New and Improved Ralph Brooks Park Manages Stormwater with Green Tools

Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that will hold stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that holds stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

After three years of fundraising, planning, design, and construction, the Point Breeze community officially welcomed a tremendously improved Ralph Brooks Park at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The project was made possible through the collaboration of several city and state agencies, Pa. State Representative Jordan Harris, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the non-profit groups Urban Roots, Mural Arts, PHS, Philly Rising, 25th Century Foundation, Tasker Street Baptist Church and the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB), founded by Philadelphia Eagles player Connor Barwin.

That broad coalition allowed for a complete renovation of this public space, with improvements covering everything from new playground equipment and basketball courts to a community garden and green stormwater features that add to Philadelphia Water’s Green City, Clean Waters infrastructure.

The stormwater features include a rain garden at the southern end of the park, and an underground storage trench beneath the basketball courts along the western edge of the park. Combined, those green tools can manage over 16,000 gallons of stormwater—it would take 320 homes with rain barrels to store that much stormwater runoff—and the trees, shrubs and other plants add to the beauty of Ralph Brooks Park. While the ribbon cutting featured plants donated by Bartram’s Garden, the actual vegetation for the site will be planted in October, which will give the plants a better chance to become established and thrive.

“This partnership demonstrates that green infrastructure projects can manage stormwater and enhance community efforts to improve and beautify public spaces,” Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug said of the project.

More: See Photos From the Ralph Brooks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Other speakers at the event included Mayor Nutter and Barwin, who raised $170,000 for the project through a benefit concert. Philadelphia Water contributed approximately $152,000 to the project.

The Ralph Brooks renovations are part of Green City, Clean Waters’ Green Parks program, which works with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to leverage resources for park improvements and bring green stormwater tools to park sites.

Philadelphia Water is also working with partners from the Ralph Brooks project to bring similar improvements to Smith Playground in the West Passyunk neighborhood. Green infrastructure improvements at Smith are scheduled to begin construction next summer.