Palmer Park is located in the east end neighborhood of Coatesville, a historically African American neighborhood, and situated among residential homes and commercial buildings. According to ParkServe, 85% of residents in Coatesville live within a 10 min walk of a park. By making the improvements to Palmer Park, residents from all across Coatesville, not just those closest to the park, will be able to connect and have increased access to a safe and lively park. The park is currently a popular destination for children from the surrounding blocks. It includes quality playground equipment, basketball courts, mature trees, and some seating areas, but it is in great need of revitalization. It is also home to one of the City’s two closed swimming pools.
Fortunately, a window of opportunity has opened to transform Palmer Park into a source of community pride and a healthy, thriving place for children, families, and adults to recreate. Last year, the City – again with the assistance of Brandywine Health Foundation, Natural Lands, and with funding from Chester County – completed a master plan for the park with enormous input from neighbors surrounding the park. This revitalization, broken into four phases, will seamlessly blend traditional play equipment and basketball courts with winding paths, seating, beautiful landscaping, educational water features, natural play equipment, and green infrastructure elements that manage stormwater. All generations will enjoy these newly created spaces. The innovativeness of the project introduces natural play and conservation features in an impoverished community where such play experiences are quite rare.
To date, funds were secured from private sources for the first phase of the revitalization of Palmer Park, which includes the replacement of the closed pool with an innovative nature and water play area. Construction on Phase 1 will be completed on May 14th and will be followed by a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Community Celebration.
Although much progress will be made in that area of the park, it is important that the City and its partners continue to build community involvement and trust by addressing other phases of the plan as quickly as possible. With support from DCNR and other funders like you, we have the opportunity to do so.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has awarded the City of Coatesville a $250,000 matching grant to complete phases two and three of the Palmer Park Master Plan over the next two years. The Brandywine Health Foundation secured an initial $50,000 gift from Jennifer and Bob McNeil to kick-off the fundraising campaign to match the DCNR grant and we are currently seeking additional funds so that construction may begin in the Spring of 2020.
Project activities at Palmer Park for phases two and three will include:
- Clean up and repair the existing playground equipment
- Replace the worn, artificial play surface with a pervious engineered wood fiber to help mitigate storm water.
- Add buffer separating the playground from the surrounding roads with a planted screen of native evergreen shrubs, providing additional natural landscaping and enhance the scenic beauty of the park.
- To help direct runoff and ease infiltration, raised planters will be incorporated in the heavily shaded areas and more pervious areas of the park.
- Add paths and seating to the lawn area to provide more opportunities for exercise and socializing – particularly for older residents
- Replacing a small pavilion with a larger pavilion to accommodate gathering of residents and organizations serving meals to those in need and hosting community gatherings;
- Activating unused areas and streets by creating spaces for street games, skate park, and active play spaces;
- Creating areas for social and intergenerational exchange by experimenting with seating arrangement and designs including additions of tables, hammocks, gaming areas with chess and checker tables;
- Installing ADA accessible paths allowing for increase mobility to various areas of the park;
- Installing lighting in order to extend the possible hours of use and address resident safety concerns; and
- Launching resident and youth leadership Park’s Friends groups and Park Ambassadors to monitor park maintenance and programmatic needs.
The planned improvements to Palmer Park phase two and three will result in less impervious surface, increased plantings of trees and native shrubs, more shade to reduce the urban heat effect in the park. They will correspond nicely with the new water and nature play area and encourage outdoor and social connections for children and families in the City of Coatesville.