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Venice Island Merges Utility, Creativity and Entertainment

One of the most interesting collaborative projects that combines a highly sophisticated water basin and pump, a playground and a brand new 250-seat theater is set to open tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Manayunk. Venice Island, a strip of land that separates the Manayunk Tow Path from the Schuylkill River, is a rare instance where need ultimately led so much more. Federally mandated by the EPA's Clean Water Act to build a sewage overflow station during intense rainstorms, the Philadelphia Water Department started working on a plan to install 4-million gallon underground basin and pump station on Venice Island. After working with Parks & Rec and the Manayunk Development Corporation, the project morphed into and incredible new recreation facility for the surrounding area.

Officially the Venice Island Performing Art & Recreation Center, the grounds will be chock-full of green infrastructure — including a green roof on the pump house and water retention spaces like a spray ground area and multiple rain gardens. The 250-seat theater will be "state of the art" and become the centerpiece of the cultural renaissance of the area. There is also a new parking lot featuring space for 180 cars on site to accommodate visitors to the park or future events.

The center, which ultimately cost $46M to construct, will also include new basketball court, new playground and an outdoor amphitheater with grassy tiered seating. Hidden City explains how a sewage system can co-exist with these shiny new facilities: "Air filters and a sophisticated ventilation system will prevent the scent of sewage from permeating the new public space."

As for the basin, it's heavy-duty stuff. The Philadelphia Water Department says the basin is capable of storing 4-million gallons of water and it large enough to fit 180 SEPTA buses within its chambers. According to the Daily News, it's longer than a football field and 25-feet deep.
· $46M Venice Island playground debuts in Manayunk [Daily News]
· The Hidden River On Grand Display [Hidden City]
· Venice Island [Manayunk Official]