Philadelphia Daily News - Posted Mon, Dec 11, 2006
Letters | Report on parks WAS distributed
THERE was clearly no intention to slight two members of City Council who have led recent efforts to improve Philadelphia's park system, as your editorial of Dec. 6 suggested.
A check with staff and the Parks Alliance's Web consultant verifies that electronic copies of the report titled "A Revival Plan for Fairmount Park" were sent more than a week ago to all members of Council as well as many individuals and organizations concerned deeply with the park system's future.
We look forward in the days ahead to working with Council members Clarke and Reynolds Brown and all their colleagues to revive one of Philadelphia's most important but long-neglected assets.
Graham S. Finney
Park Reform Task Force, Philadelphia
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted Wed, Dec 6, 2006
IS PARK GROUP LOST IN WOODS?
REPORT SNUB MAY BLOW CHANCE FOR CHANGE
WAS IT IGNORANCE or arrogance on the part of a park-reform task force that explains why, after two years of working with City Council members Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown on fixing the Fairmount Park system - a period during which the task force asked for and got a number of delays - it released a report on its recommendations... and neglected to send it to the Council members? READ MORE. . .
Skyline Online Blog - Posted Tue, Oct 23 & 24, 2006
More Parking in the Park
By Inga Saffron (Click here for the Changing Skyline blog)
The Fairmount Park Commission congratulated itself last night for holding a public hearing on a plan to insert more parking in the recreation space behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art - and then proceeded to vote exactly as it had intended before anyone uttered a word. The commission unanimously approved Olin Partnership's conceptual design, which calls for inserting 27 new parking space on the grassy riverbank between Lloyd Hall and the Italian Fountain. Those spaces, which will utilize an environmentally friendly, porous paving stone, are a supplement to a 440-car garage (see glass elevator tower, right) that the commission approved in June - without benefit of a similar public hearing - for the hillside just south of the Azalea Garden. The good part is that much of the garage will be camouflaged with greenery and topped with a sculpture garden. READ MORE . . .
Northeast Times & Home News | Posted October 12, 2006
An update on Fairmount Park reform
By William Kenny
Times Staff Writer
Outdoors enthusiasts who last year feared that a City Council-proposed merger between the city?s Recreation Department and Fairmount Park Commission would leave parkland open to potential sale or redevelopment need not worry any longer.
The merger has been taken off the table for the foreseeable future, as have other park commission reorganization strategies.
While that may come as good news to residents who don?t necessarily trust City Hall to properly manage one of Philadelphia?s greatest public assets, its 9,200-acre park system, there is a downside. READ MORE . . .
Germantown Courier - Posted on Thu, Sept. 28, 2006
Park governance won't change on ballot
Charing A. Ball , Staff Writer
After months of fine-tuning legislation that would revamp the Fairmount Park system, City Councilman Darrell Clarke tabled a city charter change bill last week after growing frustration over what reform should look like.
Councilman Clarke was frustrated after learning that his legislation did not have the votes needed to pass. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, would have put a question on the November ballot asking voters whether or not there should be a governance change to allow the Mayor, City Council, and a nominating panel to appoint park commissioners instead of the Board of Common Pleas Judges. READ MORE . . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Fri, Sep. 22, 2006
How to run the parks better
By PHILIP PRICE JR.
CITY Council has the chance to adequately fund Fairmount Park and recommend a city charter amendment that would change the way Fairmount Park commissioners are chosen. Both proposals should be enacted together.
If properly crafted, these changes would improve Philadelphia's most important physical asset.
Annual Operating Funds: An advisory report of April 2006, "The Future of Fairmount Park," recommends ways to improve the park. A committee co-chaired by Robert Nix, president of the park commission, and Zachary Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy, came up with options for improvement (see it at www.fairmount-park.org). Two of them could help solve the short-term fiscal needs of Fairmount Park. A third suggests a way to support all parks within the region. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Fri, Sep. 22, 2006
Clarke ends quest to change park panel
By MARK McDONALD
It's a rare day when a politician throws in the towel, admits defeat and says he's "frustrated, stunned and befuddled."
But City Councilman Darrell Clarke did just that yesterday when it became clear that he lacked the votes for a city-charter ballot initiative that would change how Fairmount Park commissioners are selected. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Metro - Posted on Tues, Sept. 22, 2006
Council disgusted over Fairmount Park status
By Josh Cornfield / Metro Philadelphia
CITY HALL - Park reform advocates were successful yesterday in stopping a ballot measure that would have changed the Fairmount Park Commission, but that they didn?t believe went far enough to fix the struggling agency.
