Friday, October 4, 2013

Pennsport at the Forefront of $5 Million Grant to Increase Waterfront Access

Southern Waterfront Section, almost the entirety of the Pennsport Waterfront (via DRWC)

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) and the William Penn Foundation held a press conference on Thursday announcing a $5 million grant that will completely change the current landscape of the Central Delaware River and further implement the Master Plan for the Central Delaware River. The plan centers on the development of Pier 68, a southern multipurpose trail and the Tasker Street Connector. That's right, Pennsport is right in the thick of things.

The Pennsport Plan:
The meat and potatoes of this announcement is built around developing the section of the Delaware River waterfront south of Pier 53/Washington Avenue Green through Pier 70.  We profiled this plan back in April after Joe Forkin, Vice President of Operations and Development with the DRWC, spoke at length about the emphasis being placed on the Pennsport waterfront, especially due to the viability of Pier 68.

Overhead rendering of Pier 68, the cornerstone of today's announcement (via Plan Philly)

Today's announcement reaffirmed and expanded upon the notes from the meeting in April. As you can see in this article from Plan Philly, the structure of Pier 68 has been deemed viable out to 390 feet, that's up from 350 feet at the April meeting. On top of that, plans have surfaced for the use of Pier 68 -- a public fishing pier with potential for recreational watercraft. That shouldn't come as a huge surprise as it was revealed in the April meeting that Pier 68 was currently, albeit illegally, being used in that capacity (as well as a tugboat landing) and that the DRWC was looking to design a project around the wetlands.

However, some interesting news comes in the form of the possibility of Philadelphia holding a Bassmaster's Fishing Tournament sometime in August of 2014 at Penn's Landing. The DRWC is looking to have Pier 68 completed in time for the tournament in order to showcase the new public fishing opportunities on the Delaware River on a national stage.

This news, coupled with the timeline of Pier 53 scheduled for completion in the Summer/Fall 2014, and you're looking at a total sea-change for the Pennsport waterfront in around a years time.

The Neighborhood Connection:
Given that the Delaware River is separated from the neighborhood by Columbus Boulevard (and I-95), the DRWC has had to get creative in answering how the public will be able to access these beautiful new parks. The answer lies in connector streets.

Much like the two new connector streets (Race St. and Spring Garden St.) that provide access to the river in to the neighborhood it borders, Pennsport will have access by way of the Washington Avenue Connector and the newly announced Tasker Street Connector.

Currently, the rail road tracks and Columbus Boulevard, combined with the limited land access at the old Foxwood's site at Reed Street, make it impossible for pedestrians to enter or exit the trail from points other than Washington Avenue in the north or the Walmart parking lot in the south. However, a properly constructed Tasker Street Connector will connect the neighborhood, provide multiple points of access to the trail as well as beautify and improve pedestrian safety around the area -- which is sorely needed.

If everything goes according to plan, knock on wood, we could be looking at completely different waterfront in Pennsport by the end of the Summer of 2014. Frankly, that's an exciting prospect. The DRWC has a vision that contains comprehensive plan for the river and has been aggressive in obtaining the land needed to transform the stretch of water from Pier 53 to Pier 70 from under utilized land of forgotten piers into a focal point for wetland preservation, natural beauty, and neighborhood enjoyment.

Please share your thoughts on this announcement in the comments sections, on Twitter (@pennsporter), on Facebook, or by email (


  1. Also ,I never understood , that down by the Walmart pier , Why not build a pier for fishing ? walmart is right there . they have bait and tackle , even though it's the worst walmart in the history of walmarts ever build . But make a pier , charge people like 2 dollars or 3 .. have it open at a reasonable time 8 AM , and close at a reasonable time 9PM . The money goes to maintaining and other city billing ? whatever ... I would really like to see something like this in the future instead of locking all the piers down and not allowing people to Fish ..