Community responds to proposed velodrome at FDR Park

Project 250, a velodrome and mixed-use facility for the community that could be coming to FDR Park pending the approval of the City of Philadelphia, presented plans for the project at a meeting on Wednesday night.


At Wednesday’s meeting at the American Swedish Historical Museum, more than 150 neighbors and cyclists alike came together to hear the plans and voice their opinions on the project. While many back the project, some cyclists and neighbors voiced concerns about the location of the facility at FDR Park.

From The Inquirer:

“This is the elephant in the room. We are already impacted so severely,” argued Anna Maria Vona, who uses the park for morning walks. “I’m tired of outsiders coming into our community.”

The plans for the facility include the 6,000 seat bicycle racing track that would include community programming with a youth cycling program and other cycling-related clinics. In addition to the bike-related uses, the facility would also be used for various community activities with a recreation center and could also be used for concerts.
For this plan to be set into motion, the project must first be approved by city’s art and historical commissions, the National Park Service and state agencies, in accordance to the city’s Open Lands Protection law, since the facility would have to meet certain requirements to be built on the parkland at FDR Park.
Even if the facility is approved, it also must acquire the necessary funding for this $100 million project, which would come through if the facility, which would be located among the rest of the big-name stadiums in Philadelphia, can acquire a naming rights partner. According to PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa, Project 250’s Philip J. Senechal confirmed that the velodrome project wouldn’t be financially viable without naming rights.
Of the $100 million, an allocation of funds will be devoted to replacing the parkland they will be using at FDR Park elsewhere, in addition to the funding needed for the park improvements Project 250 has planned for the project.
According to PlanPhilly:
They have promised to spend $10 million – $17 million refurbishing the Olmsted Brothers designed park: $5 million – $7 million for a water treatment plant for the currently algae-riddled lakes, and $5 million -$10 million in other park improvements which will include draining and dredging the lakes, refurbishing the trails and other landscaping.
Do you think this facility would benefit the community?
–Taylor Farnsworth, @tfarnsworth3

10 thoughts on “Community responds to proposed velodrome at FDR Park

  • December 19, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I am a biker and this is a dumb idea. The only reason this should happen is if we are given the olympics

  • December 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

    This will be a dump within a year. All the trash from the area will be selling drugs and jumping normal people. Cant wait for the graffiti artwork as well. There are so many other things to improve in that park than a bike track that nobody will use.

  • December 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I can’t believe this city sometimes.

    Full disclosure, I wrote this story:

    This is a completely privately-funded project. FDR Park could use the help. There will be no parkland displaced. You want to have an honest debate about the City’s management of public lands? Cool. You want to throw asinine arguments out there about parking or traffic or unwanted non-South Philadelphians coming down to use the park (gasp!)? Not cool.

    Anna Maria Vona wrote a long-winded letter to the editor this week about how desperately FDR Park needs a dog park. Everyone has their selfish desires. And you know what? I bet Senechal and his team could work a little dog run into their design.

    EVERYTHING in that area is micro-managed by the SCSSD. There will never be a huge event at the velodrome while something else is going on at Citizens Bank or Wells Fargo or the Linc. Never. Also, there will never be a huge event because it’s maxed out at 6,000. Compare that to the 20 to 50,000 people that get drunk in parking lots before events and I think you’ll see a wild dichotomy.

    There are so many whiners who live in the SCSSD catchment. You bought a house by giant stadiums. Sure, XFinity LIVE! turned out to be kind of a douchebro magnet. But XFinity or a casino a velodrome is NOT. They’ll get a world-class rec center. They’ll get a revitalized and refurbished park.

    What the hell is there to hate about this project? Seriously, let’s hear it.

  • December 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I like the idea. Hate the location. Why not find a spot for it in the Navy Yard somewhere? Seems like this big elephant of a structure should not subtract from a park that provides crucial green space…

  • December 19, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Right on Bill C. FDR is an under utilized space and this could support the thriving cycling community in Philadelphia. City parks are for all citizens of the city, not just ones from the neighborhood.

  • December 20, 2014 at 11:44 am

    To place Vona’s quote in context, she was referring to the developers coming from the outside and not understanding the history of the site as FDR was also defended from having Citizens Bank Park placed within its confines back in the 90s and thanks to efforts by community members, this action was stopped.

    I am all for a velodrome but do not understand the placement within a city park given its original intentions as a green space. Many at the meeting also brought up wildlife conservation concerns with various wildlife and birds making FDR a home and/or stopping point for migration and would be disturbed by such construction in order to build this site. Also, if we set this kind of a precedent for private development on public land, what kind of an example does this set moving forward?

    It was disappointing to hear that other sites, including the former Naval Hospital, were not viable per the developers’ comments given the costs to remediate the property would eat into their profits (apparently the substructure was never removed) which seems like a pretty lame reason to disturb the green space of a park intended to serve one of the most densely populated areas of the city. In addition, the new park they would create was already earmarked to be developed as a park space, per the commissioners’ comments, so we technically would not be gaining any green space.

    As someone who frequents the park weekly, I see plenty of people enjoying the trails, park benches and fields and while FDR could use a makeover, this may not be the best approach in going forward.

    • December 29, 2014 at 1:10 am


  • December 24, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Private developers don’t serve the right to build on public green space. I’m a cyclist, and I think this is a stupid idea. Build the velodrome somewhere else, but leave the park alone or renovate it.

    • December 29, 2014 at 1:10 am


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