Tucked in the hills in Fairmont Park near 33rd & Diamond above Kelly Drive, is a 37-acre man-made lake, a reservoir in Strawberry Mansion. Two years ago we wrote about plans to animate the land around that reservoir into an eco-friendly facility serving as a gateway between urban life and nature.
The vision was for the Discovery Center, an urban bird sanctuary and leadership development center. That vision came closer to becoming a reality several weeks ago when it was announced as one of five recipients of part of an $11M Knight Foundation grant towards projects to help transform civic spaces in Philly, through the Reimaging our Civic Commons initiative.
In addition to providing a doorway to acres of untapped open space, the Discovery Center will represent a partnership between two local groups, The National Audubon Society (Audubon PA), and Outward Bound. The center will offer programming aimed at connecting residents with nature. This area serves as a stopping point for migratory birds, and once built, the facility will serve as a base of operations for the Philadelphia Outward Bound School (POBS), a chartered affiliate of the nation’s preeminent provider of active learning expeditions. Outward Bound has long-established programs in over 40 schools in the Philadelphia region and serves more than 4,000 students annually.
The recent Knight Foundation grant will help move along the process of meeting fundraising goals necessary before workers can break ground here. Once completed, it will be an another element in Philadelphia's green resurgence that has swept across the city over the past few years. In the meantime, nearby there's the Sedgley Woods disc golf course as well as the driving range if you're looking for additional ways to get outside in Fairmount Park as the weather continues to warm up this spring.