfronts. It sparked a desire to reconnect the Northeast Philadelphia community, which has long been disconnected by industry and the I-95 corridor, back to the Delaware River through an 11-mile greenway which begins at Allegheny Avenue and runs north to the Bucks County line at Glen Foerd.
Once retired from Congress, Bob launched a non-profit organization to do just that. First called the Delaware River City Corporation, now known as Riverfront North Partnership, it is a non-profit partner of the city of Philadelphia to reconnect the residents of Northeast Philadelphia to its riverfront that has been long restricted by public use. Under his leadership and efforts, Riverfront North Partnership has invested nearly $45 million in the design, construction, and restoration of river parks and trails, including a new K&T2 Trail segment that is expected to open in August 2023.
The new river park in Bridesburg will be the last of the eight planned parks on the greenway. It will join the greenway parks and trails as destinations for free outdoor recreation and natural green spaces. The 10-acre park will transform a former concrete factory into upland meadow, multi-purpose lawn area, and wonderful views of the river.
Congressman Borski has shown his commitment to the people of Northeast Philadelphia both as his time as an elected official and most recently through his steadfast vision, perseverance, and hard work to make this 11-mile greenway a reality.
It is in great appreciation that Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell has presented a City Ordinance that names the upcoming river park in Bridesburg the “Congressman Robert A. Borski Park” in honor of his vision and commitment to public access to the Delaware River.
Congressman Robert A. Borski Park, coming to the Delaware Riverfront in Spring 2025.
“Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” – English Proverb
This saying may be true and if so, we can be sure the Riverfront Park in Bridesburg is going to be really, really good. Because we’ve been waiting a very long time.
UPDATE MARCH 2023: Phase 1 Construction was advertised in January 2023 and the bids we received in February were 40% over our cost estimate. While we had anticipated significant cost escalation due to the volatility of construction costs, this far exceeded our expectations and funding.
RNP was forced to reject the bids and is in the process of value engineering the park for a new advertisement in summer 2023 and a fall/winter 2023 groundbreaking. If all goes well, the park will be open to the public by summer 2025.
Since the Bridesburg neighborhood has been cut off from its riverfront – the last public access being the pier at Bridge Street that was fenced off overnight in 1961, a new riverfront park in the neighborhood park had been planned and talked about.
The City of Philadelphia acquired the land in 2014 and soon community meetings began to see that the vision of the nearby neighbors was incorporated into the design. Riverfront North Partnership (RNP, then known as Delaware River City Corporation) helps to facilitate the design, community engagement, and now, construction of the new park.
RNP started fundraising for construction in 2017 and has been awarded nearly $6.7 million for construction from private, local, state, and federal sources, including PennDOT, which has experienced significant delays in its project pipeline due the pandemic. RNP and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation have been working hard behind the scenes for the last five years to meet our funders’ complex range of contractual requirements and move forward on the project.
RNP is the nonprofit partner to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, which will own and maintain the park. RNP will work with the community to steward and program the park when it opens. In the meantime, Gina Craigo, our community engagement manager, has worked for the last four years to build relationships and support neighborhood initiatives.
Looking back to 2014, we are so much closer to the finish line of opening a riverfront park in Bridesburg. A park that will bring natural meadows with walking trails, an open lawn for frisbee or kite flying, and sweeping views of the Delaware River. We have already seen beaver, fox, and deer in the meadow, and we look forward to increasing the health of their environment through native plantings.
Progress is being made. With your help, we have established the groundwork for a public park that is cared for by its community:
- An Advisory Committee of five neighbors are guiding us as we think about the best uses for the new park.
- We set up a temporary play space at the Rec Center, reminding everyone there IS a river close by and that we’ll soon be taking you to it.
- We’ve funded community ideas to make Bridesburg and even better place – with fitness classes, learn to compost workshop, more trashcans for Richmond Street, sponsorship of Bridesburg events such as the 5K and the Bri Tri.
And there’s lots more fun planned for the upcoming season:
- We’ll be hanging out at I Knead Coffee for Trail Talk Tuesdays during the month of April to answer any questions you might have.
- We’re bringing back the Patriotic House Decorating Contest because Bridesburg really shows up with its patriotism.
- We are looking for new programming ideas from the community through our mini-grants.
- We are looking to grow our Advisory Committee with more members.
