Posted on Fri, Dec. 18, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Court denies Fox Chase plan to expand into park
By VALERIE RUSS
The rowhouse neighbors, many of them elderly or retired, who challenged the prestigious Fox Chase Cancer Center's plans to expand into Burholme Park have won another round in the courts.
Wednesday afternoon, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled that the center cannot go forward with a plan to lease a portion of the park, which is part of the Fairmount Park system, for a $1 billion expansion.
Posted on Thu, Dec. 17, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Fox Chase loses appeal to use Burholme Park
By Linda Loyd
Fox Chase Cancer Center yesterday lost its appeal to use 19.4 acres of neighboring Burholme Park for a $1 billion expansion of its hospital.
Commonwealth Court upheld Orphans' Court Judge John W. Herron's ruling last December that Fox Chase is not entitled to lease a portion of the 65-acre public park.
"While we understand that Fox Chase's inability to expand at its present location may have negative economic consequences, this is not a consideration," wrote Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer.
The City of Philadelphia has a "duty" to continue to hold "the property in trust for its originally intended use as parkland."
Posted on Mon, Nov. 30, 2009, PlanPhilly
Sprucing up the Fairmount Park Houses
For the next two weeks, folks interested in taking in the splendor of an age gone by can do just that in a holiday atmosphere thanks to the volunteer organizations whose members spent part of last weekend decorating the historic Fairmount Park Houses.
Take your pick of these architectural masterpieces that recreate the setting in which important eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Philadelphians lived. A brief description of each follows.
Posted on Fri, Nov. 27, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Historic Fairmount homes dressed for holidays
Take a trolley tour or visit each separately to see this year's themes.
By Jeff Davidson
The doors of architectural masterpieces from centuries past will open next week as part of the holiday tour of historic Fairmount Park houses.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Dec. 6, and again Dec. 9-13, the Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Ormiston, Sweetbriar, and Woodford houses in Fairmount Park will be part of a tradition that began in 1976. The houses, open year round, are being specially prepared for the holiday season.
Posted on Wed, Nov. 25, 2009, Star Publications
Northwest residents contemplate parks and rec merger
By Jon Campisi
With her SUV parked nearby, its yellow lights flashing in the darkness, the Fairmount Park ranger helped those attending the community meeting at Walnut Lane Golf Course safely cross the dimly lit street.
While this was her charge on this particular night, for the ranger, what was going on inside the building was of utmost importance.
"That's what we all want to know," she said when asked if she and her colleagues will still be employed following the merger of Fairmount Park and the city's Department of Recreation.
Inside the clubhouse of Walnut Lane Golf Course, operated by Fairmount Park, residents were briefed on the status of the merger, received a brief history lesson about both organizations, and gave input on how they'd like to see merger can move forward.
Posted on Mon, Nov. 23, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Students reinterpret Fairmount Park mansions
By Vernon Clark
With brushstrokes, stitches, photography, and more, 39 Philadelphia artists brought the great mansions of Fairmount Park to City Hall.
In an exhibit of 54 pieces designed to boost awareness of the seven colonial mansions along the Schuylkill, students from Moore College of Art and Design, a women's college at 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City, designed interpretations of the classic homes. Their work competed for prizes.
Posted on Sun, Nov. 22, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Volunteers spend a day greening the city
By Melissa Dribben
Over the weekend, 1,000 new residents put down roots in Philadelphia. They are the best kind of neighbor - cool and self-possessed, upstanding and good-looking. And although they will never pay taxes, dish any gossip, or lend you a cup of sugar, by merely moving in they have helped improve property values and morale throughout the city.
No need to worry that they have teenagers who play drums. They're trees. Sycamores and pin oaks and flowering cherries. Little saplings with trunks no thicker than baseball bats.
Between sunrise yesterday and sunset today, 2,000 volunteers working in 34 neighborhoods planted the trees in parks and in wells cut into concrete sidewalks.
Posted October, 2009, WebMD Medical News
Parks, Green Spaces Protect Your Health
Study Shows People Living Near Parks Less Likely to Have Depression
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
There is more evidence that living near parks, woods, or other green spaces may improve your mental and physical health.
Close proximity to green spaces was associated with less depression, anxiety, and other health problems in a newly published study. The relationship was strongest for children and people with low incomes.
The research is not the first to suggest that green spaces help keep people healthy, but it is the first to assess their impact on specific health conditions.
Posted on Fri, Oct. 16, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Changing Skyline: Perking up the Parkway
Even before the Barnes arrives, major landscaping projects will transform the area to make it more pleasing to pedestrians.
By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
From the moment that the Barnes Foundation decided to move to Philadelphia, the arrangement was cast as a perfect marriage of interests. The Barnes would become financially sustainable in a new home on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The city would finally get a lively cultural attraction to occupy a primo spot on that great boulevard of dead space.
