by Tony West
It was a long time coming, and it’s been a long time in the rebuilding. But this spring, the North Park or “Park A,” between Baltimore and Chester Avenues, will be substantially rehabilitated.
As of Apr. 1, a brand-new pathway system has been laid down. Running under these new paths is a new plumbing line, which will enable us to bring water into this side of the park, and new electrical lines to new lampposts. Some of these lampposts will have GFCI outlets, enabling large events to run power without noisy generators. A new Central Plaza has been laid down, creating an exciting new public space.
Finishing the work won’t take long, Francesco Cerrai assures us. He is the Philadelphia Capital Program’s project manager for this job and has overseen it every step of the way.
Look for dramatic changes over the next month, though. April will be the month in which the work dearest to most people’s hearts will be tackled. That’s the landscaping. It will be a complex process, with regrading to establish new drainage patterns, new organic topsoil, sodding and seeding.
A machine called an Aero-Vator will address the important issue of soil compaction. It is able to loosen the soil without disturbing the roots of trees. Trees will receive extensive mulching with radial trenching. New trees will be planted and an ornamental garden will be started.
Finally, the benches and trash cans will be reinstalled, with some additions. New tables and chairs will adorn the Central Plaza, for the delight of the chess players and many other people as well. And yes, the Turtle will come home!
“It will be more gracious-looking,” promises Cerrai. But he asks that the public take good care of this work.
The fences will remain up for four weeks after the new grass and sod is laid down. Even after that, he says, it is important for people to be patient and not rush in to trample the new growth into dust again. “Take a little care to avoid walking on the grass this year,” he says. “Use the pathways if you’re going somewhere. That’s why we built them.”