Project 250, a velodrome and mixed-use facility for the community, could be coming to FDR Park across from the stadiums, pending the approval of the City of Philadelphia.
In case you’re wondering, a velodrome is an embanked oval track used for fixed gear, no-brake cycling races. Only a very limited number of these establishments exist throughout the United States, with the next closest facility being the Valley Preferred Cycling Center located in Trexlertown, PA.
The plans for the velodrome include a large, mixed-use facility to encompass community activities, while still maintaining what FDR Park has to offer. Not only does Project 250 plan to bring a 250-meter world-class, indoor cycling track to South Philly, but they are also planning to increase community programming by working with other programs throughout the city like the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Cadence bike shop’s youth cycling program which provides free racing instruction to low-income teens. A bike shop and fitness center are also being planned for the facility. Inga Saffron reports that it would also have the ability to hold non-biking events, such as concerts and tennis and volleyball matches.
Beyond building this facility for improvements to the cycling community in the city, the plan also involves extensive improvements to the park. Project 250 plans to devote between $5 million and $15 million to repair the park’s paths and clean out the lakes, in addition to creating a new green space in replacement of the space which would be displaced due to the construction of the facility.
Originally the project was considered for the Navy Yard, but according to to Phil Senechal who is involved with Project 250, the location was not as ideal for the project as a location at the park and amongst the stadiums. Although the facility would not be located at the Navy Yard, Senechal says that they would consider creating a new green space at that location.
Because the property being proposed for the facility is located on parkland, the project must first be approved with Parks and Recreation under certain stipulations with the Open Land Protection Ordinance before requiring the approval of city officials, including the Historical and Art Commissions and the mayor, who has been working to improve the cycling infrastructure in the city.
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The arena, which would occupy a Broad Street site across from the Sports Complex, has already won strong backing from Mayor Nutter and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, as well as from the Friends of FDR Park and neighborhood groups.
Throughout the planning process, Project 250 has been in contact with various friends groups, specifically the Friends of FDR Park, to understand the needs of the community.
The plans for Project 250 will be presented at a meeting on Dec. 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the American Swedish Historical Museum.
With a new bike-share program and bicycle advocacy board for the city already, the cycling community in Philadelphia is continuing to grow. Is a velodrome inside one of the city’s public parks the next step?
–Taylor Farnsworth, @tfarnsworth3