"In my opinion, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance has become one of America’s premier city park advocacy organizations. Between your thoughtful advocacy, your public education and your unceasing outreach, you are making a huge difference. You’re a real inspiration to park lovers.”
Director of Center for City Park Excellence, Trust for Public Land
A Unique Mission
The mission of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance is to champion the public’s interest in outstanding parks, recreation and open spaces, key to making Philadelphia a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for all.
The Parks Alliance’s vision of a great city is one with great parks and interconnected green spaces. The Parks Alliance leads the diverse and expanding citizens’ movement which shapes public policies required to build the nation’s premier parks and recreation system.
About the Philadelphia Parks Alliance
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance's principal programs are advocacy and public education.
As powerful champions for beautiful, accessible, safe and well-maintained parks and recreation in Philadelphia, we monitor public policies, mobilize community support, build coalitions, lead campaigns and organize constituents. We work to expand and diversify park and recreation funding, while highlighting the value of parks within the social, economic and environmental fabric of our city and region. The Parks Alliance works to advance and influence sound policies and practices that support a thriving Department of Parks and Recreation and ensure that parks are at the forefront of Philadelphia’s public interest agenda.
The Parks Alliance is recognized by city officials, park advocate organizations, community groups, the media and others as the “citizens’ voice” for Philadelphia’s parks. The Parks Alliance is the only independent voice that advocates for parks and green spaces throughout our city. We are the voice for ALL of Philadelphia's parks. We represent the needs of our citizens – not special interests. As skilled community activists and organizers with a proven track record of success, we know what needs to be done and how to achieve our goals.
In addition to a robust advocacy program, the Parks Alliance also educates the public about the value of vibrant parks and recreation and about the policies that affect parks and recreation in Philadelphia. Through our website, e-mail blasts, briefings, forums and actions, we do the research and provide the facts and analyses citizens need to understand and take part in campaigns that support thriving parks and recreation for all Philadelphians.
The Parks Alliance is the link between citizens and elected and appointed officials. We work closely with a powerful and diverse citywide network of constituents, all of whom are committed to their neighborhoods’ parks and recreation facilities. The Parks Alliance is the convener and facilitator that brings together all parties around a cohesive agenda to ensure beautiful, accessible, safe and well-maintained parks and recreation in Philadelphia.
• Campaign for Expanded Park Funding: The Parks Alliance leads the ongoing effort for expanded and diversified park and recreation funding, while highlighting the value of Philadelphia’s parks to the social, economic and environmental potential of our city and region. In 2012, the Parks Alliance mounted a rigorous campaign to restore promised funding increases to the FY 2013 budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation (P&R). This included strategy sessions with 100 key constituent leaders; educating citizens about the complexities of the budget; and organizing hundreds of supporters at City Council budget hearings. Groups and individuals across the city sent 1,600 letters to the Mayor and City Council with the message that Parks and Recreation are not optional. The Parks Alliance organized teams of constituents to meet with individual Councilmembers and testify at every public and neighborhood budget hearing in Philadelphia - to talk about why well-funded parks and recreation are essential to families, neighborhoods, the City of Philadelphia and the region. Our multifaceted 2012 campaign attracted over 23 press stories.
City Council’s Appropriations Committee recently voted to approve a mid-year Transfer Ordinance effectively increasing the Department’s operating budget for FY 2013 by $2.675 Million. The Parks Alliance fully anticipates that the Bill will be approved by City Council and signed by Mayor Nutter in the coming weeks.
• Defeat of PA House Parks for Cash Bill: In our capacity as watchdog, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance is critical in stopping dangerous legislation before it is enacted. In October 2012, the Parks Alliance worked with the PA Association of Land Trusts and a coalition of organizations across the state of Pennsylvania to defeat the Parks for Cash bill that put acres of Pennsylvania’s parks, open spaces, trails and other public lands at risk for quick sale by cash-strapped local governments. Parks Alliance outreach generated 1,700 letters to State Senators and coverage in the local press. The Alliance worked to educate PA Senate staff about the dangers of the bill and to review potential amendments. The legislation was defeated when individual Senators became increasingly aware of its “unintended” impact on parks.
• Spearheading the Call for Legislation to Protect Parkland: The Parks Alliance led the call for legislation mandating the Commission on Parks and Recreation (Commission) to - for the first time ever - create standards for the protection and use of parkland, and worked with key stakeholders, government officials, citizens and experts for the creation of a land protection ordinance that reflects best thinking and practices. This included more than $20,000 in pro-bono legal work donated to the Alliance for this project. In January 2011, after a public process, the Commission approved an ordinance that was then introduced in City Council for review, additional public comment, minor amendment and final passage. It was signed into law by Mayor Nutter in April 2011. The Parks Alliance continues to monitor early implementation of the Open Lands Protection Ordinance and related policy decisions.
• Serving as the Information Source For All Things Park: The Parks Alliance is the go-to source for all things park – including statistics and charts on funding trends; campaign briefing papers; relevant press coverage and Parks Alliance publications such as a recent article about P&R’s new concessions policy and the groundbreaking Trust for Public Land study commissioned by the Parks Alliance, How Much Value Does the City of Philadelphia Receive from its Park and Recreation System? The Alliance’s Park Stories program is expanding from written place based pieces to digital personal stories about parks and recreation.
• Leading the Campaign that Created the New Department of Parks and Recreation: The Parks Alliance led the campaign that in November 2008 resulted in 73% of voters approving the historic Charter Referendum to reform the city’s park and recreation system. This referendum was born out of several years of rigorous study and dialogue that included park users and residents from all over the city, community and business organizations, national experts and government officials. Since then the Parks Alliance has been working to ensure the success of this reform: visionary and accountable leadership, strong land use policies, expanded and diversified investment and a growing base of citizens organized and focused on parks and recreation.
• Bob Thomas Tours: Board President Bob Thomas leads monthly hikes to magical and often unseen places in Philadelphia’s parks and in the countryside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. These evening and daylong adventures convey the history, value, and power of our open space and the need to preserve and protect it.