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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Plans for Columbus Square’s eventual redesign inch forward

The board of the Columbus Square Park Advisory Council, along with a task force and representatives from the city Parks and Rec Department, have met twice with designers to go over possibilities of what the park may become and further refine the plans. As we told you in March, the park’s council was awarded a grant to for design services by the Community Design Collaborative.

Inviting, no?

It’s still a long way off from finalizing a design, but one thing’s certain. The redesigned park, bounded by 12th, 13th, Reed and Wharton streets, will include a playing field. The field will likely be somewhat smaller than the current field  to allow for more discretionary space for community use, but that’s currently being negotiated.

But there’s already much to agree on, said Ilene Wilder, who’s in charge of the advisory council. Here’s what the majority of the community said they would like to see at Columbus Square Park,  which is often mistakenly called Passyunk Square, and will likely happen:

  • An expansion of the big-dog park and addition of a slightly larger small-dog park. The surface will be updated, ideally with the anti-microbial, synthetic “K-9 grass” like they have in Schuylkill River Park near 25th and Locust.
  • The perimeter greening will remain.
  • Remodeling the patio area along 13th Street and adding seating around park
  • A refurbished, one-piece playground surface  in the tot lot to replace the tiles, which are coming loose and creating a safety issue for the  kids.
  • Shade veils for the playground are being considered, along with a remodeled water feature that includes a timer (Now, it runs all day, and only when someone from the city turns it on from the inside of the rec center)
  • The Roundhouse, the crumbling circular building next to the dog park, is being studied. Whether it becomes a concession stand, an art center or gets torn down depends on cost (there are other possibilities as well)

Wilder estimated that the design talks were 85 percent complete and that the Community Design Collaborative hopes to have it settled by October.

The design proposals took into consideration the input from about 100 emails from members of the community who all weighed in about what they wanted to see in these improvements. We know that when we posited that the park should become a Rittenhouse Square south, several readers came out of the woodwork in the comments to say in the comments that the playing field must absolutely stay.

After the design is finalized, the next step would be to raise the money. Wilder said it was too early to know what the budget will be but that there is interest in investing in the project from various sources. Fundraising would take about a year, which means the timeline for this project could be about three years.

So, how’s this sound? Is it what you want?




17 Responses to Plans for Columbus Square’s eventual redesign inch forward

  1. james August 21, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    What is that roundhouse anyway? Or, since it hasn’t been used for anything that I can tell since I don’t know when, maybe my question should be what was it?

    • banana_lover August 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      The roundhouse was a gym, at one point. It still contains old weight lifting equipment, but the inside needs a lot of work. It was used as a storage space when the old rec center was torn down and the new one was being built. Ever since then, it hasn’t seen much use.

  2. passyunk mo August 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    a reduced ball field with an enlarged perimeter for the neighborhood to enjoy will be a great addition to passyunk square. the ’round house’ would make a great space for art, meetings, ect as well. an upgraded dog run would be a tremendous added value for my 2 “kids”. the few times that i have sat on the 13th street side of the park where the benches are is sad. if the renovations aren’t going to take place for a few years is it possible to clean up and do something with that side until then? regular upkeep and some paint on the benches would be nice also. if that side, which for now is the only place to sit and enjoy the trees and gardens were to be taken care of the adults and children in the neighborhood would be better served . the last time i was enjoying that side of the park there were some young men “smoking” something that reminded me of my youth. a good cleaning and care for that side would entice parents and the like to utilize the space more. is there a volunteer program i can sign up for? me and my partner would love to pitch in and do our part for this amazing green space.

  3. Phil August 21, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    I was passing Dickinson Square today, and after seeing a number of people walking through it, some sitting on benches, a man shooting hoops, and a sign for their weekly farmers market, I realized what Dickinson Square is/could be: the center of the neighborhood. A green space for a number of activities – sports, leisure, art, food, etc. – to take place, thus giving the area something to bind it together. A town hall, so to speak.
    I live in East Passyunk Crossing, and Columbus Square Park is the closest park to me. I took my son for a walk today, and on my way back I detoured to CSP to see if anything was going on. People were waking their dogs, the dog park was busy, and a few kids played in the playground. But it was kinda dead. On a fairly nice afternoon. While I think it’s important to have fields so that neighborhood kids can compete locally, EPX and Passyunk Sq need a communal green space, a place to hold farmers markets (the fountain is just not enough space), take a walk, sit on a bench and read, take a class, attend a meeting, etc and etc. I’d hate to see a great opportunity like this grant come along and CSP’s potential be left unreached bc of a lack of imagination.