After working with City Council members Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown for the last year and a half on a bill that would overhaul how the 15-member commission is chosen, advocates said that any measure that stops short of fixing funding problems isn't good enough.
"I think that this is a really important issue and it will be really best for the parks to consider both governance and funding at the same time," said Lauren Bornfriend, head of the Parks Alliance, and a member of the task force. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Thu, Sep. 21, 2006
Editorial | Fairmount Park Proposal
Figure out the dollars first
City Council members Darrell L. Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown this morning may turn to their colleagues for a vote of support on a plan to revamp how Philadelphia's Fairmount Park is run.
First, though, they should look around the gallery in Council's chambers - where they just might notice that few, if any, are cheering.
A broad-based coalition of park advocates has decided to oppose the efforts of Clarke and Brown to put an inadequate City Charter change before voters in November.
Those advocates are the foot soldiers who will be needed to rally voters for any fundamental change in how Fairmount Park is run. How could it possibly make sense to go to the electorate with a charter ballot question without these advocates rallying the "yes" votes?
Which isn't to say the charter proposal is terrible, but it's missing some ingredients. READ MORE. . .
Metro Philadelphia - Posted Thu, Sept. 21, 2006
City Council to decide Park Commission Vote
CITY HALL - City Council will vote today on letting voters decide in November's election whether to change how the beleaguered Fairmount Park Commission is appointed.
The ordinance would have the 15-member board chosen by a nominating committee with mayoral and Council approval, rather than the courts. Not everyone wants the bill to move forward, though. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Thu, Sep. 21, 2006
DON'T STARVE PARKS: REFORM NOW
COUNCIL HAS CHANCE TO MAKE POSITIVE CHANGE
LET'S BE clear: The city's park system has been starved of funding.
Imagine: in 1974, the Fairmount Park operating budget was $11 million.
In 2001, nearly 30 years later, it had risen... by about $2 million dollars, to $13 million. Since then, it has seen slight increases, although the 2007 budget figure is down to below $13 million.
The financial neglect shows. How could it not? For one thing, the budget puts the staff-to-acreage ratio in the park at one staff member per 40 acres. As a basis of comparison, consider that Chicago has one employee for every 2.3 acres of parkland. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Thu, Sep. 14, 2006
KEEP WINDOW OPEN ON FAIRMOUNT PARK CHANGE
REFORM LEGISLATION IS TOO IMPORTANT TO DELAY AGAIN
FIFTEEN months ago, when Council members Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown first proposed a charter change to create a new governing body for the Fairmount Park system, they opened a window that had been stuck shut for decades.
In the process, they let light and air into a corner of the city that sorely needed it. The city's 9,200-acre park system has been virtually frozen at 30-year-old funding levels, in part because of an antiquated and ineffective system of governance. Commissioners overseeing the parks are picked in secret based on political qualifications. Despite some accomplishments, always slow in coming, they've distinguished themselves for decades primarily by their heartfelt attention to minutia. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Fri, Sep. 01, 2006
Earni Young | Fairmount Park water-park plan: OK, or all wet?
A PHILADELPHIA municipal-bond financier wants to make a splash in Fairmount Park - literally.
J.P. McGowan, with the help of Councilman James Kenney, is floating the idea of building a 12-acre water park around Kelly Pool, near Memorial Hall.
According to McGowan spokesman Denis Carlson, what they have in mind is a cross between New Jersey's Wild Water Kingdom and Bahama Beach, an indoor water park in Dallas.
"There is a lot of interest. Not everyone has the time or money to go down the shore," Carlson said. "Inner-city water parks are going to start booming." READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Tue, Jul. 25, 2006
Park panel backs leasing land to cancer center
By Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer
The Fairmount Park Commission yesterday approved a lease agreement that would cede more than 19 acres of Burholme Park for the expansion of the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Commission approval of the 80-year lease agreement - including renewal options - marked a major hurdle for the Fox Chase plans. The center still must obtain City Council's approval. READ MORE. . .
Germantown Courier - Posted Thu, June 22, 2006
City Council future of park system governance
By: Charing A. Ball, Staff Writer
One year after the first round of public hearings to discuss the controversial park reform bill which would merge the Fairmount Park Commission with the Department of Recreation, City Council continued the debate last week, this time pushing for a last drastic change to the park system.