The $200 million museum design unveiled last week promises to be everything the celebrated art foundation could have desired: refined, serene, uplifting.
Posted on Fri, Oct. 16, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
YOU ASKED for a merged parks and recreation system, and in November, you got it.
But the ballot question that voters overwhelmingly approved to combine Fairmount Park and the city's Recreation Department was just the beginning.
Now it's time to do the work. And Parks and Rec Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis wants the help of citizens in creating the best park and recreation system in the country.
Earlier this month, he began a series of public meetings to hear from park and recreation users on how the merger should best serve their needs. Five meetings remain.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 15, 2009, Commentary, Philadelphia Inquirer
City parks will be safer with more use, not less
Crime shouldn't keep residents off Fairmount trails.
By Phillip Ranly, Kenn Rymdeko, and Robert Vance
Soon after an attack on a woman in Wissahickon Valley Park in August, an anonymous person began posting large, ominous signs. "DANGER WOMEN, DO NOT RUN/WALK ALONE!" the signs read, giving the impression that Philadelphia's parks are dangerous places.
In fact, rapes are not common in Fairmount Park, but even one violent incident is too many. To make our parks safer, we need to use them more, not less.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 15, 2009, Opinion, Philadelphia Daily News
Park safety in numbers
This piece is by Phillip Ranly of the Wissahickon Wanderers, Kenn Rymdeko, president of the Philadelphia Mountain Biking Association and Robert Vance, president of Friends of the Wissahickon.
SOON AFTER the attack on a woman in Wissahickon Valley Park on Aug. 11, an anonymous citizen concerned about women's safety began posting large, ominous signs in the Wissahickon advising women not to run in the park.
Posted on Sun, Sep. 27, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Breaking ground with a $1.6 billion plan to tame water
By Sandy Bauers
Philadelphia has announced a $1.6 billion plan to transform the city over the next 20 years by embracing its storm water - instead of hustling it down sewers and into rivers as fast as possible.
The proposal, which several experts called the nation's most ambitious, reimagines the city as an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, thousands of additional trees, porous pavement, and more.
All would act as sponges to absorb - or at least stall - the billions of gallons of rainwater that overwhelm the city sewer system every year.
Posted on Tue, Sep. 22, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
The mayor's to-do list, Part II: Criminal justice, parks & rec, poverty
MAYOR NUTTER has a lot of catching up to do.
As we pointed out yesterday, the months-long budget crisis forced the mayor to put much of his agenda on hold. That means the problems he confronted when he came into office are even worse. Plus, the budget mess also brought to light some items that demand attention. For example:
PARKS & REC: Consolidating the city's park system and recreation department is only the start of a long process of managing the city's recreational and natural resources. Even hiring the best guy for the job of running the new department, Michael DiBerardinis, doesn't get us all the way there. The parks need to stay high on the list of mayoral priorities - including budget priorities, since unmaintained parks, broken equipment and unsafe rec facilities need a commitment to banish them forever. That's right: forever.
Posted on Mon, Aug. 24, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
GreenSpace: The 'Wildman' forages for tasty weeds
Try "nutty" amaranth, he'll urge, or vitamin-rich yellow watercress. Then he'll erupt with a wisecrack.
By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
Steve Brill owes a good part of his success to a dandelion. That, and an irate New York parks commissioner who didn't want him eating Central Park's greenery.
It was 1986, and the now-famous forager - who roams yards and fields, eating things most people call weeds - was leading a wild foods tour in the park when two undercover agents arrested him. He was handcuffed, fingerprinted and charged with criminal mischief.
But the savvy Brill turned the arrest into opportunity. He called all the news outlets and wound up - on April 1, of all things - a topic for Dan Rather and many front pages. A sample headline: "The Man who Ate Manhattan."
Posted on Sun, Aug. 23, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Parkland in the air
The success of an elevated greenway in New York gives hope to those who dream of a similar project in Philadelphia.
Why can't we have a High Line Park in Philadelphia?
The High Line is a disused section of elevated freight railway in Manhattan. It has now been transformed into an elegant, elevated park. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 20th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Projected phases will take it 1.45 miles to 34th Street. Open only since June 9, the park already has drawn glowing reviews. With its lush array of plants, its eco-friendly benches and tables, it affords views of city and sky you can't get anywhere else.
Posted on Fri, Aug. 7, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Construction to start on riverfront greenway
By Jennifer Lin
Bob Borski heads down a long lane off State Road and stops his car at a city park on the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia.
The former congressman scans the broad shoulders of the muddy river.
"It's spectacular," Borski said.
"And no one ever gets over here to see it."
That is set to change dramatically in the next two years.
The long-discussed North Delaware riverfront greenway is moving closer to reality, with enough public support and public money - $34 million - to begin construction on two-thirds of the proposed 11-mile trail for runners, walkers and cyclists.
