PORTSMOUTH -- One of the most polluted sites in the country is being transformed into a public park.
Portsmouth held a groundbreaking Thursday morning for Paradise Creek Nature Park which will be the second largest public park in the city.
The 40-acre urban nature park off Victory Blvd. will add wetlands to the Elizabeth River system.
The project was started by The Elizabeth River Project and includes the Virginia Port Authority and the City of Portsmouth.
Phase I began in January when the Virginia Port Authority began excavating the 11 acres of new wetlands. This phase will be completed later this year.
Phase II of the 14 million dollar project is scheduled for completion in 2015.
Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director of the Elizabeth River Foundation, said the project is a dramatic turnaround for the site along the Southern Branch.
"We've worked with the Navy, every industry, and every person who lives on Paradise Creek for the last decade. We've worked on about 20 projects and this will be the crown jewel," said Jackson.
She said parkland has many benefits for the public, including calming crime, and helping children concentrate.
"This wetlands wasn't here before, and these mature trees don't exist much on the Elizabeth River. The public will be able to hike for two miles here and really be able to enjoy the restoration of the Elizabeth River," said Jackson.
For more information on the park, click here.