WILMINGTON, N.C. — North Waterfront Park in Wilmington is the first park outside of New York City to be named a WEDG verified park. The park itself is still under construction, but the designs were enough to earn the verification. WEDG or Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines focus on the park's ability to be resilient to threats like coastal storms and erosion, along with the use of native ecology throughout the site.

“One of the strongest tools in design is the visual that is presented to the public, and to be able to present it in such a way that it's beauty and function will get people exited about the ecology of their region,” said Natalie Carmen, a project engineer with Stewart, a Raleigh based design and engineering firm.

She says the park was designed completely unaware of the possible WEDG verification. All of the features in the park were already in the designs regardless of being recognized.

“Caring for the environment is one of our company values so we bring that to all projects that we work on,” says Carmen.

The future park sits on a former industrial site that was labeled with possible ground pollution. The teams of people working on the project wanted to transform the site into something enjoyable and functional for the community while also honoring the history of the property.

“The long history of Wilmington being a port city and the rail yard that used to be in this location is both a complication and also an opportunity to celebrate,” says Carmen.

The park will be 6.6 acres of green space on the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington, but one of the biggest concerns was working on the waterfront edge of the park to bring the river's ecology into the site while also protecting the shoreline.

“It's been a complicated puzzle to solve and it was exciting to find a solution that met all of the goals for the project,” says Carmen.

When it opens the park will feature a concert venue, trails, gardens, playground, cafe and a splash pad. She expects construction to be completed by June of 2021 and says they've managed to stay on schedule even during the pandemic.