City law on transferring parkland requires land swap; Temple offers cash instead
City Paper: Naked City Blog
December 19, 2012
By Samantha Melamed
Just last year, City Council passed legislation requiring anyone who wants a plot of city-owned parkland to offer up another piece of land to replace it, noting that "it is vital to the public interest to preserve and protect the City's public park and recreation spaces and ensure that future developments in the City do not result in any net loss of public park and recreation land." Pretty soon, we'll get the first chance to see if, when the right proposal comes along, that admirable principle gets flushed down the Schuylkill.
City Council restores cash for parks and rec, shelters
November 30, 2012
By Troy Graham
Philadelphia City Council approved a bill Thursday that would restore more than $37 million in funding for parks and recreation centers, domestic violence shelters, and other programs. The money comes from the city's fund balance, which was $49 million larger than anticipated at the end of the fiscal year that ended June 30. The bill would distribute the money across agencies, including $2.6 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation and $3 million for the Office of Supportive Housing for 100 additional domestic-abuse shelter beds.
At long last, Philly parks likely to get more money
Heard in the Hall
Friday, November 16, 2012
The city's parks department has operated with the same amount of money for upkeep and maintenance for decades. The result: Deteriorating and at times dangerous facilities with leaky roofs, broken swing sets and a host of other problems. Mayor Nutter had hoped to change that by increasing the Parks & Recreation Department's funding by $8 million yearly.
But then the recession hit, and those plans disappeared. Park advocates, led by Lauren Bornfriend, executive director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, weren't willing to take no for an answer.
City Council committee approves $2.6m hike in Parks and Recreation funding
By: Alex Wigglesworth
November 14th, 2012
A City Council committee this afternoon gave preliminary approval to legislation that would, in a rare mid-year budget adjustment, give an extra $2.675 million to the city Department of Parks and Recreation. "This is exactly the kind of investment that is critical to the health and safety of children and families in every neighborhood – as well as to Philadelphia’s future revitalization, economic development, environmental sustainability and competitiveness,” Parks Alliance Executive Director Lauren Bornfriend said in a statement. “We applaud those Council members who have stuck with this issue and are making good on their commitment to Parks and Recreation."
Compromise in Council sets 50-foot stream buffer citywide
November 14, 2012
By Jared Brey
In a Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday morning, 6th-District Councilman Bobby Henon put forward an amendment to Bill No. 120654 reflecting a compromise worked out between his office and a coalition of environmental and development groups over the last two weeks. The Committee accepted the amendments and recommended the bill favorably. The amended bill includes a citywide buffer of 50 feet, with certain marine-related uses allowed by right within the setback.
Francisville fears loss of garden as gentrification creeps
November 13, 2012
WINDING ROSES PARK in Francisville has for years been "a place of celebration." The lush "arts garden" includes mosaic tiles on stone tables and benches with rosebushes around it, along with an elegant mural on the wall with giant pink roses at the bottom and smaller ones that spiral up a brick trellis. "It's a beautiful oasis," Una Vee Bruce, a longtime Francisville community activist, said of the park. When it opened in the 1990s, neighbors celebrated birthdays and graduations there. Members of the old Moroccan street gang, grown now into middle age, began having annual Father's Day picnics there. And sometimes the garden, at Uber and Brown streets, was a place to remember a lost soul. "If someone in the neighborhood died and the family had a small house, weather permitting, we would have the repast and have food and stuff outside," said Bruce, 69. But Bruce said she and other Francisville residents "are fired up" after learning that one of the five lots that make up the park - which had been privately owned and neglected - was sold to a Huntingdon Valley developer who plans to build on it.
'Parks for cash' bill dead, Philly's green space is safe for now
By: Alex Wigglesworth
October 18, 2012
The Pennsylvania Senate recessed for the legislative season yesterday without voting on House Bill 2224, which park advocates have termed the "parks for cash bill" because it would have removed court oversight of the sale of some dedicated or donated parkland, paving the way for the city to sell green space for quick revenue. "Senators have made it clear they will not vote on any bills in the lame duck session, so the bill is dead," the Philadelphia Parks Alliance said in a statement on Thursday. "If legislators want to pursue this issue, then they will have to introduce a new bill in 2013."
Grappling with homeless presence in Louis I. Kahn Memorial Park
October 16, 2012
The lush garden and water fountain at Louis I. Kahn Memorial Park at 11th and Pine Streets offer a respite from the bustle of Philadelphia's Washington Square West neighborhood. But a look inside on a recent morning at the park showed a different sight. Three empty Rolling Rock pony bottles and a wine bottle were lined up neatly under a bench on the park's east side, and a half-eaten sandwich and open bag of cereal lay about its 11th Street entrance. Behind a fence, visitors sometimes set up sleeping quarters and leave behind their drug paraphernalia, evidence of the park's late-night populace - drug users and a growing number of the city's homeless who call it home at night.
