A group of preschoolers ran to the slide, swings, and seesaw of Harrisburg’s newest park, mid-morning on Thursday.
In the foreground, the city cut the ribbon on the updated 4th and Dauphin Park, which includes shiny new play equipment, a basketball court and rain gardens.
“Today is really a celebration of a multi-year process which has resulted here in this beautiful, fully renovated, gorgeous playground and park in Uptown Harrisburg,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said.
The park is the last of five new parks to be renovated in Harrisburg as part of a partnership between the city and Capital Region Water (CRW). In total, about $3 million worth of restoration work was done at Cloverly Heights, Penn & Sayford, Royal Terrace, and Norwood & Holly parks.
The initiative was specifically focused on installing stormwater management features to parks to reduce the flow of rain runoff into the sewer system.
In the 4th and Dauphin Park, the project included a new pervious basketball court, added vegetation, rain gardens and underground storm sewer pipes.
“It includes stormwater management elements that mitigate localized flooding and reduce sewer overflows,” said Charlotte Katzenmoyer, CRW’s chief executive officer. “When there is a water quality concern from water quantity issues, you need to get creative.’
The $750,000 project received funding from both CRW, which contributed $267,000, and Impact Harrisburg, which gave over $63,000. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the state Department of Community and Economic Development contributed, as well.
“A vibrant community requires a vibrant playground,” said Sheila Dow-Ford, executive director of Impact Harrisburg. “We live in a city that is a playground paradise.”
Katzenmoyer said that the ideas for the playground came from a series of community surveys and engagement. They hope residents will continue to invest in the space, by participating in their Adopt-A-Rain Garden program. Volunteers can help maintain the gardens by keeping them litter free. They will also be recognized with a sign at their rain garden, and CRW staff will provide training. Organizations, businesses and individuals can apply.
The local Neighborhood Center of the United Methodist Church has adopted the park. On Thursday, kids from the center played on the new playground.
“I think it’ll be an excellent resource for the kids,” said Joelle Ewell, program development coordinator and a preschool teacher at the center. “Anything that adds to their activities in the community is badly needed.”
Although this was the final park in the string of five that faced renovation, CRW and city officials said they are far from done with improvements in Harrisburg.
“This project is just one example of many projects to come in the next 30 years in Harrisburg,” Katzenmoyer said.
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