Friday, July 24, 2009, Heard in the Hall
Restrictions eased on Parks and Rec board members
It hasn’t been easy street for Mayor Nutter when it comes to making appointments to various city boards and commissions.
That’s in large part due to a Philadelphia Board of Ethics ruling just before he took office that barred members of 25 such boards and commissions from being politically active, including raising campaign funds.
That included wearing a Barack Obama button.
It was no surprise, then, that the mayor a few weeks ago sought to find out if the 15 members of one of the newest panels — the Commission on Parks and Recreation — would be subject to the same prohibition.
The answer: No.
Posted on Fri, Jul. 24, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
In Philly, it's not easy being green
By DANA DiFILIPPO
IT WOULD BE the green meeting.
Tanga Dixon had invited speakers from three environmental groups to talk with her neighborhood organization about everything from park cleanups and urban farming to toxic emissions spewing from idling cars.
She'd sent out 500 mailers and had volunteers post another 300 throughout Point Breeze. She and other community leaders had filled a table at the St. Simon the Cyrenian Church at 22nd and Reed streets with all manner of cakes and goodies to feed the throngs they hoped would come.
But when the meeting time rolled around last Thursday night, only about 25 folks turned out - and half of those were the invited speakers and leaders of Dixon's group.
Posted on Wed, Jul. 22, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Former police station is readied for latest role as park rangers' office
By ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH
The drop cloths have come down and the paint has dried. Soon, 160-year-old Wissahickon Hall, at Lincoln Drive and Gypsy Lane, will once again house the sentinels of Fairmount Park.
The stately three-story, stucco-stone-and-frame structure housed the 92nd Police District from 1972 until last December, when the station closed and its officers were reassigned to other districts.
The hall, which will house the Fairmount Park Ranger Corps, "is a good central location for the Wissahickon Valley and East and West Fairmount Park," said Mark Focht, the Fairmount Park Commission's executive director.
Posted on Mon, Jul. 13, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
PARKS: SIZE MATTERS, BUT SO DO OTHER THINGS
STATE REPRESENTATIVE Mark Cohen says he's planning to sue the city, challenging its right to dissolve the Fairmount Park Commission, as it did following a November ballot intiative. He claims the original commission, appointed by the board of judges, is a state agency.
Cohen thinks the old Fairmount Park Commission was better equipped to keep the city from selling off parkland to developers, and suggests that the new commission appointed to oversee parks and recreation won't be strong enough to fight the city as it lines up buyers for Tacony or Pennypack.
The specter of city government signing over the deeds to precious parkland was a frequent tool in the long and often loud battle over who should be steward of Fairmount Park: an "independent" commission or a city department. That debate resulted in a referendum in which voters overwhelmingly voted to dissolve the commission and merge the parks and recreation department.
Since we argued for the merger, we think Cohen's lawsuit is both ill-advised and irresponsible.
Posted on Tue, Jul. 7, 2009, Daily News
Nurturing the green economy
By ALLYSON SCHWARTZ & MICHAEL NUTTER
WHILE "going green" has long been associated with protecting the environment, we believe it should also be associated with saving and earning money. Clean, sustainable and livable communities go hand-in-hand with economic growth.
In these tough economic times, many American cities and towns are searching for innovative ways to go green, seeking to make investments that will ultimately save taxpayer dollars and increase local property values.
These efforts come in many forms - revitalizing municipal parks and public spaces, landscaping neighborhood gateways and key corridors, planting trees, constructing green roofs, cleaning and maintaining vacant lots. Collectively, these green infrastructure investments make neighborhoods healthier by improving air quality and lowering surface temperatures, increase property values and help municipalities effectively manage stormwater runoff.
Posted, Monday, July 6, 2009, Philadelphia Business Journal
Phila.’s new parks commission will oversee green space preservation
Mayor Michael Nutter announced the members of the city’s new Commission on Parks and Recreation Monday at Mander Playground in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia.
The 15-member commission will be made up of nine members from the public selected by the mayor and six members from city government.
The commission will set standards and guidelines for land use and green space preservation as park land is acquired, sold or leased.
Posted on Fri, Jul. 3, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Nutter chooses members for new Phila. department
By Zoe Tillman
Marking another milestone in the creation of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Nutter introduced the 15 members of the Commission on Parks and Recreation yesterday.
The commission members - nine of whom were appointed by Nutter and six from relevant city agencies - include public officials, conservation activists, and community leaders. Nancy Goldenberg, vice president of planning for the Center City District, will lead the group as chairwoman.
The commission will advise the department on guidelines for land use, sustainability programs, and the management of park and recreation space. Goldenberg said members also may work with other cities to find better ways to manage city parks.