Canine oasis in the city
October 15, 2012
Sadie Miller was ready for action. She was home most of the day Thursday, patiently waiting for Peter, the love of her life. An architect in Center City, he had been at work. When he finally came for her, Sadie could hardly contain herself. They went out for a walk, headed for Schuylkill River Park, and then - be still my heart. Paradise. A block-long expanse of synthetic grass, landscaped with trees and bushes along the river's edge. Within the 5-foot-high unleapable black iron fence, about 30 of her friends were already partying in the big-dog section. Kima, the high-strung, athletic Labrador/Boston terrier mix. Lola, the totally smokin' boxer. Educated poodles. Tennis-ball-OCD golden retrievers. The local slutt-mutt who, as usual, was sprawled on her back allowing a group sniff. And one valiant, three-legged greyhound. Peter unsnapped Sadie's leash, and she bolted, tearing across the turf to greet a newcomer, Stanley the Bernese mountain dog, who, despite his wobble-butt gait, was a heartthrob. "This is by far the nicest dog park in the city of Philadelphia," said Mark Focht, first deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department. It is not yet complete, said Focht (pronounced "Folk"), but the city decided to open it a few weeks ago to allow the neighbors and their dogs to enjoy it while final improvements are made.
Making it easier to sell parkland shouldn't be easy
October 6th, 2012
Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
A proposal before the Pennsylvania legislature that would remove court oversight in some instances when municipal officials try to sell little-used public lands is belatedly getting well-deserved scrutiny from parks and conservation groups. The Philadelphia Parks Alliance, representing hundreds of members, warns that the bill it's dubbed "cash for parks" would "make it easier for cash-strapped local governments to sell off land" that communities and park-friends groups worked hard to preserve and maintain. The Lancaster County Republican lawmaker who wrote the bill, which sailed through the House, says he's only trying to clean up legal language governing sales of property not dedicated as parks. Even so, the resulting confusion over the potential impact on parkland of Rep. Bryan Cutler's proposal has created its own mess.
'FDR Skatepark': A fast-paced slice of Philadelphia
October 05, 2012
FDR Skatepark: A Visual History. By Nicholas Orso, Phil Jackson, Scott Kmiec
Reviewed by Joelle Farrell
Under an I-95 overpass in South Philadelphia, local skateboarders have built a wild world for themselves. They've raised the scaffolding under the ramps, smoothed the concrete in the bowls, and painted and repainted the skate park with care. Buried in the shaded gravel lot at the back of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, the skate park remains an untamed patch of Philadelphia, where seemingly anything goes. The spirit preserved there is exhilarating and terrifying, just like the rugged obstacles that skaters rush toward, sometimes crashing in a heap, sometimes nailing a trick that draws shouts of approval from people standing on the walls. To capture FDR's spirit is no easy feat. In the book FDR Skatepark: A Visual History, three longtime skateboarders compiled more than 100 photos that take readers under the bridge to catch a glimpse of what goes on there. All profit from the book will go for maintaining and upgrading the skate park. (In addition to the usual online and bookstore sales, the volume is available at Exit Skate Shop, 825 N. Second St.) The authors interviewed park regulars and included their words in an appendix, but the real power of the book comes from its images.
Bill on selling off parks, though amended, rankles conservationists October 4th, 2012 Isaiah Thompson City Paper
There has been much ado in Pennsylvania recently over a bill in the General Assembly, characterized by supporters as a mild-mannered attempt to make it easier for municipalities to sell unused land — and by opponents as a gutting of the rights of citizens to protect their parks. At the crux of the issue is the elimination of a requirement that the sale of public land be first approved by an Orphan’s Court. The bill in question, HB 2224, allows municipalities to bypass the court if land was purchased (not donated) and is unencumbered by deed restrictions or convenants. The bill passed the state House last May with unanimity. So low was its profile that the groups now opposing it — a gaggle of parks groups, conservationists and hunting clubs — missed the affair entirely.
Letters: Turning around a troubled park
October 02, 2012
Kathryn Ott Lovell, Fairmount Park Conservancy
DAN GERINGER'S article "New Prey-Ground" (Sept. 25) raises some real and fair issues about Kensington's McPherson Square Park. I would like to add a ray of hope to the story. The Fairmount Park Conservancy believes that parks can be catalysts for positive change in our city - and that better parks make our individual lives healthier, our neighborhoods safer and our region more competitive. In fact, studies show that when a park is enhanced, crime and violence rates decrease, property values increase and the health of residents who live near the park is improved. Parks that were once liabilities for communities can become great assets if the right investments are made and if community members are engaged in the park's reclamation. We've seen this happen in other parks, like Hunting Park, and we believe it can happen at McPherson.
