2007: Basketball Court Rebuild

The original basketball court was installed in 1960 and, by 2001, it was time to look into getting a new court installed. After extensive discussion among the Planning Committee, ground was broken on the project in August 2007.

The new basketball court would have a water reclamation system installed underneath: an eight-foot-deep pit filled with rocks, which would enable rain water to seep in and be held in a catchment basin so it could slowly return to the city’s water system. This improved drainage issues in Park B. Also, a water fountain was installed.

August 2007 Photos: Initial Groundbreaking

November 2007 Photos: Water Reclamation System

Article from the Spring 2007 Newsletter

More than a Basketball Court

by Matt Grubel

Storm water mitigation has propelled the reconstruction of the basketball court forward. While replacement of the court has been discussed since 2001 when the Master Plan was adopted, getting it funded has been an issue. This past year, it got priority and funding because it will be more than just a basketball court.

To fund this project, Councilwoman Blackwell and the Recreation Department worked with the Capital Programs Office and Water Department. They obtained a matching grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by proposing the land under the court could be used to help address water issues. In turn, The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s Philadelphia Green was contracted to do the design work in collaboration with Cahill Associates, environmental engineers.

The design will be shown at the Spring FoCP Membership Meeting (April 18). It incorporates a demonstration storm water retention system, subtle grading, and gentle walkway changes. In addition, the plans include staging and construction entrances along with erosion and tree protection measures. These will presented along with a status report and projected schedule for construction, if available.

Article from the Fall 2007 Newsletter

Oysters, Ashes and Basketball Court
By Matt Grubel

Construction of the new basketball court turned up a layer of ash, along with oyster shells, old bottles and other trash. These came up while digging the infiltration basin that will be under the new basketball court. This basin is a key component in a demonstration storm water system that is helping cover a portion of the cost of replacing the court.

Work began August 20th with walls of straw bales to control erosion and protect the trees. Over the next couple of weeks the old court surface, benches, fencing, and baskets were removed and then excavation began for the infiltration basin. It was during this excavation that the oyster shells and old bottles came up along with the ash fill. It’s possible that the shells were simply trash, or may have been a layer placed on top of the ash which helped fill the former mill ponds.

The basin is designed to allow collected surface water to percolate into the ground. Runoff will be collected at four inlets around the court; one inlet on 43rd street, one on each side of the Kingsessing Ave. parking lot, and one next to the court itself. If the water level in the basin ever gets too high, the main inlet box is designed with an overflow relief. This will carry water back to the existing storm sewer line under the sidewalk.

All of this effort is to reduce the times the sewer treatment system gets overwhelmed. The problem is that the sewage and storm water sytems are one and the same. The treatment facility (at the intersection of 42nd and 43rd Streets) keeps the sewage out of the Schuylkill River pretty well. However, during heavy storms, so much water comes through the systems, sometimes the treatment plant has to be bypassed to prevent massive flooding.
Completion of the basketball court itself is now expect to be toward the end of October. The playing area will be closer to adult regulation size and consist of one full court. The option for an additional half court remains open for the future.

In addition to the new court, some of the footwalks will be rerouted to better connect with the south side in ‘C’ Park. This was to provide good pedestrian access across the park. It will more than make up for the loss of the sidewalk along Kingsessing Ave., now used for parking. Removing this old sidewalk helped provide space for a wider court without cutting into lawn area. Included in the project was the removal of two trees. One was enmeshed in the fencing and never belonged there. The other was an older Norway Maple that had done better than expected over the past several years. However, the roots were were knotted and, in spite of pruning, more limbs were dying.

The Basketball Court project is being overseen jointly by the City, with Philadelphia Green and Cahill Associates doing the design work. If you’re interested in the technical details, browse to http://www.clark-park.org/planning/BBallDrain.html to examine the plans for the project, and on the Clark Park website, videos of the April 2007 meeting can be viewed.

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