Letters From The Board
Letter from Beth Ounsworth
Dear Philadelphia Parks Alliance,
Because of my good fortune to live in an area where I could take advantage of easy access to one of the most beautiful parks in Philadelphia, I joined the Friends of Philadelphia Parks (now Philadelphia Parks Alliance) about ten years ago. The Wissahickon forest reminds me of New England, where I grew up, and I walk on the trails almost every day. I thought it was time to give something back to the parks by volunteering. Before I knew it, I was on the board; and two years later I became President of the Board, a position which I held for almost 10 years.
From the narrow view of my own back yard, I expanded my horizons at Philadelphia Parks Alliance. I learned about the complexities of the Fairmount Park System and the Philadelphia Department of Recreation. I learned how vast the systems are and how very important the parks and green space are to our city. I also learned that parks are severely underfunded and have an excellent, but steadily decreasing staff due to budget cuts.
Our board made a decision to concentrate on advocacy, education, and to build coalitions to support our parks and the role they play in the city. That role involves health and well-being of the citizens, recreation, beauty, relaxation of mind and body, and a showplace for visitors and citizens. Parks play an integral part in urban renewal and development. Homes close to parks stimulate housing prices and also attract business.
This is an exciting time. There is a worldwide movement to educate cities about the value of parks. Many cities have rehabilitated their aging parks systems, have built new parks, and are reaping the rewards in terms of enhanced economic development and a grateful constituency. Parks should play an important role in city planning.
In the near future, I would like to see a spotlight put on our parks by our next mayor. I would like to see a mayor/leader who will invest his or her will, energy and passion to bring Philadelphia’s parks to the best that they can be. I would like Philadelphia’s parks to be known throughout the world as a prime attraction for visitors and a source of great pride for our citizens, and I would be proud that our organization had something to do with that.
Board Member since 1996
Letter from Doris Gwaltney
Parks are important!
These are challenging and exciting days for those of us who know that the value of green, open space in an urban landscape can not be measured. A revitalized park located up the street or around the corner from a community’s residents is a valued asset. Because the Carroll Park Neighbors are an active park friends group, we have seen and experienced the positive impact that a revitalized Carroll Park has had on our community. Abandoned properties that once surrounded the park have been up-graded and are now occupied. Homeowners have painted the facades of their houses. The programs that we host, the after-school activities for children, the free summer camp, and our free summer concert series, have never before been offered to our community and are now gratefully accepted by park visitors. The planting beds add to the ambience of the park and the exercise track directly impacts the daily lives of hundreds of our community’s residents.
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance is the only organization that has been consistently working for many years to bring and keep park issues before the citizens of Philadelphia. It is not unusual now for parks and open space to be seen as expendable commodities by those who do not understand that a green space in a community humanizes that community. As members of PPA’s Board of Directors, we must be diligent and un-wavering in our advocacy on behalf of Philadelphia’s parks. It is a privilege for me to observe the greening activities of new park friends groups as they catch a vision of what their community can and will become because of their hard work and dedication. And we need to keep reminding public officials that green, open space is necessary to maintain the health and well-being of a community and point out the obvious aesthetic value that parks present to a vibrant, world-class city.
Are parks important?
An idea, a plan, a suggestion heard again and again in any city in America, or the world: “Let’s go to the park.”
President, Carroll Park Neighbors
58th Street and Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA. 19131