A long-awaited project is finally breaking ground in Gowanus, where dlandstudio’s Sponge Park will soon replace the existing canal-front with a futuristic park that serves an important purpose: absorbing stormwater and helping plants filter it into the canal. The project had been delayed due to lack of funding, but the design studio has finally managed to raise the necessary $1.5 million to build this part of the park. The Gowanus Canal was added as a Superfund site in 2010 after the Environmental Protection Agency determined significant levels of contamination were collecting there from stormwater runoff and sewage outflows. This overhaul of the canal banks and the installation of the Sponge Park will serve as a clean-up effort in an attempt to resolve or at least reduce future contamination.

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Workers are already digging at Second Street on the western side of the canal, working on the removal of five feet of toxic soil that will be shipped off-site to be tested for toxic chemicals. Clean, engineered soil will be brought in to replace it, and will act as a filter for runoff and stormwater before it travels into the Superfund site. The designers at dlandstudio have coordinated the renovation of the canal banks to create a natural filtration system in the soil, while creating a pleasant place for pedestrians to enjoy.

Related: GrowOnUs floating water-filtering garden pops up on the Gowanus Canal

The park is slated to consume 18,000 square feet in all, much of which will be populated by plant life. Although the plants won’t spring up until, well, springtime, project leaders say the metal walkways will be installed and open for use within the next 90 days. In the future, the design firm has proposed the installation of floating wetlands that would further “clean” the canal water by breaking down heavy metals and toxins from a variety of sources.

Considering that the project has been stalled for the past few years, local residents will likely be excited to see some activity finally taking place, even if it will be some time before the park is completed.

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Via Curbed

Images via dlandstudio