Nature-Based Play Area Coming to Coatesville’s Palmer Park

Posted on July 18, 2017 by Jill Whitcomb

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Coatesville, PA, July 18, 2017 – Brandywine Health Foundation, working in partnership with Natural Lands and the City of Coatesville, has been selected as a recipient of a $150,000 Building Better Communities grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The grant will support revitalization of Palmer Park in Coatesville, one of three communities nationwide awarded such a grant in 2017.

Community parks like Palmer Park are vital for connecting children to nature. Providing nature-based play elements in the park, including opportunities to play in and learn about water, fosters an appreciation for environmental stewardship, while providing opportunities for healthy physical activity.

Word of the Building Better Communities grant came as the City of Coatesville and Natural Lands launched a planning process to enhance Palmer Park, a 1-acre neighborhood park located in the city’s east end. The plan, made possible by support from Chester County and Arcelor Mittal, will give the neighboring community the opportunity to help craft a vision for the future of the park, which will include a nature and water focused play area, as well as plans for improvements to the existing playground, basketball courts, and more.

Thanks to the Building Better Communities grant, the City and its partners will have the opportunity to move immediately into implementing a portion of that vision.

“One of the most amazing aspects of this project is how local community members will be designing, planning and helping recreate Palmer Park as a fun and safe place for kids and for future generations of families,” said Terry Maenza, Director of Communications & External Affairs at

Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water. “We are so proud to partner with the many individuals and organizations who have come together to work on this initiative, and our employees are excited to pitch in and lend their support for a project that is sure to make a positive difference for Coatesville for years to come.”

Revitalization of Palmer Park arose as a priority when the City, Natural Lands, and the Brandywine Health Foundation worked with the community last year to craft Coatesville Parks 2021: An Action Plan for Thriving Parks and Healthy People.

“Palmer Park is a well-loved gem in Coatesville with tremendous potential,” noted Molly Morrison, President of Natural Lands. “It may be small but it has an outsized role in the lives of the surrounding community.  Thanks to the American Water Charitable Foundation, we now have the opportunity to plan for and quickly revitalize a portion of the park and provide engaging nature play, as one part of the overall vision for the park.”

“I extend my appreciation for Pennsylvania American Water, the Brandywine Health Foundation and Natural Lands for coming together with the city to improve the quality of life for our community and for establishing a wonderful working relationship that will last throughout time,” remarked Linda Lavender Norris, City Council Member, 5th Ward Representative.

“The Brandywine Health Foundation has always been committed to engaging Coatesville area citizens and youth in all its work and we look forward to working with the families and residents surrounding Palmer Park to design and create a beautiful new space in our community,” commented Vanessa Briggs, President and CEO. “Our children and families deserve to have access to appealing and well-managed parks and playgrounds in their neighborhoods where they can enjoy healthy and safe outdoor activities and build community.  We are honored to partner with the American Water Foundation to help turn our ideas and designs into a reality.”

The other cities receiving Building Better Communities this year were Peoria, IL and Seaside, CA. The grant is administered by the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA). “NRPA believes every person should have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. That’s why we’re proud to present these communities with the Building Better Communities grant,” said Lori Robertson, NRPA director of conservation. “Ensuring children and families everywhere have the opportunity to engage in physical activity and explore the benefits of nature is essential to building healthier, stronger communities and creating the next generation of environmental stewards.”

“We are excited to give these three communities an opportunity to foster a greater sense of appreciation for the environment in a fun and engaging way,” said Laura Martin, External Affairs Manager, West Virginia American Water and President of the American Water Charitable Foundation. “The projects will not only benefit the children and families in these communities, but they will also encourage the continued viability of and appreciation for our nation’s water resources. The Building Better Communities program supports American Water’s core values of community stewardship and environmental sustainability, and aligns with areas of importance to the company’s employees, including child welfare and education.”

“I want to thank the Brandywine Health Foundation and Natural Lands for their work in making this project possible. Outdoor areas, public parks, and new recreational opportunities will play a key role in Coatesville’s ongoing revitalization,” state Senator Andy Dinniman said. “I look forward to the opening of the new Palmer Park to benefit residents, families, and children in the Coatesville area for years to come.”

“Because Paul Palmer was my teacher at the James Adams School in Coatesville, and the park is named in his honor – this project is particularly dear to my heart,” Rep. Harry Lewis Jr. (R-Chester) said. “Now, because of the grant, this tribute to him will have an even greater impact on the children of our community.”

For more information about the Building Better Communities program, visit


The Brandywine Health Foundation has distributed over $16 million in grants and scholarships since 2001. The Foundation provides resources and leadership, bringing the community together to increase access to health care for everyone, help young people grow up safe and successful, and help build a vibrant and healthier Coatesville.  To learn more about the Brandywine Health Foundation visit or contact

Natural Lands is dedicated to preserving and nurturing nature’s wonders while creating opportunities for joy and discovery in the outdoors for everyone. As the Greater Philadelphia region’s oldest and largest land conservation organization, Natural Lands has preserved more than 125,000 acres, including 44 nature preserves totaling more than 23,000 acres. Some 2.5 million people live within five miles of land under the organization’s protection. Land for life, nature for all.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

The American Water Charitable Foundation was established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen, and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support American Water employee-identified nonprofit endeavors.