Parents wary as swings, slides come to drug-plagued Kensington park
Daily News Staff Writer
September 26, 2012
IN THE EARLY light of another Needle Park morning in Kensington, two men patrol their patches of ground on opposite sides of Indiana Avenue near F Street, picking up bloody syringes so that children won't step on them and get sick. Leslie Perez, a father of three who lives across Indiana Avenue from McPherson Square Park, picks up needles that were tossed over his side-yard fence the night before and drops them into a clear plastic bucket filled with water. Bloody bits of cotton float among the syringes in the cloudy water like dead sea creatures suspended in an aquarium of the damned. Across Indiana, 100 yards away, Luke Rebstock, a seasonal employee with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, walks the lawns around the public library in McPherson Square Park, wearing rubber gloves and disposing of needles in a biohazard container before children arrive to run around and play on the grass.
Ronnie Polaneczky: Bill would place parks at the whim of pols
September 25th, 2012
Philadelphia Daily News
Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist
LET ME TELL YOU about a bill that's been flying through Harrisburg with so little public input, it seems meant to screw us. House Bill 2224 would allow political leaders to get rid of certain types of public parks any time they felt it was for the best - and "best" could mean whatever they wanted it to mean. So they could sell off a park if, say, their borough needed cash to pay for a new firehouse. Or if a favorite developer needed a lucrative site to build townhouses. Or if they thought a strip mall would make better use of the land than a baseball diamond would. And no matter how we yelled or threatened to vote these people out of office if they took our parks, HB 2224 would let them do it anyway. Because the bill takes away the court oversight that currently protects these parks from political whim.
Pa. Senate's consideration of 'parks for cash bill' angers Philly conservationists
Metro Philadelphia City Desk
September 24th, 2012
The state Senate Appropriations Committee will today review House Bill 2224, which conservation advocates are calling the "parks for cash bill."
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance today sent a release urging senators to amend the legislation, whose "obscure content" they say they were not aware of when it passed the state House this past spring. "Parks and open space are essential to safe neighborhoods, sustainable communities, a vibrant city and a growing tax base," director Lauren Bornfriend said in a statement. "House Bill 2224 removes the protections we need to preserve these precious resources."
Editorial: Stop the violence at city rec centers
Philadelphia Daily News
September 14, 2012
PARKSIDE-Evans Recreation Center, Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, Wister Rec Center, Cobbs Creek, Shepard, Martin Luther King, Mander, Mill Creek. Belfield, Kingsessing rec centers...
This is not just a list of places where kids play ball, hang out or have fun. It's also a list of graveyards and shooting ranges where guns have wreaked their havoc, just since 2011. And it's not even a complete list. From late August through mid-September of this year, shots were fired, some fatally, in seven city playgrounds or rec centers. The latest shooting Thursday killed a 16-year-old boy at Nicetown Park. In a city where street violence is commonplace, maybe it's unfair to put special significance on the fact that some occurs in rec centers or playgrounds. But we don't buy it. We believe that a public place designed for use by children - that should provide young people a respite from urban life - should be considered different from a street. And it's time the city's leaders recognized this as a special problem, and not just the spillover from crime-ridden streets.
Council discusses rec center crime
Philadelphia Daily News
August 17, 2012
BY JAN RANSOM
CITY COUNCIL took a rare break Thursday from its summer recess to address violent crime in the city's parks and recreation centers after several recent shootings and the rape of a 12-year-old girl occurred in public spaces.
"Parks have become abandoned by people who are afraid to use them," said Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who is chairwoman of the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and who called for the committee hearing.
Quest begun after hoops standout's death brings defibrillators to Philadelphia rec centers
August 9, 2012
By Aaron Moselle
Danny Rumph's death could lead to saved lives on the Philadelphia hoops courts where he played the game he loved. Spurred by a foundation named after the late Parkway High basketball star, the Philadelphia Fire Department is donating defibrillators to the city's Department of Parks and Recreation to ensure that all 150 of its recreation centers will have the heatbeat-restoring device.
Opinions mixed on Phila.’s proposed $4 parking-ticket surcharge
August 8, 2012
by Miriam Hill and Amy Worden
A City Council-passed bill that would add $4 to the cost of a parking ticket in Philadelphia has yet to become law because it has been waiting for Mayor Nutter's signature since late June. Nutter has not yet signaled whether he will sign the legislation, but on Tuesday his spokesman, Mark McDonald, said the city solicitor does not believe it complies with state law on how revenue from the Philadelphia Parking Authority must be allocated.
"The bill would in fact redirect revenue in ways contrary to state law," McDonald said.
The law distributes some revenue to the PPA, some to the city, and the rest to the Philadelphia School District. The bill designates $2 of the additional revenue for upkeep of the city's parks and recreation centers. The other $2 would go to the Parking Authority to pay for additional enforcement of regulations for taxis and limousines.
In Tacony Creek Park, Jackie Olson, who coordinates Philly park volunteers, and Denis Mora of the Water Department survey charred trees in a field decimated by ATVs. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)
In Tacony Creek Park, paths of disrepair remain after ATV destruction
August 7, 2012
Philadelphia Daily News
By Dana DiFilippo
In Tacony Creek Park, red-tail hawks circle overhead while deer bound toward the tree line and the creek burbles and sparkles in the sun. At least that's what you see and hear on a weekday morning if you don't look too closely. But glance at the ground and you see tire tracks that have chewed paths down hillsides and churned the creek banks into a deep, fine silt that's prone to erosion. Visit on a weekend and you hear the roar of dozens of dirt bikes and ATVs that have chased the wildlife into hiding and prompted park neighbors to close their windows. Riding dirt bikes and ATVs in public parks — or anywhere in the city, except on private property with permission — is illegal. Yet Philadelphia's nearly 9,500 acres of parkland have proven an irresistible lure to hundreds of dirt bikers and ATV riders who see the meadows, hillsides and shallow creekbeds as their personal playground.
PA DCNR Joins in Dedication of Renovated North Philadelphia Park
August 3, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Marking its longstanding commitment to recreational and open space improvements throughout Philadelphia, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will join city representatives and neighborhood groups Saturday Aug. 4 in dedicating significant renovations at Fairhill Square Park in the city’s West Kensington section.
More Park Less Way
July 25, 2012
By Kellie Patrick Gates
Currently, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is mostly a string of popular cultural institutions that residents and tourists visit, then leave, said participants in a Tuesday night discussion on the parkway's future. But add a few cafes, markets and parks for people and pets, and the Ben Franklin Parkway could itself become a destination, they said. The comments were made at the second of four public input sessions hosted by the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, the Penn Project for Civic Engagement and PennPraxis to help the city create a plan with quick-hit projects designed to bring more people to the parkway, between the art museum and Logan Circle.
City parks need funds to avoid shabbiness
June 19th, 2012
Considering how little Philadelphia spends compared with other big cities, it's a wonder that much of Fairmount Park and other recreation facilities look as good they do. Park advocates attribute that to the "high-performing department" run by Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis, who's the first to acknowledge that his challenge in these years of flat funding has been to do more with less.
While the city has benefited from high-profile projects that were aided, in part, by private funds — including the recent transformation of Sister Cities Park on Logan Square, the addition of Café Cret along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and more — Philadelphia still trails most major cities in park spending. And it shows in the lack of upkeep on display at many aging facilities.
Upkeep in Philly parks falters with funding constraints
June 14, 2012
By Miriam Hill and INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Parks advocates say maintaining clean recreational facilities is not a city priority, but would decrease crime, obesity.
By: TOM GRALISH / Inquirer Staff Photographer
At Christy Recreation Center in West Philadelphia, the air-conditioning doesn't work, turning the gym into an unusable sauna in hot weather. Broken gym doors leave only one working exit, a potential fire hazard. Rain regularly floods the arts-and-crafts room, drips into light fixtures and swells ceiling panels until they're puffed and brown, like roasted marshmallows.
"This place is a wreck," said Thelma Jones-Benbow, president of Christy's advisory council.
Council Committee Approves $4 Surcharge For Parking Tickets
June 12, 2012
By Mike Dunn
A City Council committee has approved adding a $4 surcharge to all parking tickets, with some of the money potentially set aside for the city’s parks. Questions about the bill’s legality remain. The proposal from Councilman Mark Squilla would add a $4 surcharge to all parking tickets, with half of that going to the Department of Parks and Recreation. At the hearing, park advocates like Derek Freres of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance said they wouldn’t mind the increase.
U.S. Forest Service working with Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to study Philly’s "urban forest"
Flying Kite Media
June 5, 2012
One might not expect to hear the U.S. Forest Service and Philadelphia mentioned in the same sentence. Yet, the federal agency has recently taken an interest in studying the city’s tree life, and is working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and the Department of Parks and Recreation. Researchers have begun examining trees all across the city, in neighborhoods and in Fairmount and Pennypack Parks, and expect to work through the summer. This is all part of the agency’s new Philadelphia Field Station.
Housing to rise on church site, but Norris Square zoning squabble continues
June 1, 2012
By Valerie Russ and Daily News Staff Writer
ALL THAT IS left of St. Boniface Church, at Norris Square Park, is a jagged slab of wall. It stands like a lone sentry bearing raw, exposed wounds. What appears to be the frame for a stained-glass window hangs on — a reminder that this was once sacred space. The demolition seven months ago of the church, on Diamond and Hancock streets, devastated many in this largely Hispanic community, where some families are rearing a fourth generation.
Not the time to stop land preservation
Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
May 31, 2012
Gov. Corbett’s first budget took aim at a signature environmental effort launched by two of his Republican predecessors, so it probably should come as no surprise that this year’s austere spending plan from the tax-averse governor would siphon money from two other land-conservation programs.
If there’s any surprise it’s that this aspect of the governor’s budget has generated welcome and widespread push-back that is garnering key support from influential GOP House members in the Philadelphia suburbs — where sprawl development is a real threat.