Posted on Fri, Jul. 3, 2009, Daily News
9 named to parks/rec panel
Mayor Nutter yesterday announced nine members of the new Commission on Parks and Recreation. They are: Nancy Goldenberg, vice president of planning for the Center City District; Debra Goldstein, president of Conservation Matters LLC; Jeffrey Hackett, a pest-control technician with the school district; Pete Hoskins, a former director of Fairmount Park; Anthony Langford, president of the Friends of East Fairmount Park; Leslie Anne Miller, member of the board of Fairmount Conservancy; Carol Rice, chairman of the Warrington Township Park and Recreation Board; Carlos Rodriguez, assistant vice president of Beneficial Bank and president of Puerto Rico Stars, and Sarah Clark Stuart, co-coordinator of the Schuylkill River Park Alliance.
Posted, Friday, 03 July 2009, KYW 1060
Nutter Introduces Parks and Rec Committee Members
by Steve Tawa
Mayor Nutter has introduced the members of the newly created commission on parks and recreation, after last November's ballot question in which voters overwhelmingly decided to abolish the more than 140-year-old Fairmount Park Commission.
The mayor says they received over 200 applications, and after city council submitted a list of 25-nominations, he chose the nine appointees to serve as guardians of the 9,200 acre Fairmount Park:
"The commission will be responsible for setting standards for land use and green space preservation."
Posted on Fri, Jun. 26, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Changing Skyline: Four visions for creating a green gem on the riverfront
By Inga Saffron
Anyone who still believes that nothing changes in Philadelphia should have attended last week's Battle of the Architects at Festival Pier on the Delaware waterfront. The public event pitted four top landscape-design firms against one another for a chance to build a city park on a wildly overgrown finger pier at the foot of Race Street.
Two things about the evening are worth noting: It was clear that any of the shortlisted firms would do a first-rate job at Pier 11. And not one had gotten this far in the running by making a campaign contribution.
Friday, June 19, 2009, Editorial, Say What: Philadelphia Inquirer
High ideals, hopes for city parks and rec
What's not to like in city parks and rec czar Michael DiBerardinis' new vision statement just issued for the merged Fairmount Park and Recreation Department?
The former state parks chief promises "the nation’s premier park and recreation system by connecting to the City and region’s environmental, economic, social, cultural, historic and physical health through programs, practices and policies."
In setting his course, DiBerardinis pretty clearly hopes to bring everybody into the tent. According to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, the mission statement "reflects the input of more than 700 community partners and staff, who have reviewed the document since early May and have shared feedback reflective of their concerns and aspirations."
Now for the hard part: Turning dreams into reality in a challenging fiscal climate.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009, Editorial, Say What: Philadelphia Inquirer
Plenty of good park draft picks on City Council's list
It's time for Mayor Nutter to walk the talk by a July 1 deadline when it comes to his pledge to make Fairmount Park "one of the best" - by picking top-flight members for the new parks and recreation commission. These are the folks who - in much the same way as the now-abolished 142-year-old Fairmount Park Commission - will be charged with making sure the 9,200-acre park is around for the next 142 years.
Posted on Fri, Jun. 5, 2009, Editorial, Daily News
Council helps build a better waterfront
ON WEDNESDAY, City Council made headway on improving the city's waterfront, when the rules committee approved a zoning overlay covering a stretch of the Delaware between Oregon and Allegheny avenues.
The overlay, from Councilman DiCicco, provides interim planning requirements until a city master plan supersedes it, and will help create a riverfront trail and a retail/commercial corridor, and better connect the riverfront and the city- all the focus of the civic vision for the central Delaware created after nearly two years of public meetings.
Posted on Thu, Jun. 4, 2009, Daily News
By luck & pluck, Rec's no wreck
By DAVE DAVIES & CATHERINE LUCEY
TAKE AWAY a recreation program in a lot of suburban communities, and it's one less option for summer fun.
But in Philadelphia, for many parents, neighborhood pools and rec centers are their kids' only alternative to hanging on street corners and connecting with the wrong people.
So, city Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson is pleased that her department won't have to fold as many of its operations as it feared six months ago. Forty-six pools will be open by July 2, and scores of day camps will begin on July 6.
"People out there depend on us for these programs," Slawson said this week. "People come up to me and say, 'Where can I send my sons? They're getting just a little bit out of control.' "
If you're counting on city rec programs this summer, there's good news, bad news and some fine print.
Posted on Thu, Jun. 4, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Council panel advances Delaware waterfront measures
By Jennifer Lin
City Council could soon take a major step in an effort under way for more than two years to create a new civic vision for the underused central Delaware River waterfront.
The Rules Committee gave its support yesterday to land-use measures setting aside property for public use and restricting the way it can be developed. Council is expected to vote on the changes by June 18, its last session before the summer break.
The committee approved the bill introduced by Councilman Frank DiCicco over the objections of a group representing about 20 property owners.
