A portion of the future Rail Park just got a whole lot greener.
Today, 100 volunteers took to a portion of the Rail Park at 12th and Noble streets and planted 1,100 trees and shrubs and shoveled mounds of dirt along the former abandoned rail line.
“It’s just thrilling that we’re building this park and providing green space in a community that didn’t have any green space,” said Nancy Goldenberg, the vice president of planning and development and executive director of the Center City District Foundation.
The planting of more than 1,000 shrubs and trees was an co-effort between Center City District and Timberland, the outdoor lifestyle brand that has its own goal of planting 10 million trees by 2020. It decided to add Philly’s Rail Park to the list this year.
“They came down and visited and loved the project—it’s authentic and gritty and fits with their brand,” said Goldenberg.
One of today’s volunteers, Sarah McEneaney, was all smiles as she enthusiastically shoveled dirt on the site. “It’s amazing, it’s wonderful,” she said.
Fourteen years ago, McEneaney and John Struble started the grassroots campaign to turn the former Reading Rail Line into the three-mile Rail Park, a public space somewhat inspired by the High Line in New York City. After years of volunteer efforts, the Friends of the Rail Park partnered with the city and Center City District, which took over the capital campaign fundraising.
Phase 1 broke ground in November to much fanfare, and construction has forged ahead on the quarter-mile portion ever since.
The planting today marked another major milestone for McEneaney. “I love seeing so many people coming out. There’s a woman who just moved into the neighborhood a month ago and she saw people here and she came over and joined.”
Goldenberg says the Rail Park is still on track to open in early 2018. Meanwhile, fundraising is still underway to meet phase 1’s $10.3 million budget. She’s confident CCD will meet its goal soon, especially as the neighborhood continues to witness Phase 1 get to the finish line.
“I have no doubt that with the momentum we have, and now that people can see it happening, that we’re going to meet our goals soon,” she said while looking over the sea of hardhats and plants. “We’re almost there.”