Construction at Glen Foerd mansion close to completion

Improvements almost are complete at one city-owned park facility in East Torresdale and will soon be under way at another, according to guest speakers at the May 9 meeting of the East Torresdale Civic Association.

Meg Sharp Walton, the recently appointed executive director of Glen Foerd on the Delaware, reported to residents that the historic mansion’s four-month long roof replacement project was nearing completion.

To celebrate the project, Glen Foerd will host an art exhibition and gallery talk on Thursday, May 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Regional artists, including Dr. Richard Goldberg and Donald Meyer, will exhibit their work on the first floor. Their paintings will be available for purchase. In addition, Meyer will discuss the mansion’s in-house collection of artwork.

According to Walton, workers re-installed the permanent Glen Foerd collection into the second-floor gallery late last month. Florence Tonner, the last private resident of the riverfront estate, amassed the collection, which features paintings by notable impressionists including Rembrandt and Monet.

The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation now owns the site and leases it for a nominal annual fee to the non-profit Glen Foerd Conservation Corporation.

The roof restoration initiative began more than six years ago under Walton’s predecessor, Patrick Hotard, who left the Delaware River waterfront estate late last year. The Conservation Corporation, through its Structures and Security Committee, raised about $800,000 in private and public donations to pay for the project.

In an unrelated project, East Torresdale’s Pleasant Hill Park will get a facelift.

Barbara McCabe, parks coordinator for the Department of Parks and Recreation, reported to residents that the man-made ponds in Pleasant Hill known locally as the “fish hatcheries” would be emptied, cleaned and rebuilt in the coming months.

Tons of silt that have amassed inside the ponds over decades of neglect will be removed and taken from the park or re-used on site, if needed, McCabe said. An aeration system will be installed in the ponds, as will plants that will act as a filter to block new silt from lining the pond floors.

The work will also include new benches, walkways and fencing around the ponds, which are intended for use by juveniles for fishing.

According to McCabe, the pond project has been approved by the administration and will soon be placed for bid. After that process, work should begin within 10 to 12 weeks.

The project is one phase of a larger, long-term improvement strategy for Pleasant Hill Park. Previously, the park’s boat ramp and parking areas were reconfigured and repaved with new walkways, benches, lighting and drainage systems. A child playground also has been installed in the park.

No funding has been committed to future work in the park, beyond the pond project, McCabe said.

• The next East Torresdale Civic Association meeting will be on Monday, June 13, at 7 p.m., at Liberty Evangelical Free Church, Linden Avenue and Milnor Street.

Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com