The zoning "overlay" would be replaced by a new master plan in 12 to 16 months, said Alan Greenberger, executive director of the City Planning Commission.
Posted on Wed, Jun. 3, 2009, Editorial, Daily News
Parkway vs. Raceway: Recent accident underscores need for plan
AUTO ACCIDENTS rarely make the paper in this town; in fact, there could almost be a paper devoted solely to reporting on them.
But one recent accident has been in the news lately for good reason: A father and son on a bicycle trying to cross MLK Drive at the south side of the Art Museum got slammed by an SUV that apparently blasted through a crosswalk to get around a car that stopped to let the cyclers cross.
Posted on Wed, Jun. 3, 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Schuylkill River Park adds two sections
By Stephan Salisbury
"We want to keep the wildlife," Joe Syrnick said, standing in a dreary field of weeds near the east bank of the Schuylkill.
As he gazed toward the river with its tangles of scrub and trees, a tawny dog bounded over a rise, then stopped and stared, concerned by humans invading his isolated jungle territory.
"Oh, yeah, there are feral dogs in here, but they're not a problem," said Syrnick, executive director of the Schuylkill River Development Corp. "They've never attacked us."
Posted on Tues, June 2, 2009, WHYY
Council finalizes list of potential Parks & Rec Commission members
By, Susan Phillips
Philadelphia is one step closer to naming the members of the new Parks and Recreation Commission. A City Council Committee wittled the candidates down from more than 200 applications. The move is an important step toward the recent merger between Fairmount Park and the City’s Recreation department.
Mayor Nutter once described the way Fairmount Park Commissioners used to be chosen as Kremlin-like. But the Mayor will soon have a list of 25 candidates whose applications can be viewed online.
Posted on Mon, June 1, 2009, Philly Clout
City Council Names Potential Parks & Rec Commissioners
City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown announced this afternoon the names of 25 applicants chosen by her colleagues for consideration as commissioners for the new Department of Parks & Recreation. Council received 204 applications for nine spots on the new board, which will advise the department, formed from the merger of the Fairmount Park Commission and the Department of Recreation. Council can pick up to 25 names to recommend to the mayor, who then selects the nine commissioners.
Posted Tues, June 2, 2009, KYW
Finalists Chosen for Fairmount Park Panel of Advisors
By Mike Dunn
Now that the Fairmount Park Commission is being abolished, Philadelphia City Council and the mayor are moving toward creating a new panel that will advise them on park issues.
The sprawling Fairmount Park system is being folded into the recreation department and the Fairmount Park Commission is no more. In its place will be a new advisory panel, and City Council has now whittled down the list of nearly 200 applicants to 25.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown was impressed by those who applied:
“When we started down this path, we never ever imagined for a second the quality and quantity of candidates – they care about serving this city.”
Posted on Sat, May. 30, 2009, Editorial, The Philadelphia Inquirer
The park's close call
Just how close Philadelphia officials came to declaring all of Fairmount Park's 9,200 acres open to bulldozers will never be known. But the City Council proposal scuttled last week should serve as a warning on the dangers of the coming parks and recreation merger.
When voters amended the City Charter in November to abolish the 142-year-old Fairmount Park Commission, they acted on pledges from Mayor Nutter and park advocates alike that the creation of a city Department of Parks and Recreation would enhance the preservation and upkeep of Fairmount Park.
If the charter change instead proves to have eliminated a valuable public forum and safeguard against park development, then citizens will need to clamor for a reform of the reform.
Posted on Wed, May. 20, 2009, Editorial, Daily News
Parkland: for sale by owner?
CONSPIRACY theorists will make much of the fact that a Joan Krajewski bill that would rezone recreation land to allow for construction of conference centers, single-family dwellings and dance halls has appeared conveniently close to the last official meeting of the Fairmount Park Commission before it dissolves.
The commission, which was officially dissolved by voters last year, meets for the last time today. Those who fought against the dissolution and against the parks' being merged with the Recreation Department may see the bill as their worst fears realized: that the minute the commission goes away, the city will start selling off parkland to the highest bidder.
We do see a connection between the two, but we see it as much more positive: That with the big change and the establishment of a Fairmount Park Advisory Board, the parks have been returned to the people, and higher public scrutiny and accountability will discourage these doomsday scenarios. (Note that the bill came out while the old structure was still in place.)
Posted on Wed, May. 20, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Bill Allowing Construction on Parkland Withdrawn
By Stephan Salisbury
A bill that could have opened Fairmount Park to housing construction and other development was withdrawn from City Council consideration yesterday after its sponsor decided the legislation's sweep took it far beyond its intended purpose.
Councilwoman Joan L. Krajewski said yesterday she was withdrawing her proposed amendment to the city code for the simple reason that "the legislation was written wrong."