Community and civic groups conveyed at Council hearings last Wednesday, June 14, to throw their support behind a resolution and an ordinance, both introduced by Councilpersons Blondell Reynolds-Brown and Darrell Clarke, which would revise how park commissioners are selected and create a Park and Recreation Funding Task Force. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Thu, Jun. 15, 2006
Round 2 for Fairmount Park Commission reform bill
By SANDRA SHEA
Almost a year to the day that a Fairmount Park reform bill was introduced in City Council, the bill got another public hearing yesterday, as well as further amendments, and was then recessed until September.
The bill, which would provide for a charter change necessary to alter the way the Fairmount Park Commission is appointed, was originally introduced last June by Council members Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown. The bill came on the heels of a strategic plan for the parks that uncovered a system beset by problems. READ MORE. . .
KYW 1060 - Posted Wed, Jun 14, 2006
City Council Regroups on Takeover of Fairmount Park Commission
by KYW's Mike Dunn
City Council was continuing its debate Wednesday on the future of the Fairmount Park Commission -- but any vote on drastic changes won?t come until the fall.
Councilmembers Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown had originally called for the abolition of the Fairmount Park Commission, with its duties consolidation into the city's recreation department. READ MORE. . .
WHYY - Posted on Wed, Jun 14, 2006
Philadelphia City Council holds hearings this morning on a plan to change the way the Fairmount Park Commission operates. Proponents of the change say it will allow the 9200-acre park system to raise more money and operate more efficiently.
WHYY's Brad Linder reports.
Currently, a board of judges selects 16 park commissioners. Critics say that system lacks transparency, since commissioners are chosen behind closed doors.
City Council members Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown have been working to change the system. They've introduced a bill that would allow the mayor, City Council, and community organizations to set up a nominating panel to recommend commissioners to the Mayor. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Tue, Jun. 13, 2006
Sandra Shea | Fairmount Park lacks leadership
Entrenched system must be changed
I'M NOT A hugger. I don't mind hugging, but when dealing with people I don't know well, I prefer social formalities like handshakes.
But the other night, I wanted to hug this whole city.
I was overcome with this hug-bug at a screening of a movie called "Edens Lost & Found," a PBS special that profiles four cities around the country which are improving themselves by adding beauty and green to the landscape. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Sat, May. 27, 2006
Editorial | Fairmount Park
Mapping a bright future
It's springtime, when a city official's thoughts once again turn to love - that is, apparently, love of Philadelphia's tarnished jewel, the 9,200-acre Fairmount Park.
A year after City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke and a colleague suggested pruning the Fairmount Park Commission, Clarke is back with a better, but still flawed, proposal to improve how the park governing board's members are chosen. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Fri, May. 26, 2006
Bill would zap Park Commission
Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced a bill yesterday that would effectively dissolve the Fairmount Park Commission by changing the way the commissioners are appointed.
Currently, the Board of Judges appoints 10 of the 16 commission members.
Clarke's bill proposes a city charter change calling for 15 commission members who would be appointed by the mayor. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Thurs, April 6, 2006
How to clean up our parks
By Lauren Bornfriend
It's the woods and trails, the quiet and the sounds that amaze and inspire me. Along with the lone hikers and runners, I pass all sorts of families, some with dogs, some with strollers, others with clumps of teenagers, representing every race and speaking every language. In this, the fifth-largest city in America, I feel like I'm Henry David Thoreau.
And then I see the garbage.
I spend as much time as I can in Fairmount Park, and I commute through it every day, sometimes remembering to silently acknowledge how lucky I am. But if the stray chip bags and bottles bother me, the big-league trash really sets me off. One day, it's a pile of construction debris. Another day, it's a moldy old mattress and a string of overflowing green trash bags. I pass this stuff polluting our incredible park and ask myself: Can't this be better?
The answer is, yes, of course it can be better. It can be much better. But after hundreds of conversations with people who know and love Philadelphia's parks, my organization, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, has become convinced that better parks require a reformed park system. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Tues, March 28, 2006
Parks group calls for new board and a czar
By Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance yesterday called for the abolition of the Fairmount Park Commission and creation of a new Fairmount Park Board of Directors composed largely of members from the "private and nonprofit sector."
But the alliance, the largest friends group of the park, said a resolution now being considered by City Council that would merge the park with the Recreation Department was inappropriate.
"It doesn't go far enough," alliance board member Graham Finney said. READ MORE. . .
WHYY Radio (Morning Edition) - Posted on Tues, March 28, 2006
ADVOCATES FOR FAIRMOUNT PARK ARE POINTING TO A NEW REPORT CALLING FOR REFORMS IN HOW THE PARK SYSTEM IS RUN. THEY'RE AGAINST PROPOSED CITY COUNCIL LEGISLATION THAT WOULD MERGE SOME PARK OPERATIONS WITH THE CITY RECREATION DEPARTMENT.
SUSAN PHILLIPS REPORTS:
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance says Fairmount Park is underfunded and governed by a confusing structure that leaves no one knowing who is actually in charge. A report released Monday [3/27], calls for simplifying the current structure by replacing the Fairmount Park Commission with a board of directors, who would be accountable to the Mayor. Parks Alliance member Graham Finney says this would be a first step toward raising more money for the Park. READ MORE. . .
WHYY Radio - Posted on Tues, March 28, 2006
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance opposes merging Fairmount Park with the city's recreation department as was called for in legislation introduced in City Council last week.
Susan Phillips Reports:
The Alliance says the two agencies should be better funded, but remain seperate.The Alliance report issued today calls for simplifying the current hierarchy by replacing the Fairmount Park Commission with a board of directors, which would be directly accountable to the Mayor.
Parks Alliance Board member Joan Riley says simply merging Fairmount Park with the Recreation department would not solve the problem of underfunding. READ MORE. . .
Metro Philadelphia - Posted on Tues, March 28, 2006
Park group eyes mayor's race
By Brian X. McCrone
FAIRMOUNT PARK - The Philadelphia Parks Alliance yesterday said the Fairmount Park Commission should be drastically changed to allow greater participation from all city residents and it expects the issue to be a major debate point in the upcoming mayoral campaign. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Tues, March 21, 2006
Park agencies' tasks merging, city is told
By Stephan Salisbury
INQUIRER CULTURAL WRITER
The consolidation of Fairmount Park operations and those of the city Recreation Department are moving forward, city officials said yesterday at a City Council hearing on a plan to merge the two agencies and abolish the independent Fairmount Park Commission.
Assistant Managing Director Robert Allen, who is overseeing the consolidation, said volunteer services, trash collection and fleet management are all being streamlined - regardless of the proposed Council action. READ MORE. . .
Metro Philadelphia - Posted on Tues, March 21, 2006
Park merger fight turns to class
Fairmount called "white collar" while others deemed "blue collar"
By Brian X. McCrone / Metro Philadelphia
CITY HALL - A clash between the city's social classes is behind the ongoing battle to combine the Fairmount Park Commission and city Recreation Department, a former executive director of Fairmount Park said yesterday.
"I think it's a class issue," Phil Goldsmith, who is also a former city managing director, said following his appearance before City Council. "Fairmount Park is seen as the white-collar park. The other neighborhood parks throughout Philadelphia are seen as the blue-collar parks." READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Mon, March 20, 2006
Sandra Shea | Apples & oranges? No - more like a pair
THERE'S AN ELEPHANT in Fairmount Park.
And with today's City Council hearing moving us closer to some resolution about the future of the city's park system, maybe it's time we talked about it.
As I've listened to arguments against consolidating Fairmount Park and the city's recreation department into a new single entity - as a bill now before Council calls for - I find the arguments so counter-intuitive, so illogical, and so just plain wrong that only one conclusion makes sense: there's something someone's not telling me. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Wed, March 15, 2006
Recreation funding too weak, chief says
City Council hearings focused on the mayor's 2007 budget and restoring money for capital projects.
By Tina Moore
Inquirer Staff Writer
The city Recreation Department needs $100 million over the next five years to repair its infrastructure and avoid eventual shutdowns at pools, playgrounds, ice rinks and other recreation centers, Commissioner Victor Richard testified during budget hearings yesterday.
But Mayor Street's budget proposes setting aside about $6 million in 2007 for capital improvements. That is about half as much as the Recreation Department received last year. READ MORE . . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Wed, March 15, 2006
Nutter challenges city official presenting budget for parks
By Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer
Councilman Michael Nutter took the opportunity to ask some sharp questions yesterday when city and Fairmount Park officials presented the park budget at a City Council hearing.
The Street administration has proposed a $13 million operating budget for the park system next year and would maintain that level of funding throughout the city's new five-year plan. READ MORE . . .
KYW NewsRadio 1060 - Posted on Tues, March 15, 2006
Mayor Street's Fairmount Park Budget Under Fire
By KYW's Mike Dunn
Mayor Street's budget for the Fairmount Park System came under fire Tuesday at a Philadelphia City Council budget hearing.
Budget Director Diane Reed told councilmembers that the Mayor proposes keeping park funding at about $13 million for each of the next five years -- prompting this criticism from Councilman Michael Nutter:
"I could possibly go along with that, except for the fact that we have a budget and a five-year plan that in some areas has the government on a wild spending spree." READ MORE . . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Sat, Feb. 11, 2006
A stream of memories, captured in photos, finally sees print
WISSAHICKON LINKS: Maps, talks, guided hikes.
By Don Sapatkin
Inquirer Staff Writer
A poem of everlasting beauty and a dream of magnificence - the world-hidden, wood embowered Wissahickon.
George Lippard (1822-1854)
Moving slowly along the wide gravel path at Valley Green, sunlight warming her face and wind gusts mussing her shoulder-length silver hair, Herta Grove wondered aloud whether she could still negotiate even a few feet of the rutted dirt trails through the Wissahickon Valley.
She had hiked the back passages for more than 20 years with Victor, her husband. Hand in hand, guided by neither map nor goal, they followed twists and turns and ups and downs, marveling at all they saw. READ MORE . . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Sun, Jan. 29, 2006
Center Square | In search of a region's 'connectors'
By Chris Satullo
Philadelphia is short on leaders.
That's a commonplace around here.
Lord knows, with the parade of grubby scandals, the bungling of plans for key tracts, the perpetual dysfunction at places like SEPTA and the ports, our region has a way of lending credence to that statement.
And yet... some things must be going right for Philly to earn National Geographic Traveler's nod as The Next Great City, for people with choices to be flocking to the city. READ MORE . . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Fri, Jan. 27, 2006
Sandra Shea | HELP WANTED: Philly's best 'connectors'
WHO'S CONNECTED in this town?
Ask that question of most people, and they may pull out a list of names from the latest federal indictments.
But ask Liz Dow, president of Leadership Philadelphia, and she'll produce a list of names that has nothing to do with indictments, federal investigations or even with politics.
Her list includes people you might have heard of, including Phil Goldsmith, former managing director of the city, and Jane Golden, who runs the mural-arts program. But on that list are a lot of names you probably never heard, from every walk of life and from every neighborhood. READ MORE . . .
Philadelphia Inquirer - Posted on Fri, Jan. 13, 2006
PR firm hired to promote Fairmount Park
Toplin Associates, a public-relations firm, has been hired to promote the virtues of Fairmount Park, park commissioners learned at their regular monthly meeting yesterday. The firm, hired by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, will be particularly focused on touting the park's lesser-known assets, READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Tue, Jan. 10, 2006
Letters | On the park commission
RE YOUR recent editorial "Acres of Excuses": If the task force organized by the Fairmount Park Commission recommends a sensible plan, with widespread community support, for predictable funding to maintain all 9,200 acres of Fairmount Park in first-rate condition, the sale of bonds to make needed capital improvements to the more than 200 historic structures in the park, and a governance system to accomplish these two goals, will the editorial board acknowledge the wisdom and value of the commission? READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Inquier - Posted on Thurs, Jan. 5, 2006
A unified park system makes sense
That would eliminate duplication, make officials more responsive.
By Phil Goldsmith
A proposal to make the Fairmount Park Commission part of an expanded Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation will promote a cohesive and rational park and recreational plan for our city and bring sound business practices - something our two separate park systems lack. The proposal, by City Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Darrell Clarke, is not radical, untested, or out of the mainstream.
Cities such as Baltimore, New York, Phoenix, Houston, St. Louis and many others all have unified park and recreation systems. READ MORE. . .
Philadelphia Daily News - Posted on Tue, Jan. 3, 2006
Letters | Working Stiffed
NOT SURE what "town" Blondell Reynolds Brown, Darrell Clarke's or City Council live in or near, but most folks around this "town" are usually at work on the hours that the two public meetings regarding the Fairmount Park were scheduled to start. READ MORE. . .