Seeking cash for Parks & Rec Locals united at City Hall to demand a restoration of funds for parks and recreation facilities
First District Councilman Mark Squilla, at microphone, proposed a debated means to secure money for the City’s parks and recreation centers. The legislative newcomer has already helped to better the aesthetic status of Whitman’s Burke Playground. Photo by Greg Bezanis
South Philly Review
May. 24, 2012
By Joseph Myers
Though the City deemed May 12 to 19 “Love Your Park Week,” a dearth of monetary endearment for the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department prompted Lauren Bornfriend to announce May 16 that she and other residents have had their patience maxed out. Their City Hall gathering aimed to have Mayor Michael A. Nutter fulfill a 2008 pledge to use parking tax increases to help to swell his municipality’s parks and recreation budget to $56 million. “Our parks and recreation facilities have suffered decades of neglect and underfunding, and now, four years of broken promises,” Bornfriend, Philadelphia Parks Alliance Executive Director, said.
Green to blue: Parks & Recreation funding promises fall short
May 23, 2012
By Ed Weiner
The more things change…
We had reason to hope that, after years of neglect, the city’s parks had turned a significant corner in 2008 when the city (and its voters) saw the wisdom in combining the city’s parks and recreation departments. This fixed an illogical division between passive parkland, overseen by a commission unattached to city government, and recreational facilities, managed by a city department. The merger dissolved the Fairmount Park’s ruling board and created a new commission made up of people who actually had expertise or a stake in the parks. But more to the point, it came with a renewed sense of the importance of our parks and the role that they play in making the city great.
City’s Parks Alliance to council: ‘Show us the money’
Northeast Times Star
May 23, 2012
By Hayden Mitman
With parks playing such a crucial role in life in our neighborhoods, where's the money to help fund them? Where is the money that the city promised to the Parks and Recreation department? That’s what members of city council and the Philadelphia Parks Alliance asked during a gathering at City Hall on Wednesday, May 16. Four years ago, the city approved a 20 percent tax on parking charges for anyone using a garage or parking structure in Philadelphia.
Making parking tickets more expensive to fund Philadelphia parks NewsWorks
May 20, 2012
By Tom MacDonald
A Philadelphia City Councilman wants to raise the price of parking tickets to fund the city's department of parks and recreation. Councilman Mark Squilla says he's proposing adding a $2 surcharge to every parking ticket to help parks and recreation centers. "We sent it over to the administration to look at and we are having two conflicting legal opinions on it, some people say we can do it and some people say we
can't," said Squilla. Squilla recently outlined his plan to a group of park supporters, saying he started his career in public service by starting a non profit to help his neighborhood's rec center, and isn't giving up on his plan.
City Council, mayor spar over PPA ticket surcharge to fund parks system
May 16th 2012
By Alex Wigglesworth
Members of City Council joined the Philadelphia Parks Alliance today to call on Mayor Michael Nutter's administration to restore $8 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which would bring the operating budget to the $56 million approved by Nutter and City Council for fiscal year 2009. That year, parks advocates fought to pass Nutter's proposed Parking Tax, which was to serve as a dedicated revenue stream for the "chronically underfunded" department. But, though the tax was approved, the money went to other places when the economy took a turn for the
"We're looking at how do we begin to rededicate that stream of revenue," Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said. He, along with Council members Cindy Bass – Chair of the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs – Mark Squilla and Jim Kenney all spoke today the importance of the city parks system. "For me, at a minimum– a minimum – a promise was made and if a promise was made, we need to revisit that promise and start funding these parks," Johnson said.
Parks advocates seek more funds for Philly department
May 16, 2012
By Tom MacDonald
Supporters of parks and recreation in Philadelphia recruited some help to find additional city funding. Parks and recreation supporters are upset over the city's intention to use an increase in parking tax revenue for the general fund, instead of diverting a portion of it to the park system as was promised four years ago. "We are blessed with great leadership at our department of parks and recreation and a very high performing department but the task that we ask park and recreation staff to do every day is impossible without proper resources," says Lauren Bornfriend, executive director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance.
Turning pavement into green spaces around Philly
Daily News Editorial
May 10, 2012
Today, the school district makes an announcement that — at least for a moment — allows it to transcend the current messy and complicated conversation about its plans to cope with fiscal and systemic crises, and makes a positive step toward the future.
At the William Dick Elementary School in North Philadelphia, city and school bigwigs will announce a plan to replace acres of pavement with acres of green. The Dick School and the neighboring Hank Gathers Recreation Center will give the city more green space and its residents more room to breathe.
Walnut Hill: Park Advocates Ask City to Show Them the Money
April 30, 2012
By Colin Gerrity
Broken tree branches, cracked sidewalks, cluttered paths. These issues should be routine maintenance. But with the uncertainty of proper funding to the Parks and Recreation Department, these problems could continue to increase and spiral out of control. On April 17, members of the Friends of Clark Park joined with 250 enraged citizens inside City Council Chambers, demanding the restoration of $8 million of funding that was promised to the Department of Parks and Recreation by Mayor Michael Nutter. The Philadelphia Parks Alliance helped to bring advocates together, including representatives of the Friends of Clark Park, in an effort to reverse decades of underfunding, and systematic neglect toward the Parks and Recreation Department.
Parkside: Local businesses help community start to make a comeback
PlanPhilly & Philadelphia Neighborhoods
April 27, 2012
By Jade C. McKenzie and Connor Showalter
The future for West Parkside has improved in the past decade and the neighborhood has remained focused on keeping its local residents within the community, said Marjorie Ogilvie, president of the Business Association of West Parkside. The members of the Business Association of West Parkside recently came together on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, to commemorate the first African-American to play Major League Baseball back in 1947. Many of the members of the local association relayed a similar goal: to improve the economic landscape of West Parkside.
Where's the Park Money?
Philadelphia Daily Record
April 19th, 2012
City Council Chambers was alive Tuesday with the chanting of 250 citizens and 97 organizations calling for Council to “Restore 8 Million!” of promised funding for the Dept. of Parks & Recreation. The Philadelphia Parks Alliance brought together advocates from every corner of the city, united in their call to reverse decades of systemic underfunding and four years of broken promises to parks and recreation.
Council hears Parks & Recreation budget relief plea PlanPhilly
April 17, 2012
By JoAnn Greco
At Tuesday's public hearings for the 2013 Parks & Recreation budget, a cadre of activists wearing green shirts and brandishing signs were joined by a literal peanut (as in wee) gallery (as in balcony) of school kids who periodically chanted a clarion call of "Restore $8 million." The number referred to, roughly, Mayor Michael Nutter's proposed $47.8 million budget for the department, which is an $8.2 million decrease from the $56 million operating budget that the Administration proposed for FY 2009. That budget was subsequently cut, however, in response to the economic downturn and has never been restored. All told, the Department has received $43 million less than what it was originally promised in the FY 2009-2013 Five Year Plan, according to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance.
Council leaning towards more money for Philadelphia parks and recreation facilities
April 17, 2012
by: Tom MacDonald
Advocates for Philadelphia's recreation centers packed a budget hearing for the merged Parks and Recreation Department, but the turnout may not translate into a larger budget. Mike DiBerardinis, who heads up the merged department, told Councilwoman Blondell Renyolds that after about two years, the merged agency is finally truly together. "It's kind of the stuff I don't like to do. I like to do big stuff," DiBerardinis said. "But I really had people who forced me and the department to focus on paying attention to that. I think it's done really well and I think the staff feels generally
good about it." But park and recreation advocates turned out in force at the hearing, demanding a budget increase that had been
proposed four years ago but never came through. Councilman Jim Kenney was philosophical about such a change while the overall budget is tight. "If this is what is important to us as a 17-member body with at least 12 people supporting it, that's what we will do, but you have to be responsible to say where it is coming from." At this point there is no change to the department's budget.
Park Advocates Get Angry
April 18, 2012
by: Miriam Hill
ADVOCATES FOR Philadelphia parks told City Council Tuesday that they are tired of waiting for an additional $8 million a year they say Mayor Nutter promised when he took office. Chanting "Restore $8 million!" about 200 people protested in Council chambers as Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis testified about his department's budget. In an interview after the Council hearing, Lauren Bornfriend, executive director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, said that in 2008, parks advocates had supported a parking tax backed by Nutter that was supposed to be dedicated to funding parks and recreation centers.
Philadelphia Budget Hearing Focuses on Parks Department's Changing Fortunes
April 17, 2012
By Mike Dunn
Supporters of Philadelphia’s vast Fairmount Park system packed City Council chambers today, urging the lawmakers to restore park system funding that has been cut in recent years. Park advocates, including some schoolchildren, chanted in the Council chamber. They want councilmembers to restore what they say is $8 million in funding to the Fairmount Park system that has been cut in the past four years.
Council members including Cindy Bass voiced support: “The idea that we have cut eight million dollars from the budget, to me is just unacceptable,” she said. But city budget director Rebecca Rhynhart said that eight million more for the parks would mean cuts elsewhere.
Philadelphia residents rally to fund parks
The Daily Pennsylvanian
April 17, 2012
by Sunny Shen
Philadelphia residents are gathering support to increase funding for parks and recreation for the 2013 fiscal year. Yesterday morning at Philadelphia’s City Council budget meeting, a hearing was held to convince the city to increase funding for Philadelphia parks by $8 million. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis testified in front of City Council members while approximately 250 people gathered outside to demonstrate their support for the city’s parks, Philadelphia Parks Alliance
Executive Director Lauren Bornfriend said. “Parks in Philadelphia have been underfunded for a long time,” said Frank Chance, former president of Friends of Clark Park and associatedirector at Penn’s Center for East Asian Studies. According to Bornfriend and Chance, the hearing went well, with some of the council members being very receptive to the proposal. “People are very passionate about this issue,” Bornfriend said.
Where is Parks Money?