Posted on Tue, May. 19, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Bill could allow construction in Fairmount Park
By Stephan Salisbury
Only months after voters approved a charter change abolishing the independent Fairmount Park Commission, transferring decision-making power over parkland to the mayor and City Council, legislation has been introduced that would open up the entire park to housing development, parking, building construction, signage, and other uses.
Park advocates have expressed "strong opposition" to the bill, a proposed change in the zoning and planning provisions of the city code introduced by Councilwoman Joan L. Krajewski.
Posted on Wed, Apr. 29, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Nutter envisions 'green' city by 2015
By Marcia Gelbart
Take a walk around Mayor Nutter's "green" Philadelphia and you'll find an open, public space within a 10-minute walk of almost every Philadelphian's home.
Also within a short stroll from every household: a farmer's market or other healthy, fresh food outlet.
Both visions are part of the mayor's ambitious plan, scheduled to be announced today, to make Philadelphia the No. 1 Green City in the nation.
Posted on Mon, Apr. 27, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
New playground fosters new optimism
By Annette John-Hall
On a glorious spring day in Feltonville, the kids came out to play.
Hard to say whether it was the seldom-seen sun or the sparkling new playground at the Feltonville Recreation Center that lured them. Probably both.
But everyone would agree that happy kids make the music of springtime: Dozens of them, romping on the colorful marigold and purple slides and jungle gym. Sweaty teens running full court on the adjoining basketball court. And over in the tot lot, moms pushing little ones in baby swings, chatting with one another and soaking up the sun and the beauty of their surroundings.
The playground's colorful makeover began at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in February, when Mayor Nutter, strapped with a $2 billion deficit, appealed to businesses for help in sustaining city services.
Posted on Wed, Apr. 22, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Parks and Recreation chief lays out timetable for merger
By Stephan Salisbury
The city's brand-new commissioner of an as-yet-nonexistent Department of Parks and Recreation told City Council yesterday that "most of the work" on the new agency needed to be completed by the end of this year.
Michael DiBerardinis said planning for the merger of the Fairmount Park Commission and the Recreation Department, mandated by voters in last November's charter-change ballot issue, had to move forward quickly so officials could prepare a unified operating budget next year.
The legislation requires the new department to be operational by July 2010.
Posted on Sun. April 19, 2009, Young Philly Politics
Fairmount Park and Leveraging the Civic Involvement of Philadelphia
By Dan U-A
Fernhill Park is Germantown’s little piece of Fairmount Park I grew up about a half a block from Fernhill, and like a lot of people from all over the City, I have my own ‘playground’ memories of the park. Mine involves my old man teaching me to my bike and doing circles inside Fernhill’s tennis courts. And as I pedaled and pedaled around, I realized no one taught me how to brake. I still blame my dad for that oversight.
Posted on Wed, Apr. 1, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Council questions lack of progress on Dell renovation
By CHRIS BRENNAN
A hearing on the city's capital budget yesterday quickly and repeatedly turned to a topic near and dear to Council's political heart: Robin Hood Dell East.
The Fairmount Park venue was closed before the start of last summer's concert series because a broken drainage system sent storm water under half the seating area. That destabilized the foundation, causing dangerous gaps in the concrete.
Posted on Tue, Mar. 31, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
EVEN PUTTING aside the credentials, expertise and passion for parks shown by the 149 candidates for the Parks and Recreation Commission who just came before City Council, the public sessions were remarkable.
Posted on Mon, Mar. 23, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
Suddenly, parks panel draws a crowd
Despite early apathy, City Council was overwhelmed with applicants for nine appointed positions on the new Commission on Parks and Recreation.
A week before the March 9 deadline, Council members had gotten only 11 applications. They ultimately received 207, later whittled down to 194 with some withdrawals.
Posted on Fri, Mar. 20, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
207 apply for 9 seats on parks-and-recreation panel
By Jeff Shields
A week before the March 9 deadline, City Council had only 11 applications to fill nine seats on the new Commission of Parks and Recreation. It now has 207.
The board is to have a prominent role in creating regulations for a city agency resulting from the merging, on July 1, of the Fairmount Park Commission and the Department of Recreation.
Posted on Wed, Mar. 11, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer
Editorial: Parks and Recreation
Quite a following
It would come as no surprise if Mayor Nutter's appointment last week of Michael DiBerardinis to run Philadelphia's new parks and recreation agency prompted the flood of 200-plus applicants for the department's advisory panel.
The nine, volunteer parks and recreation commissioners to be named can expect DiBerardinis - head of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources since 2003 - to put a challenging agenda before them in their policy-setting role.
Posted on Fri, Mar. 6, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
A new day for parks & rec
STOCKS MIGHT have fallen on Wall Street yesterday, but the stock for the city's public spaces and rec centers rallied big time at Mayor Nutter's announcement that Michael DiBerardinis will take over as the chief of the newly merged parks and recreation departments.
