Venice Island

Venice Island is Opening!

Aerial rendering of Venice Island

After years of hard work and collaboration between the
Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreations, and the
Manayunk community, Venice Island will open to the public! Join us next week
on October 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM for the official opening and ribbon cutting
event to celebrate the completion of the Venice Island Performing Arts &
Recreation Center, the Philadelphia Water Department storage basin unit, and
green storm water infrastructure projects at the site. Guests will include Mayor
Michael Nutter, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. Deputy Mayor for Community and
Environmental Resources Michael DiBerardinis, Water Commissioner Howard
Neukrug, and Chief Cultural Officer Helen Haynes. There will be musical
entertainment, tours of the green infrastructure projects, performances at the
Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center, and outdoor,
site-specific art installations on display.

The Venice Island project is located between the Manayunk Canal
and the Schuylkill River, between the Lock and Cotton Street bridges in
Manayunk. The Philadelphia Water Department designed the project to include
tree trenches, a pump house with a green roof, and a subsurface basin that will
temporarily store diverted flow from the sanitary interceptor sewer during
intense rain storms. The basin capable of storing nearly four million gallons
of water – roughly 180 Septa buses – that are later pumped out and directed to
a treatment plant. The project not only protects and improves the health of the
Schuylkill River, but also includes a full-scale reconstruction of the
recreational facilities and community amenities, including a new
state-of-the-art recreation and performing arts facility, new athletic fields,
a children’s play area and spray park, and a new parking lot. Read more about this exciting project.

We hope to see you at the opening day!

Date: Tuesday, October 7th

Time: 11:00 AM

Location: 1 Cotton Street (in Manayunk), Philadelphia, PA 19127

Venice Island Enters Its Final Phase


For nearly two years, the Philadelphia Water Department has been working on Venice Island in Manayunk, the site of community amenities including basketball courts, a recreation center and parking. But these facilities have been demolished because this small strip of land between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal was chosen as the site for an underground storage basin capable of holding nearly four million gallons of stormwater. The project will reduce demands on existing stormwater infrastructure in the Manayunk area and in turn protect and improve the health of the Schuylkill River. In addition to managing stormwater, the project will transform a declining area into a renewed public space. Hidden City wrote a fantastic piece in April that digs deeply into the community aspects of this project.

Indeed, the Water Department emphasized community input in the planning process to develop a design that results in a full-scale reconstruction of the site’s parking and recreational facilities.  Once completed, the site will include a new performing arts center, a children’s play area, a renovated parking lot and athletic courts.  What’s more, the site will feature a number of green stormwater infrastructure tools including tree trenches and a green roof on the PWD pump house.  Furthermore, PWD and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation are working together to make improvements to the Manayunk Canal to restore water flow, which will include dredging and modification to the spillway at Flat Rock Dam. 

While two years may seem like a long time, PWD and its contractors are right on schedule and entering the last phase of work.  The basin is up and running and the upgraded recreational facilities and parking areas are scheduled to be fully completed by the beginning of next year. Stay tuned for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the public space in April 2014. For more details on Venice Island, head over to the project page.

Venice Island Groundbreaking

Photo: Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks

On Tuesday morning, Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials (pictured above) dug in and broke ground on Venice Island in Manayunk, the site of a $46 million project whose main component is a large underground storage basin that will prevent stormwater runoff from entering the Schuylkill River. While Venice Island's "Big Tank" is the star attraction from an infrastructure standpoint (the basin can store nearly 4 million gallons of water), the initiation of a host of other projects in and around Manayunk—from trail improvements and murals to stormwater management projects—were also celebrated.

From WHYY's NewsWorks article:

"Joanne Dahme, Public Affairs Manager for PWD, discussed the intent of the Venice Island project, saying that while the thrust of the project is 'all about protecting the water for residents of the city,' she was quick to point out potential for recreation at the site.

'There are incredible recreational opportunities here,' said Dahme, adding that she envisions the river becoming increasingly "fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.'"

In addition to the underground basin, the Philadelphia Water Department is also overseeing construction of a pump house on Venice Island with a green roof and is undertaking improvements to the Manayunk Canal. Stay tuned for more details on those projects. For additional information on Venice Island and to sign up for e-mail updates, visit our Venice Island page.

Venice Island Update

Image: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Click for full size map and PDF of trail closure details.

The construction of an underground storage basin at Venice Island is underway, and demolition of the existing recreation facilities is complete. Also, clearing and grubbing has wrapped up. This is the process of tagging existing trees and vegetation that will remain and removing vegetation that is not part of the final landscape plan. Many trees that existed on the island will remain a part of the completed landscape.

Next up: construction of the temporary parking lot where the recreation  facilities used to be. The construction of the parking lot should be complete by mid-December. PWD's contractors and the Manayunk Development Corporation will install signs to alert patrons of the changes in parking and traffic. We will be sure to provide firm dates as soon as we have them.

Stay tuned for more info on the Venice Island groundbreaking ceremony on November 1 at 10:30 a.m. Join Mayor Michael Nutter, Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug and others as we celebrate the beginning of the various projects going on in Manayunk.

Take note: The entire length of the Manayunk Canal Towpath will be closed to all trail users as Philadelphia Parks & Recreation perform necessary improvements. Work is scheduled from October to the end of December 2011.

Sign up here for email updates on Venice Island.

Wrecking The Rec Center

Video: NewsWorks

Even if you don't care about stormwater management (and it's our sworn duty to insist you really should), who doesn't like to watch stuff get wrecked? WHYY's NewsWorks posted a time-lapse video (above) of the demolition of the old Venice Island recreation center. It's all part of PWD's two-year, $40 million project to install a 4 million-gallon underground storage basin and revamp the area with a new performing arts space, children's play area (including a sprayground) and parking space. Read the accompanying NewsWorks article here.

Click here to learn more about the Venice Island project and check out our recent post on how the storage basin may have controlled flooding in Manayunk due to Hurricane Irene.

What Would Venice Island Do?

Rendering of Venice Island project in Manayunk

WHYY's NewsWorks asked the question: How would the new Venice Island water basin have fared in Hurricane Irene?

If you were tuned in to local TV news over the weekend, you probably saw the situation in Manayunk: flooded roads near Main Street and Shurs Lane. Could the underground storage basin on nearby Venice Island—construction is just underway—have helped alleviate the flooding?

"At 400 feet long, 75 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the new basin will catch and temporarily store diverted storm flow from the sanitary sewer running along the Manayunk Canal. But would the new tank have prevented or lessened the hurricane-level flooding that doused part of Main Street over the weekend?

The short answer, officials say: Probably.

'This is a big tank but this was also a pretty good storm -- about 5 ½ inches over a 24-hour period,' [PWD spokeswoman Joanne] Dahme said in an email Monday. 'Without the modeling to confirm, we believe it would have worked well in this storm as rainfall was fairly steady, dispersed over a long period of time.'"

Click here for more information on the Venice Island project and to sign up for email updates.

The Big News: Venice Island

Rendering of completed Venice Island project

Beginning next week, Manayunk's Venice Island—a strip of land situated between the Manayunk Canal and the Schuylkill River—will undergo a $46 million makeover that includes the construction of an underground storage basin, a new performing arts center, a children's play area and a new parking lot. This project is so big we've created our own blog category for it, as well as a web page with more details and updates as construction progresses. The underground basin will have the capacity to store four million gallons of water in an effort to protect and improve the health of the Schuylkill River. And, as reported in today's NewsWorks article, Venice Island's other new amenities will benefit the site as well:

"For decades, the Venice Island rec center was the site of community programs, summer swimming and nearly year-round athletics. A city photo from 1960 shows a tidy waterfront playground tucked between then-working railroad tracks and the Schuylkill, a lifetime away from the forbidding, overgrown place Venice Island became in recent years.

In its new incarnation, the hockey rink and 3,200 square-foot playground area at Venice Island will be replaced one-for-one. The pool is being scrapped in favor of a spray ground area, and the basketball courts will be enlarged slightly to make them NCAA-regulation sized.

The performing arts center will also serve as a home base for the Parks and Recreation Department's Young Performers Theater Camp, which currently operates out of rented space at the Annenberg Center, [PWD's Joanne] Dahme said.

'This is a tight little island, so we're trying to squeeze as much as we can on here,' she said."

Another rendering of the site after the jump.

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