Restoration of Coatesville’s Palmer Park Promotes Natural Play, Environmental Stewardship

Kimberly McGuane

On a brisk spring day, a group of enthusiastic volunteers set about moving mulch and planting in an effort to complete the installation of a unique new nature and water playground at Palmer Park in Coatesville.

The water and play area is made possible through the Greening Coatesville initiative – a partnership of the City of Coatesville, Brandywine Health Foundation, and Natural Lands. Coatesville was one of three communities selected nationwide in 2017 to receive a $150,000 Building Better Communities Grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

“We recognize that in order for anything to qualify as a gift, it must be given, and as the summer is soon approaching, we’re eternally grateful for this gift and will ensure that it keeps on giving,” said Linda Lavender-Norris, Coatesville City Council president. “We salute the American Water Charitable Foundation, Brandywine Health Foundation, Natural Lands, City staff, and the many other partners involved for an awesome collaboration.”

“At American Water, we are committed to being a good corporate neighbor and contributing to the communities where our employees and our customers live, work, and play,” said Carrie Williams, president of the American Water Charitable Foundation. “There’s no better example of this commitment than helping to restore Palmer Park, and our support reflects how much we believe in enabling young people to interact with and appreciate our water resources.”

Palmer Park is a one-acre neighborhood park on the east end of Coatesville. Its new play space, which was designed with input from the community, is replacing a long-closed swimming pool with an innovative approach to promoting natural play and environmental stewardship.

The new play area includes a splash pad space with seven water features that feed into a short, man-made stream that leads to a shallow, rock-lined wading area. The top of the stream originates in a circular plaza surrounded by benches. Also, there are seven “nature play” features, including an embankment slide, a post hop, web climber, tension line, log balance, stump jump, and branch climber. The splash pad – sure to be a highlight for local children this summer – was turned on for the first time during the event and will open for the season on Memorial Day weekend.

“Introducing a nature and water playground in the City of Coatesville is a wonderful way to revitalize our parks while transforming the health of individuals and community,” said Vanessa Briggs, president and CEO of the Brandywine Health Foundation. “A healthy environment brings community together.”

Positive changes in urban parks and green spaces play a role in economic revitalization. Cities where parks, recreation, and trails play a vital role in the lives of their residents are vibrant places to live and are, therefore, attractive to businesses and residents.

“The revitalization of Palmer Park is proof that wonderful things can be accomplished when the community, businesses, and government come together,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. “This new playground offers an innovative opportunity for people to play and learn about important environmental issues that affect Coatesville. We are particularly grateful to the American Water Charitable Foundation, NRPA, Chester County, and our other supporters for encouraging environmental stewardship by investing in nature play.”

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