Project Will Add Amenities, New Environmental Protections While Enhancing PA's Award-Winning State Park System
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Benjamin Rush State Park, Philadelphia's only state park and the largest single area of undeveloped land along the ecologically important Poquessing Creek, will receive a number of improvements through a new, $2.7 million investment announced today by the Rendell administration.
Governor Edward G. Rendell's chief of staff, Steve Crawford, visited the nearby Delaware Valley Veterans Home to announce the funding. He said the improvements to the northeast Philadelphia park will offer visitors more amenities and better protect the environment.
"For many people, Ben Rush State Park is a 275-acre oasis in the midst of an urban environment," said Crawford. "It's a place to go for green space and for recreation. It gives many people a chance to re-energize from the stress of life's fast pace.
"But it's also an important natural resource, particularly when it comes to sustaining life throughout the Poquessing watershed. This park is home to many different species of birds and other animals. It's important that we do all we can to protect and preserve this area, while making it an enjoyable and fun destination for Pennsylvanians."
Crawford said the new funding is only the latest of a series of ongoing investments in Pennsylvania's environment and nationally recognized state park system.
Since 2003, the Rendell administration has invested $280 million to improve the infrastructure of Pennsylvania's state park system and make other capital improvements. Those investments, he said, helped the state's 117-park system earn the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.
The funding announced today will help add a new and safer park entrance on Southampton Road, which will lead patrons to other park improvements, such as a trailhead and three miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails that will give visitors access to field, forest and stream habitats. A comfort station and parking areas will also be built, and new water and sewer systems and stormwater controls will be added to improve environmental protection.
Other green features to be added include native plants and porous asphalt parking material to better manage stormwater runoff.
Many improvements to the park were delayed as other issues and funding shortfalls were addressed. The $2.7 million the Rendell administration announced today represents the latest investment in the park, which previously benefited from nearly $2.2 million in capital budget funds for the project.
Design work is now being completed and the project should be put out to bid in the first half of 2011, with construction getting underway later in the year depending on when it receives the necessary permits.
Benjamin Rush State Park—named after the Philadelphia-born physician who also was a medical teacher and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence—is the largest single area of undeveloped land remaining along the Poquessing Creek. The park offers 11 acres of community gardens—one of the largest such features in the world—and a remote-control plane flying field.
The land for Benjamin Rush State Park was part of the Byberry State Hospital property and was transferred to the state park system in 1975. Additional acreage was added to the park in 2003. It is the only state park in Philadelphia County.
For more information on Pennsylvania's 117 state parks, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us or call 888-PA-PARKS (727-2757).
Christina Novak, DCNR; 717-772-9101
Gary Tuma, Governor's Office; 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor