Tacony Creek Park is a 300-acre urban park that runs the length of Tacony Creek—more than three miles through Cheltenham, Lawncrest, and Olney until it becomes Frankford Creek in Northeast Philadelphia.
The name Tacony is derived from the Lenape word “tekene,” meaning “woods” or “an uninhabited place.” Indeed, the park feels a world apart from the bustling communities around it. In fact, many of Tacony Creek Park’s neighbors don’t know it’s there or don’t take advantage of its proximity. Working with partners at the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Association (TTF) and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Natural Lands is engaging the community to address these concerns and to create a master plan for Tacony Creek Park.The master plan will address long-standing barriers to usage and park engagement and make recommendations for improvements that balance the needs of both people and ecology. The area surrounding Tacony Creek Park is a collection of neighborhoods. The communities within each neighborhood are diverse, speak different languages, and may use recreation spaces differently.
The master plan development process takes these cultural assets into account and focuses on inclusion and enhanced access for everyone. TTF works to connect neighbors with Tacony Creek Park both to improve their health and well-being and to foster a sense of park pride, encouraging care of the park and its ecological health. Says TTF Executive Director Julie Slavet, “Through our relationships with community members, we know that there are chronic challenges that discourage them from embracing the park. The park has such potential to be a valued asset in a part of Philadelphia that lacks green space.”“Our conservation services team has consulted with more than 140 municipalities to achieve their own open space goals,” said Peter Williamson, Natural Lands’ vice president of conservation services. “We’re excited to reengage with the City of Philadelphia as a partner in this important project.”Funding support for the Tacony Creek Park master plan is being provided by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the William Penn Foundation, and the Scattergood Foundation.