A gazebo in FDR Park beside a river.
Photo courtesy of Fairmount Park Conservancy.

Fairmount Park Conversancy awarded $10 million grant to transform FDR Park

The funding from the William Penn Foundation will allow the nonprofit to build a more sustainable, climate-resilient future in the area.


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On May 23, 2023, the nonprofit Fairmount Park Conservancy announced that they had been awarded a $10 million grant from the William Penn Foundation that would allow them to proceed with their FDR Park Plan, which the Conservancy has partnered with the City of Philadelphia to enact.

Released in 2019, the FDR Park Plan seeks to address the challenges brought by climate change and the unmet needs in South Philadelphia for active and passive recreation space.

Additionally, the grant will allow the Conservancy to pursue multiple phases of the FDR Park Plan, including creating a sustainable future for Olmsted Park, and for the "Nature Phase" of the FDR Park Plan, a four-year, $45 million plan that will impact areas including Shedbrook Creek, the Sedge Meadow Wetland, the Forested Wetland, and the Wildflower Meadow.

“The Conservancy is committed to delivering the community’s vision to build a future-proof, flood-resistant FDR Park that serves the needs of South Philadelphia youth and families,” said Maura McCarthy, Ph.D., CEO of Fairmount Park Conservancy, in a statement. 

“In collaboration with community leaders, volunteers, and a network of partners who use this park every day, we’re committed to realizing FDR’s long-term ecological and recreational value. FDR Park must remain equitable and accessible for all who use it, so that every stakeholder — from youth sports leagues to hikers and naturalists to vendors at the Southeast Asian Market — can benefit from the park’s hundreds of acres of green space and natural assets,” she continued.

Through 2026, projects undertaken at FDR Park will include:

  • Completing the design and engineering work of the Plan's Nature Phase.
  • Restoration and establishment of unfragmented wetlands, along with thousands of feet of streams.
  • Continuous community engagement and keeping the public up-to-date with the FDR Park Plan's status.
  • Improving and expanding public environmental education programming available in FDR Park.
  • Hiring a Parkforce Manager to be responsible for the park's maintenance by connecting them with existing workforce development opportunities.
  • Create an on-site headquarters to run operations and maintenance.
  • Create an annual park maintenance program to support the Plan's improvements.

“Thanks to this tremendous commitment of support from the William Penn Foundation, FDR Park will be able to serve so many more Philadelphians for many years into the future,” said outgoing Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell

“FDR Park is a jewel of the Philadelphia parks system, and thanks to the vision put forward through this community-based planning process, FDR is poised to be a model for environmental restoration that is well used and well loved by a diverse cross section of Philadelphians,” she concluded.


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