Philadelphia Inquirer Blog
APRIL 17, 2012
by: Miriam Hill
Advocates for Philadelphia parks told City Council Tuesday that they are tired of waiting for an additional $8 million a year theysay Mayor Nutter promised when he first took office.Chanting "Restore $8 million," about 200 of them sat in Councilchambers as Parks and Recreation Commissioner MichaelDiBerardinis testified about his department's budget.In an interview after the Council hearing, Lauren Bornfriend, executive director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, said that in 2008, parks advocates had supported a parking tax backed by Nutter that was supposed to be dedicated to funding parks and recreation centers. The parking tax passed, but then the economy crashed, and those revenues went to causes other than parks. Bornfriend says parks have suffered long enough. Many facilities have unusable bathrooms, leaky roofs and other problems, she said. "It's been four years," Bornfriend said. "Enough is enough."
Fairmount Park beats odds as world-renowned
March 28th 2012
By Brian Mccrone
Travel website Frommers yesterday placed Philadelphia among the world's best cities for public parks, noting the scope of Fairmount Park's 9,200 acres and the wonderfully interwoven history of old mansions and museums. "The parks are home to more than 200 historic buildings, America's oldest zoo, six golf courses, cycling trails, performance venues and an array of landscaped gardens and wooded areas," the website observed while ranking Philadelphia in its top 10 list. But ask park advocates much closer to home, like Lauren Bornfield of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, and they'll likely say the city's parks are like flowers that blossom without expensive fertilizer. "Imagine how extraordinary our system would be and what could be possible and how maintained it would be if it was adequately funded," said Bornfield, executive director of the alliance. "The tragedy is that it's not."
Council opens budget season with SW Phila. community meeting
March 15, 2012
By Troy Graham
For the first time in two years, City Council took its show on the road Wednesday night, kicking off the budget season with a community hearing in Southwest Philadelphia. Unlike in past years, there was no galvanizing issue or populist anger, but the standing-room crowd in the St. John's A.M.E. Church basement still brought plenty of passion to the microphone. The issues stretched across the range of citywide grievances - crime, jobs, blight, affordable housing, economic development, city services - and touched on some of the problems specific to the Southwest community, such as the historic tensions between African and Caribbean immigrants and their African American neighbors.
Philadelphia's City Planning Commission OKs a master plan for the Delaware riverfront
March 07, 2012
By Jennifer Lin
More than five years in the making, a new master plan for a six-mile stretch of the central Delaware River was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Despite objections from a group representing property owners, the eight commissioners adopted the development plan for the waterfront from Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia to Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond. "This area has languished for too long," said Commissioner Joseph Syrnick. "It needs a plan." The master plan calls for more low-rise buildings, a waterfront trail, better public access to the river, parks every half-mile, and extension of the city's street grid to the water's edge.
Where a great city meets the great outdoors
Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
March 06, 2012
With the smart goal of transforming the Delaware waterfront by reconnecting Philadelphia to the river, it's not a question of building new attractions to attract visitors. Rather, it's about opening up more routes for people to reach the river that's there.
So the progress reported last week toward creating a permanent network of trails and public spaces at the water's edge represents an important step forward.
The acquisition of four piers and five acres of land by the agency overseeing public waterfront development means it's no longer a question of whether but of when greater waterfront recreational options will arrive. And the eventual trail will connect to amenities like the recently transformed Race Street Pier.
Wissahickon Playground: It's not too late to save it
Philadelphia Daily News Featured Letter
March 1, 2012
What would happen if the city one day announced that it had decided to eliminate Mount Airy Playground and bring a developer in to build houses there? What would be the likely result if, without consulting any of the neighbors, they decided to demolish the Watertower Playground, in Chestnut Hill, and have a residential development built there? Can you imagine how those neighbors would react? The city would not get through the second sentence of such an announcement before the community had killed the project.
But exactly that is happening to us in Germantown. We are talking about the existing plan to eliminate the Wissahickon Playground - which has existed in one form or another for 100 years and which is used daily by children and parents in our community - and to build houses on the site. This plan was created by our former city councilwoman, Donna Reed Miller, behind closed doors.
Philadelphia's promising land along its hidden river
February 26, 2012
By Harris M. Steinberg executive director of PennPraxis of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is a city of hidden treasures. From the vast acreage of parkland that stretches deep into the Wissahickon Valley to the wooden paving blocks of her tiniest alleys, Philadelphia reveals herself in layers.
When the first Dutch settlers piloted their boats up the Schuylkill, they called it the "Hidden River." Unlike the broad and swiftly flowing Delaware, the tidal Schuylkill meanders gently, bending back and forth as it snakes its way from the Delaware to what is now the falls at the Art Museum. Traveling upstream you pass tank farms and auto graveyards, old cement works and the remnants of our 19th-century industrial prowess. There are also intermittent glimpses of a bucolic past, from Bartram's Garden to Woodland Cemetery's verdant slopes. It is an area of both mystery and promise.
