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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Funding secured for Columbus Square redesign, construction to start 2017

Columbus Square has been slated for a redesign for about two years, awaiting enough money to remake the park at 12th and Wharton into a gathering space as well as a recreational park. Now, the project is about to come to fruition.

Proposed redesign looking from 12th and Reed. Rendering by the Community Design Collaborative

Proposed redesign looking from 12th and Reed. Rendering by the Community Design Collaborative

Construction on the $2.8 million Columbus Square redesign is expected to begin in 2017, thanks to some new grant money that has secured the project’s funding.

The project is moving forward with a list of improvements to the park, including: a redesigned “patio” area along 13th Street to connect all corners of the park, refurbished surfacing for the dog park areas with anti-bacterial grass, shorter fences in certain areas, improvements to the rec center, open lawn space on the Reed Street side, new paths that would connect all corners of the park, and more. You can read about more of the expected improvements here.

The site plan

The site plan

Along with this redesign comes a plan to drop the “park” from the name for the space to simply be referred to as Columbus Square, just as you would refer to Dickinson Square, Rittenhouse Square, etc.

The project is being completed with grant money from the William Penn Foundation, along with funding from the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation and the city. A portion of the funds for the project were also raised through Columbus Square’s various fundraising efforts since 2014.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2017.

You can find out more about Columbus Square here.

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18 Responses to Funding secured for Columbus Square redesign, construction to start 2017

  1. Anthony September 15, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    Great news. Thanks to everyone responsible for making this happen!!!

  2. Mary Madonna September 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    dont let parc manage it after its gateway mess. Changes design with no community input, put in pavers that are already cracking and crumbling and a “covering” for events that doesn’t block rain or sun.

    A sad waste of 400k

    • dave September 17, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

      I think the gateway project is a handsome addition, and a far cry better than what was there previously.

  3. Jackie September 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Wonderful! This park improvement is going to mean so much to the community. I’m especially excited for the dog park improvements.

  4. eric r. September 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    Isn’t the “new” layout exactly the same as it currently exists? Other than removing the round building in the southeast corner it’s the same layout with the same items (play area, kid area, dog park, big field that is rarely used are all in the same spots). This does not inspire confidence that a lot of thought was given to alternative design. While the kid area and dog park are always busy and obviously used, that open space could be downsized and still permit recreational sports. I would be interested in a larger open grass area that wasn’t specifically designated for sports to encourage more picnic or leisure-type use of the park. It’d be nice to have a park in the area where you might want to take a walk or bring a blanket and hang out. Also, any field set up and designated for sports will end up being dirt/dust so that open space isn’t going to be able to fill that role.

    • dave September 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

      OK, I’ve read all of these responses, both positive and negative. So, let’s just get a couple of things straight. per eric f. above: no, the layout is NOT exactly the same as it is currently: removing the dilapidated round building allows for the south east entrance to the park to actually BE an open entrance, and losing about 20% of the current playing fields, on the south (Reed St) side DOES create some a significant amount of open grass space which can be used for picnic / leisure-type use not specifically for recreational sports, Meanwhile, there still is fairly ample room to continue to allow for some organized team sports. (Parks and Recreation]City of Philadelphia still own and operate (and pay for the bulk of this project, so of course, they are going to want to retain some recreational sport playing fields.) Meanwhile, the “Patio’ area along 13th Street will also provide for additional picnic / entertainment / seating areas. Yes, the dog park is expanding, so that there is room for both a large and small dog park, but it is NOT taking away area from the playground lots, because a) the kids lot pushes west slightly, as does seating area to watch the kids areas, and b) some of the additional dog space area comes from the loss of the round house. Plus, the kids lots equipment is being upgraded. I’ve never seen any kids turned away from the playground due to lack of space, it’s called SHARING the space, folks!. Also, the irrigation / drainage plans for the sporting fields, plus better soil / sodding, and upkeep will prevent it from becoming a dust bowl (as it is currently a former incinerator site from many years ago, and so there is a lot of cinder ash in the soil. The whole idea of Columbus Square (and ANY public space, frankly) is that it strives to serve ALL of the residents. SO, likely NO-ONE is going to be 100% happy, because EVERYONE has to give up a little bit so that EVERYONE gets a little something in the bargain. Lee is correct, there has been YEARS now of community meetings, and lots of time for folks to make their ideas known. in the end, it is about compromise. Robert, I disagree with you, those fields are used most of the year….baseball little league, gay flag football, community soccer, girls and boys soccer, Thursday night kickball, neighborhood pick-up games, the school at 13th and Wharton uses it for recess /lunch….and, even though it’s against the rules, some people let their large dogs run free at night, in the winter when it’s snowing, and some middle school and high school kids ofren hang out there at night (probably drinking), and judging by the condoms and tiny little drug baggies I see every morning when I walk my dog, I think there’s even more illicit acitivity going on in that park, as well. what should we do? have Donald trump build a wall around it and not let anyone in? there is no perfect solution, but between the city, various quasi governmental orgs like PARC, foundations like William penn, and regular folks donating what they can, they have raised 2.8 + million dollars to make it a better park for all in our neighborhood. Why not come out on a weekend, and spend some time weeding, picking up trash, or dog poop that SOME negligent dogowners leave for others to step in, or any number of other activities to get engaged, instead of sitting on the sidelines and bitching about what others are trying to accomplish.

