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park concept sketch

Presenters: Kathleen Murray, Special Assistant to City Council President Anna C. Verna; Terry Gillen, Democratic Party 30th Ward Leader; Sophie Robitaille and other representatives of the Community Design Collaborative.

Murray and Gillen recalled the history of the six year process to identify open spaces in our area that could become community parks. This one was selected because several of the parcels were already City-owned, and because it is a prominent location on a major traffic artery. The Council district's investment in the land will approach $1,000,000 for acquisition (RDA et al must be paid), and there will be no funding for development or maintenance. [View Kathleen Murray's Power Point presentation as an Adobe Acrobat file.] The Community Design Collaborative team then presented their concept for a park. Estimated costs to complete and maintain with volunteer help:

Additional architectural and landscape design
Materials and labor to construct/plant
Estimated ongoing maintenance (based on figures from the Louis Kahn Park.)

The Concept

In the drawing below (oriented so that North is to the top), the designers sought to replicate the rhythm and the feel of a small South Philadelphia street, with a central "thoroughfare" aligned north-south flanked by a number of features. Entrance to the park is via all four corners. To the east, salvaged marble stoops would echo the rowhouse rhythm of our streets, leading up a small grassy bank to "living rooms" containing, variously, a picnic table, a bench, and chairs. The south end will be devoted to an unstructured play area with marble blocks for climbing, surrounded by a low wall that can double as parent seating. The north end will contain a modest water feature (fountain). The park will be extended into the public spaces by street tree plantings on both sides of 22nd Street as well as on Carpenter and, as space permits, Montrose.

The plan includes overhead lighting on strings (like some South Philadelphia blocks have for block parties) and other task lighting, and has been designed with clear sight lines to foster community security.

Park concept drawing, described below

For additional concept sketches, see this page

Questions from the community included issues of funding, the possibility of staged construction, some queries about the process by which the community was involved in the planning process, concerns about trees, and concerns about security. A number of attendees were keenly interested in next steps and how they could help.

Next Steps: Some organizational issues to set up a Friends of the Parks Group, identify a mechanism to accept tax-deductible contributions (one possibility is to use the Neighborhood Garden Association as a conduit; another is to set up the friends group as a separate nonprofit corporation), and proceed to raise funding for additional design as well as for the construction. Kathleen Murray observed that the Redevelopment Authority is likely to retain title to the land for the short run at least and is going to want to see regular progress toward the park's development to justify holding such a choice parcel out of the market. Some points that arose in discussion worth noting: 1) that staged development, while attractive in theory, may have drawbacks in practice such as potential damage to hardscape and trees if phased construction impinges on previously planted areas and increased total project costs as the result of inflation; 2) in seeking funding, the CDC's pro-bono assistance of approximately $37,000 in contributed time can be used to meet a matching gift requirement.

Credits: Council President Anna C. Verna's office, especially Kathleen Murray and Gibran Lalani; SOSNA staff and board members over a six-year period, including Douglas Norman, Laura Blanchard, Matthew Corcoran, Ann Hoskins-Brown, and John McHugh; Terry Gillen and the 30th Ward Democratic Party for engaging the Community Design Collaborative and arranging for community consultations; members of the Community Design Collaborative for their participation in the initial consultation and design process; the Washington West Business Association for expressing interest in offering gifts in kind; Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church for flexibility in releasing some of the properties for park use in exchange for other affordable housing sites on Carpenter Street; Shiloh Baptist Church for providing meeting space and logistical support.

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