How does this relate to the Coke site development?
We have received several questions about how the new park relates to the warehouse development on the former Coke site. The park is still owned by the City of Philadelphia and will remain so. It is directly on the riverfront and is separated from the Coke site by a truck repair shop currently, and eventually the planned Delaware Avenue Extension along the old rail lines.
Bridesburg, thank you for your patience and for consistently showing up and caring about your neighborhood. We can’t wait to be kicking back with you at the riverfront!
A new park is coming soon to the Bridesburg Riverfront.
A meeting was held on Monday, January 23, at the Bridesburg Rec to update about the status of the new riverfront park coming to Bridesburg. Convened by Councilmember Mike Driscoll and with Rep. Joe Hohenstein, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR), the board and staff at Riverfront North Partnership (RNP) shared the good news that Phase 1 Construction of the long-awaited park will break ground in May 2023.
This 10-acre riverfront park will be located at the end of Orthodox Street. Phase 1 Construction is fully funded and includes a multi-purpose lawn, elevated meadow with nature trails, restrooms, and parking for 40 cars. Security measures include a yellow swing gate and a camera in the parking area. The park will be open from dusk to dawn by PPR Park Rangers.
Fundraising for Phase 2 Construction is underway and the park will eventually include additional amenities like a picnic pavilion, stage pavilion, boardwalk overlook, and terraced lawn seating.
Phase 1 Construction is undergoing two separate bidding processes. The majority of the project is already out for bid through PennDOT and expected to complete in February 2023. It will include everything in Phase 1 Construction except for the bathroom and a portion of the landscaping.
The second bid package will be finalized by May 2023 and will include the restroom and part of the landscaping at a minimum. Because of the volatility of construction costs, the package will not be finalized until the first bid estimates are received. There is a possibility that this bid could include the picnic pavilion or terraced lawn seating slated for Phase 2 Construction, depending on how much construction costs have risen.
Phase 1 Construction will begin in May 2023 and is estimated to take 18 months, ending around December 2024.
The current Advisory Committee – Fred Becker, Rosemarie Conry, Cathie Polakowski, Yvonne Stephens and Adam Visconto – was thanked for their ongoing support and counsel to this project. Community input on the activation of the park is important to its success as it should be reflective of the communities interests, and because activated, well-used spaces make for safe parks. As the park gets closer to construction, the Advisory Committee will grow into an official Park Friends group through the Fairmount Park Conservancy and more community members will be sought to grow this group.
Community members asked about dirt bike/ATV usage and illegal dumping on the trails. These are concerns shared by Riverfront North, which has been working with elected officials, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and City stakeholders to amplify the concerns. It was suggested that community members bring them to the police and attend the PDAC meetings. Bridesburg is located in PDAC 1 for the 15th Police District and the next meeting is this Thursday, January 26, at St Marks on Frankford Avenue.
Stephanie Phillips, RNP Executive Director shared that a Master Site Plan for the Frankford Boat Launch has just been funded and is expected to begin in summer 2023. This will allow a deeper exploration of security, access, and appropriate use of that park and will include significant community input and engagement.
For specific questions or additional information, feel free to contact Gina Craigo, Community Engagement Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-962-8726.
Thank you to all who participated in the virtual community meeting regarding park updates on 2/17/21. We appreciate your feedback and hope we were able to answer your questions. Below is a link to a video of that 2021 meeting if you weren’t able to make it to join us. If you have questions regarding the park construction, please feel free to email email@example.com.
SEE THE VIDEO BELOW (or here on our vimeo page)
Bridesburg Impact Grants (BIG)
Thanks to the generous support of the William Penn Foundation, RNP has launched Bridesburg Impact Grants (BIG) to bring your ideas to life within the Bridesburg community – and ultimately the new park. These $500 grants are designed to spread the word about all the great things that this neighborhood offers to the people who live here.
Find out how to apply and what ongoing projects are being funded by visiting our BIG page.
Bridesburg ‘River Ways’ Story Series
Travel back in time to the Bridesburg of yesteryear. “Bridesburg River Ways” is a new story series from Philadelphia artist Aislinn Penecost-Farren about Bridesburg and life along the river. The river wards neighborhoods along Riverfront North have a long and rich history with the Delaware River, these are stories of their connections.