Durability and style for a rec center
February 24, 2012
By Nathaniel Popkin
To get to the activity building at Pleasant Playground in East Mount Airy, invisible from the street, you have to trust your instincts. You cut past the tennis courts and the pool, along the outfield fence of the baseball diamond, and now you've walked the distance of an entire city block. Finally, there is a grove of trees, some old playground equipment, the basketball courts, and here it is, the low-slung early-1950s building painted Philadelphia blue and maize.
Ambition at Awbury: The old arboretum/estate in Germantown needs money and volunteers to reemerge grandly. Vision? There's plenty of that
February 24, 2012
By Virginia A. Smith
On 55 acres of historic landscape in the heart of urban Germantown, the yellow aconite is blooming, the snowdrops and purple crocuses are up, and you can sense the fragile promise of spring. That's a way of thinking about Awbury Arboretum, too, as it looks to reinvent itself - yet again. This grand old estate has new leadership and big plans: To stabilize finances, to work with the neighborhood and local schools, to tackle long-standing maintenance and organizational problems, and to reassert ownership of what Christopher R. van de Velde calls "our primary mission - the care and feeding of the landscape."
Railway tunnel plans will help the area bloom Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
February 17, 2012
There's something irresistibly fascinating about the contrast created when a flower blooms atop a pile of rubble. That may be why a proposal to build a park along three miles of abandoned railroad beds, alternately running over and under the ground, is so intriguing.
The beautiful-ugly of Philadelphia's industrial past has sent imaginations soaring around the train tracks, which run roughly from Girard Avenue east of Kelly Drive to about Ninth Street and Fairmount Avenue.
Paul vanMeter and a group of like-minded urban re-imaginers have organized themselves under the banner Viaductgreene.org, and are building support for the new park, which would showcase the city's former life as a vital manufacturing hub.
City: Let tree-dom ring
Philadelphia Daily News
February 14, 2012
by Dan Geringer
AT HIS inauguration party, Mayor Nutter rapped with The Roots, and today he's branching out to offer 4,000 free trees to Philadelphians in shade-challenged neighborhoods. You'd be a sap not to take him up on it. The city's Parks & Recreation Department kicks off its TreePhilly yard-tree giveaway today as part of the mayor's Greenworks Philadelphia goal of adding 300,000 trees to the city's existing 2.1 million by 2015 to increase the city's tree canopy to 30 percent by 2025.
Letters: High anxiety: Why we're not NYC
Philadephia Inquirer Letter
Councilman Jim Kenney
February 08, 2012
AFTER reading Valerie Russ' account of the defeat of the planned Chinatown/Reading Viaduct Neighborhood Improvement District, I thought about a tale of two cities. One is Philadelphia and the other, New York City. In New York, city leaders, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, prominent city council members, leaders in business and industry, and the community as a whole came together and, over a lengthy process, agreed on a plan to fund and create a fabulous urban park on a dilapidated, unused portion of an elevated rail line.
Parks and Rec takes roadshow to West Oak Lane
January 18, 2012
by Matt Golas
Wednesday night, in a continuing effort to bring its show on the road to different city neighborhoods, the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commission arrived at the Simons Recreation Center in West Oak Lane, where it played to a crowd of about 60 residents as well as representatives from City Council persons Darrell Clarke, Marian Tasco and David Oh and a staffer from state senator Dwight Evans' office.
It was the commission's 11th meeting and the first in 2012. Chair Nancy Goldenberg began the session by announcing that the group would be focusing on safety and security for the public portion of the meeting.
Goldenberg spoke fondly of the quality of the massive Simons Center. “It is quite impressive and a model to be emulated throughout city.”
Cick here to watch a video of the meeting from Plan Philly
Planning Commission approves Zoning Map Revision Plan
January 17, 2012
by Jared Brey
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission took a formal step toward implementing the new zoning code Tuesday afternoon when it approved the Zoning Map Revision Plan, presented by former Zoning Code Commission Director Eva Gladstein. The revision plan was actually created by the Zoning Code Commission last summer, after it submitted its Preliminary Report to City Council, but the Charter Amendment which created the ZCC required that the Planning Commission approve the plan. It did so unanimously on Tuesday.
At the outset of Tuesday’s meeting, Planning Commission Chair and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger announced that the staff of the ZCC, Gladstein and Natalie Shieh, would remain in the employ of the City. The Zoning Code Commission legally ceased to exist when it delivered its final report to City Council, on November 17 of last year. Gladstein was named deputy director for the Planning Commission; Shieh was named project manager in the Deputy Mayor’s office.
Street of Dreams Becomes Reality The Philadelphia Tribune
January 15th, 2012
by Stephanie Guerilus
The Martin Luther King Drive on the west side of the Schuylkill River was the result of the collaborative efforts of community activists, the NAACP and the lives his legacy inspired. The West River Drive Bridge is a steel girder bridge built in 1966 over the Schuylkill River on West River Drive. It was renamed in honor of King in 2005, following a request by former Mayor John Street in his budget and a groundswell of support for the measure.