The wetland project will involve dredging a significant amount of soil, clearing the area of current vegetation, planting thousands of new trees, bushes, and shrubs, and installing two new tide gates. It’s meant to help fix chronic flooding in the park and make it more resilient to climate change.
“This will actually improve the way that the park can drain,” said Charles Neer, with WRT, the firm hired to design the park plan. “Placement of that fill will make active recreation high and dry and usable for all.”
The dredged soil will be used to raise up parts of the former golf course, to create picnic groves, basketball and tennis courts, and several sports fields. Officials say parkgoers will maintain access to parts of the abandoned golf course during the wetland construction.
The wetland is being built by the Philadelphia International Airport to offset the disruption of other wetlands in the airport’s cargo expansion project. The 33-acre size of the planned wetland at FDR park is smaller than the 45 acres the airport and the other originally announced partners.
The airport is still awaiting a permit approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers, but site staging, mowing, and clearing could all happen this month, said Division of Aviation Interim CEO Keith Brune.
The “nature phase” of the park redo is expected to take until 2026 and cost $45 million. Other elements include 23 acres of sedge meadow with boardwalks, restoration of Shedbrook Creek, a forest with a canopy structure for recreation, and a plant nursery.