      • Zachary September 18, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

        “I’ve never seen any kids turned away from the playground due to lack of space, it’s called SHARING the space, folks!”
        Seriously? The tot lot is constantly at capacity. Try going between 10AM and noon. It’s a nightmare. You can’t exactly explain sharing to a pack of energetic 18 month olds. They do parallel play at that age, and it can get rough. If I see more than a dozen kids there, I don’t even go in the park, I just go back home instead. If anything needs more space, it’s the playground.

      • Hank T September 18, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

        You sound like a parc shill. We are sick of your “revitalization” and we are going to take back passyunk. What you’re doing to Columbus Square Park is not okay.

  5. Zachary September 17, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    I was super excited for this until I saw “Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation”. It seems like they’re on a mission to destroy our neighborhood. I’m sure this will be another half-assed “refresh” with no input from the families that use this park every day.

    • Robert September 17, 2015 at 11:14 am #

      PARC has got to stop. I love this park. I take my kids here every day. Is there a way residents can fight this? How exactly does PARC work, where they have the freedom to come in and screw with existing public spaces like this?

      • Neighbor September 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

        To be fair, PARC is only marginally involved. They are putting up money, but the designs went through significant discussion with a great deal of community input. There were many drastically different perspectives being weighed. The option pictured above is the result of a serious compromise backed by the city.

  6. pass September 17, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    I wish they would just get rid of the baseball field. It is only used intermittently for a portion of the year by a select group of people. There is another ball park on Wharton, another on Fitzwater, another in Pennsport, more in FDR Park, etc. How many of these do we need?

    • Neighbor September 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      The field is used quite regularly by Taney baseball for which the city receives a great deal of money through permitting. They are actually getting rid of one baseball field to the dismay of Taney, but they’re keeping one field and bringing the south fence in 60 feet. It also allows for the pick-up soccer games, rugby practice, and kickball leagues that frequent the field.

  7. Lee September 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    Fear not, neighbors. The design was developed by a team of designers assembled through the community design collaborative. They had several community meetings seeking input on the design and a final meeting presenting the concept (that was endorsed by Parks and Rec).

    PARC has had little involvement on this and as far as I can tell are providing _some_ funding for this and not much else.

  8. Bryan September 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    Per the design here, the expansion of the dog park into the kids playground needs to be thought out. The removal of the tree and grass area in the play area eliminates the only spot where people can hang next to the equipment that isn’t a bench. Moreover the proximity of the dog park to the play equipment is too close and will be nothing but drama. It’s like more concession were made to the dog owners than to anyone with kids or families.

    • Anittah September 18, 2015 at 12:05 am #

      Bryan makes a good point. Why is it that the dog park takes up more square footage than both playgrounds combined? As a mom, I wish I could go to a grassy area with a fence around it and let my kid run around while I stared off in the middle distance with a coffee in hand. It doesn’t need to be as big as the dog park is. I’d take half that size. A quarter, even.

      I guess I understand that it’s the only dog park around whereas there are other children’s playgrounds, but really all that means is that dog owners let their beasts poop and pee everywhere else so that there’s no grassy area that isn’t likely to be festering with feces driblets. Yum.

      • Neighbor September 21, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

        There is no dog park within a mile of Columbus Square. Also, making it smaller would lead to more confrontations and less usability of the dog run. If you want to keep dogs off of the brand new field they’re putting in, you need to make the dog park bigger. The children’s playground isn’t suffering terribly since much of the space that is being taken up by the dog park expansion is coming from area that was previously covered by the round house. The dog park will not be infringing on the playground area, especially considering that the dog park sees much more concerted use throughout the year as opposed to the playground’s use.

  9. spf5000 September 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    Forget Columbus Square. Let’s restore the name back to Passyunk Square. Everyone’s dropping the European invader names for original native names. Mount McKinley is Denali again.

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