The choice of DiBerardinis is a best- case scenario for the city, its parklands and rec facilities. For the past six years, he served as secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which maintains the commonwealth's 117 state parks and manages 2.1 million acres of forest land.
Posted Fri, March 6, 2009, Philadelphia Metro
Former city official returns for new role
By Brian X. McCrone
CITY HALL. Michael DiBerardinis, head of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources under Gov. Ed Rendell, is returning to Philadelphia to take the newly-created position of Department of Parks and Recreation commissioner.
Posted on Thurs, March 5, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer
City to get new parks commissioner
By Jeff Shields
Mayor Nutter is expected to hire Gov. Rendell's open-space czar to oversee the city's new department of parks and recreation, sources familiar with the deal said yesterday.
Michael DiBerardinis ran the city Recreation Department during Rendell's time as mayor, 1992 to 2000, and now is in charge of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He will head the entity formed by the merger of the Fairmount Park Commission and the Recreation Department.
Posted on Wed, Mar. 4, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer
City Council could use a few more good men and women to step forward and offer to serve on Philadelphia's new Commission on Parks and Recreation.
With just days to go until the Monday deadline, the applicant pool is barely large enough to fill the nine-member panel that Mayor Nutter will name to replace the Fairmount Park Commission, which phases out in June. Council is supposed to send the mayor a list of 18 to 25 candidates from which he will nominate.
Posted on Tue, Mar. 3, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
MAYOR NUTTER, beleaguered by a major fiscal crisis, hasn't gotten many chances lately to announce good news, so Sunday's announcement of a grant that will create a park on Pier 11 on the Delaware waterfront must have been particularly sweet.
Besides, it's not every day that a city mayor gets to announce a new public space. But thanks to a million-dollar grant from the William Penn Foundation, to be enhanced by city funds, the pier will be home to a park, a fine beginning to a master planning process about to commence for the waterfront.
Posted on Mon, Mar. 2, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
$1 million grant propelling Pier 11 park plans forward
By JENNIFER KLIMOWICZ
Plans for a park on the Delaware waterfront's dilapidated Pier 11 are well under way thanks to a $1 million grant from the William Penn Foundation, city officials announced yesterday.
Posted on Sun, Mar. 1, 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Nutter proceeds with waterfront plan
By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
Despite severe budget cutbacks that have put many city projects on hold, Mayor Nutter intends to announce at a news conference today that he will authorize $2 million worth of planning and design work for a recreation trail along the Delaware River, a new park at Pier 11, and a formal master plan for the central waterfront.
Posted on Fri, Feb. 27, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Parks & Rec deserves the best, so apply now!
By LAUREN BORNFRIEND & PETE HOSKINS
Philadelphia's parks are poised for change. They have new potential they haven't had for decades. But for this potential to actually be achieved requires another step. And this one is quite simple.
Last fall, the city's voters overwhelmingly supported a charter amendment to reform the park and recreation system. It called for merging the two departments, placing direct accountability for their management and revitalization on the mayor and the appointment of a new parks and rec commission to be selected for the first time in a transparent and public process.
Soon this new commission will be appointed by Mayor Nutter, and he needs the best recommendations possible.
But first, applications must be submitted to City Council, which will hold a public hearing before forwarding nominations to the mayor. And this is where anyone who cares about parks and recreation gets to help.
Posted on Wed, Feb. 25, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
WE ALL KNOW that too many in the city consider the streets their wastebasket, or worse, their personal spittoons. Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler acknowledged that the city is a dump during last week's sustainability forum, and also pointed out that short dumping - people dumping appliances and major garbage - is also a problem.
It's bad enough on our streets, but this same behavior also mars what should be the pristine acreage of the city's Fairmount Park system. And yet, the problem of dumping and litter has hounded the parks for a long time, one of many problems exacerbated by lack of funding.
Posted on Mon, Feb. 9, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Tongues wag as city hypes LOVE & kisses
By JESSICA BAUTISTA
Philadelphia Daily News
Samantha LeVinson, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was visiting friends in Philly yesterday when she was invited to LOVE Park to help out with a film being shot. When she got there, she was asked to kiss a stranger.
"We just really hit it off," LeVinson said of her encounter with Alex McCarron, 24, of Philadelphia.
They were among dozens of couples (or potential couples) who showed up throughout the day near Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture to pucker up for the cameras of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.
Posted on Fri, Feb. 6, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Nutter visits Juniata to hear budget views
By JENNIFER KLIMOWICZ
Juniata residents told Mayor Nutter last night that they didn't care if their taxes went up as long as the city preserved services.
Nutter came to Greg Bentancurt's house, on Howland Street near Cayuga, last night to ask residents for advice as he tries to formulate another tight budget for the coming fiscal.
