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September 29, 2020

Philly group gets state grant to transform troubled Fairhill railyard into city park

Project will expand on Gurney Street Trail

Public Spaces Parks
Gurney Street Trail Source/

A $500,000 state grant will help Philadelphia's Fairhill neighborhood build a park along an old railyard that once plagued the area with drug activity.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has awarded a $500,000 grant to support the construction of a trail park in the Fairhill section of the Philadelphia, revitalizing a railyard area plagued by drug use in recent years.

The grant, awarded to the Hispanic Association of Contractors & Enterprises, will help create a 1.3-acre park that includes a playground, amphitheater with seating, accessible walkways, a patio, a food truck area and comfort and concession facilities, officials said Tuesday.

"DCNR is happy to assist with transformation of this former railyard in the Fairhill neighborhood into a new park and trailhead, because close-to-home opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are important factors in quality of life for residents, and attracting and keeping businesses, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.

The project will expand on the existing one-block trail along Gurney Street in Fairhill, where the old Conrail tracks had become a dangerous open-air drug market. Conrail completed a $1.8 million site clean-up in 2017, paving the way for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to work toward the broader Richmond Industrial Trail, which ultimately will connect to The Circuit Trails.

Community advocates have been pushing to extend the Gurney Street Trail to North American Street, just beyond the infamous area beneath Mascher Street that had become known as "El Campamiento."

"I am thrilled that the commonwealth, through this substantial grant funding, is supporting the community’s hard work on this project, led by the Hispanic Association of Contractors & Enterprises," state Sen. Christine Tartaglione said. "The Trail Park will improve the quality of life for local children, their parents and senior citizens with its emphasis on inclusivity and access for all. And it will help to strengthen the bonds of our community by bringing families closer together."