Sideline activity

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park has been home to more than picnickers, sunbathers and flocks of birds this summer.

Joining the regular park guests have been dump trucks, backhoes and bulldozers hauling tons of dirt and rocks.

FDR Park — or The Lakes, as it is commonly known — is the site of two projects. The first is taking place in a field just south of the east entrance off Pattison Avenue.

After several calls to the Fairmount Park Commission, and being bounced between various officials, no one could confirm the nature of the construction. However, Maria A. Mirarchi, president of the Friends of FDR Park, claimed the work is being done to improve water drainage in that section of the park.

"This way, when we have inclement weather, it won’t be as much of a problem as it was," Mirarchi said.

Earlier this week, large mounds of dirt remained in the area and heavy construction equipment was spreading a layer of rock.

"It is for the betterment of the park," Mirarchi said. "People in the community will really enjoy that."

A second crew of construction workers is concentrated closer to Interstate-95, where it is digging up the old swimming pool and restoring Meadow Lake to its original size in its place.

"With the proper funding," Mirarchi said, "restoring Meadow Lake will not be far away."

The work is apparently part of an effort by park officials to restore natural lands in the park. Other projects include the dredging of Edgewood Lake and recreating the wetlands behind the golf course. The dredging work has been delayed because it is the most expensive project, estimated to cost as much as $400,000.

More construction is taking place outside the park, across Pattison Avenue on the grounds of the Philadelphia Eagles practice facility.

Soon, the team’s players will be able to escape bad weather of all varieties in their new 70-yard indoor practice field located just west of the existing NovaCare Complex buildings.

The tent-like structure had been in the Eagles’ plans for the complex since the team broke ground on the 21.5-acre former Naval Hospital site in February 1999. Barbara Capozzi, president of the Packer Park Civic Association, said community meetings were held three years ago regarding the specifications of the structure.

Although the indoor field appears bigger than she envisioned it, Capozzi said it is an improvement to the neighborhood compared to the old abandoned Naval Hospital, which occupied the site until it was imploded in June 2001.

The 15-story hospital was built in 1935 and was considered a prime example of art-deco architecture. After it closed in 1995, conditions of the building and surrounding property steadily declined until the Eagles purchased the land.

The new practice field is positioned 210 feet from Hartranft Street and will be enclosed with a gray material. It is shaped like an airplane hangar and is 74 feet at its peak height — considerably smaller than the Naval Hospital was.

Capozzi, who has been persistent in ensuring the complex is acceptable to the residents of Packer Park, plans to discuss the landscaping surrounding the new dome with Eagles management.

"It will give me a good opportunity to go back and hit them for some more trees," she said.

The Eagles moved all the team’s operations into the 108,000-square-foot NovaCare Complex early last year, leaving behind its old executive offices and training facilities in Veterans Stadium.

Besides the indoor turf, the complex already features three outdoor grass fields that the team used all last season for practice. Inside the complex’s main building are the team executives’ and coaches’ offices, conference rooms and an auditorium/movie theater large enough to seat all of the Eagles’ employees and their families. An athletic wing attached to the main building houses locker rooms, workout equipment and other player-related areas.

The Eagles plan to have the new indoor facility ready for use this season before the weather gets too cold to practice outside. The old practice bubble, east of Broad Street on Packer Avenue, where the team once held its indoor practices, already has been dismantled.