Bentancurt is a block captain. The meeting is part of Nutter's public budget campaign, which aims to alleviate concern over the budget gap by allowing Philadelphia residents to participate in the planning process.
Nutter hopes to avoid a repeat of this fall's backlash from his closed-door decisions to shut pools, libraries and fire stations as he faced the first of two $1 billion budget deficits.
Posted January 2009, "The Political Scene" The NEW YORKER
Greening the Ghetto
Can a remedy serve for both global warming and poverty?
by Elizabeth Kolbert
A few months ago, Van Jones, the founder and president of a group called Green for All, went to visit New Bedford, Massachusetts. His first stop of the day was the public library, where someone had assembled an audience of about thirty high-school dropouts. They leaned back in their chairs, hands in the pockets of their oversized sweatshirts. A few appeared to be stoned.
Jones, who is forty, is tall and imposing, with a shaved head and a patchy goatee. He wears rimless glasses and favors dark clothing. On this particular day, he was wearing a black turtleneck, black jeans, black boots, and a charcoal jacket. He was introduced by a community organizer and aspiring rapper, who described him as “a leader with answers,” a “genius from the hood, similar to our own,” and a youthful version of Barack Obama. When it was his turn to speak, Jones rejected the lectern that had been set up for him, saying that it reminded him too much of college.
Posted Mon, Feb. 2, 2009 Metro Philadelphia
Partnerships could be way of future as budget shrinks City services look for cash
by Solomon D. Leach
With the Mummers Parade on the verge of being canceled due to the city's budget crisis, two local politicians helped make up the difference. Likewise, when the city could not foot the bill for the fireworks, private donations saved the day.
Now in mid-March, Mayor Michael Nutter will present what figure to be painful service cuts and possible tax hikes for the future, but can private partners chip in to salvage other areas?
"This is an opportunity now to bring everyone together to think about how to diversify funding," said Lauren Bornfriend, head of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, an advocacy group for Fairmount Park, which lost an increase in funding due to budget cuts.
Posted Thurs, Jan. 29, 2009 Philadelphia Daily News
At a Glance: Parks/Rec leaders sought
Do you have knowledge, skills or a passion about city parks and recreation centers, including financial know-how or experience in fundraising, community activism or environmental causes?
Then City Council and Mayor Nutter want you to consider applying for the city's new Commission on Parks and Recreation. That advisory board will set standards and guidelines for the new Department of Parks and Recreation. The application can be found on the city's Web site - www. phila.gov - or by contacting a Council member.
Posted on Wed, Jan. 28, 2009, KYW Newsradio 1060 Philadelphia
Philadelphia Seeks Applicants for Parks Commissioners
by KYW's Mike Dunn
The city is looking for a few good volunteers -- to oversee Philadelphia's vast park system.
For decades, the Fairmount Park Commission members have been chosen in secret by a board of judges. But voters last November approved merging the park system into the city's recreation department (see related story), and oversight will now come from a new 15-member, unpaid commission, with nine members chosen by the mayor and City Council.
Posted on Wed, Jan. 28, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News, Philly Clout
City Seeking Applicants For New Parks & Recreation Commission
Mayor Nutter and City Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Darrell Clarke just kicked off the application process for people interested in serving on the city's new Commission on Parks & Recreation. That new advisory board will set standards and guidelines for the new city Department of Parks and Recreation. Voters in November approved a city Charter change to create that department by merging the Department of Recreation with the Fairmount Park Commission.
Posted on Wed, Jan. 28, 2009, Philadelphia Daily News
Help wanted for Parks and Rec
The Commission on Parks and Recreation will have 15 volunteer, unpaid members. Nine will be appointed by the mayor from a list of nominations submitted by City Council. The application period will be open for at least 30 days, after which Council will hold a public hearing. Submit application by March 9 to:
Office of the Chief Clerk of City Council; Room 402 City Hall, Broad and Market Sts. Philadelphia, PA. 19107 Attn: Patricia Rafferty.
For more details, including qualifications, e-mail and fax info, go to www.phila.gov or call David Forde at 215-686-3438 or Hal Fichandler at 215-686-7667. *
Posted on Wed, Jan. 28, 2009, Editorial, Philadelphia Daily News
The next chapter of our Parks and Rec
The Future Begins Today; You can do your Part
CITIES RARELY get do-overs, so Philadelphia's opportunity to remake its park system for the 21st century is both thrilling and terrifying.
Thrilling because at long last, the entrenched park-governance system that oversaw the city's 9,800 acres of parkland with little public input and virtually no transparency is about to change.
Terrifying because the dissolution of the Fairmount Park Commission and the merger of the parks and recreation departments will demand coordination, cooperation and collaboration. It comes at a time when resources are squeezed.
And we can't afford to blow it.