  4. Dara Daraz August 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    The main thing im looking forward to above anything is to get rid of Jungleland out there..all that mess of big overwhelming shrubs, trees plants..and buckets of plants..and make it toned down and attractive with small shrubs or plants..i hate to imagine the money that was wasted on all a huge eyesore and dangerous to those that have to walk through there at night and some extra lighting would be wonderful as well as when it gets icy around the block of the square they buy some equipment to remove snow and you dont break your neck walking from the bus stop on 12th street.. and those humongous hoes they dug for drainage i imagine are ugly as hell..

    • Dara Daraz August 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      thats holes not hoes by the

  5. WB August 23, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    Wish we could mimic Dickinson Square, that park is now beautiful and busy. A real sense of community.

  6. LAM August 23, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    I would like to see the park renamed Passyunk Square. That
    is the park’s original name. I don’t know when or why the park’s
    name was changed to Columbus Square but I don’t think the current
    name is appropriate given that our neighborhood is called Passyunk

  7. Dee August 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Just wanted to say today it hit me in looking at the beautiful area around the front of what was St. Anges to how you can make something look classy..maybe not as rich as that but the small shubs and plants they have circling their greenery would look awesome planted here and there around the outline of the square.. dont think it would cost all that compared to the tons of stuff out there now…

  8. Park Enthusiast August 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I appreciate the desire for organized recreational space,
    but it’s worth noting Capitolo is just two blocks away. Conversion
    to a classic public square seems the way to go and would be much
    loved in this neighborhood. You could repurpose the roundhouse for
    public functions and/or a modest cafe, not unlike the Milk and
    Honey at Sister Cities. Also, for what it’s worth, this would be a
    fitting return to Columbus Square’s (i.e. Passyunk Square’s)
    original layout:

  9. PSQ Resident August 27, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I as well fully support a Rittenhouse style leisure use park. To see the round house turned into some kind of cafe, with paths, benches, fountains, etc throughout the park would be amazing. The ballfields are nice and all, but games can still be played on regular grass, and the park currently sits about 70% completely unused 90% of the time with that looming black barricade surrounding the whole thing.

  10. nearby resident August 28, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Seriously? The first 100 people to email them are deciding the fate of this park? Its final design should be aim to provide a usable space for the widest range of people and community events, as well as a comprehensive review of similar projects (ala Dickinson Square). To base it on “about 100″ emails is so unscientific it makes me really upset. At the least they should have drawn up a proper survey, put it online, and flyered door to door to get more people to weigh in. I have three email accounts… do I count as three people?

    I wholly agree with Phil, Park Enthusiast, and PSQ Resident…we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn this park into a real gathering place for the neighborhood. A passive-style park (outside of the dog parks and tot lot) in my mind is clearly the best course. I want it to be a place for kids too–the whole family–but we mustn’t be hasty and simply listen to the loudest baseball parent. And yes, LAM, let’s return to the original and most fitting name, Passyunk Square Park.

  11. Brian August 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly that a square akin to Dickinson would be such a great asset for our neighborhood. I have young children and absolutely see the value in a ball field, but this one is too large and inaccessible. As mentioned by Park Enthusiast, Capitolo should be the local venue for organized sports.

    It is such a shame to see the majority of this Square sit empty on a beautiful summer day, fenced off from the bustling neighborhood surrounding it.

  12. Jesse August 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Replacing the tile in both playground areas is a must. I
    love the idea of shade veils, going to the park around sunset can
    be brutal in the summer.

  13. Richard Fitzgerald August 30, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    A Rittenhouse/Washington Sq type park for all to use would
    be an incredible addition to our wonderful neighborhood. Massive
    dedicated playing fields are just a few blocks away. We don’t need
    more. We need an usable, enjoyable, beautiful space for everyone in
    the neighborhood. Athletic fields need fences and fences keep the
    neighbors out. Let’s return this beautiful space to a lively,
    engaged, notable neighborhood amenity.

  14. Mare August 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I am all for improving the park but I also want to say that I very grateful for those who have planted and maintained the flowers and shrubs along 13th and Reed. I have had many many moments with my dog surrounded by beautiful roses, flowers, bees, spiders, and all that the outdoors has to offer in this city space. I would hate to see that go.

  15. Richard September 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    I just visited the newly renovated JJ Byrne Playground and Park in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and was struck by the similarities – size, city-location, type-of-neighborhood – to our Columbus Square/Passyunk Park. Go online and see what they did there. Took and old ballpark park and turned it into an incredible community park. Kids fountains, save climbing areas, play area, planting areas, sitting areas…..and the most attractive black open fence around it with numerous welcoming openings. A real urban masterpiece. We have a chance to do something just as neighborhood-friendly and attractive. PLEASE don’t settle for a compromise…and a cheap one, at that. Let’s think big.

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