Community Helps Plan the Future of Fairmount Park

By Kristen Gillette |

a-small-waterfall-in-the-park.752.564.sOver the past few weeks, PennPraxis and Penn Project for Civic Engagement held a series of four community meetings to help craft A Community Vision and Action Plan for East and West Fairmount Park.

The plan hopes “to craft a vision that is based on community input and provides the Department with long-term recommendations as well as short-term project ideas to create the 21st century version of our 19th century watershed park,” according to a recent PlanPhilly article.

“The projects that we work on are based on broad civic engagement, meaning going out to the community, talking to lots of different folks about their values and uses and what they’d like to use, in this case the park, for,” PennPraxis Executive Director Harris Steinberg said. “So it’s important for us to capture as wide of cross section of the public’s input as possible before putting forth some recommendations for the future of the park.”

Many of the meetings brought up a lot of some of the same issues. “There was a lot of focus on safety and lighting, and in some communities, jobs, and the role the park can play in creating jobs,” Steinberg said.

Plan Philly’s coverage of the meetings also emphasized that people living in nearby neighborhoods are interested in economic development and education opportunities the park as well as safety and access to the parks. People wanted an easily accessed source for park happenings not just so they can participate, but also so they prepare for potential inconvenience when large events occur at the park.

“Over the summer when Praxis started getting their plans together to rollout their outreach plan, we had been working with what is now known has the East Fairmount Park Coalition,” said Jennifer Maher, Director of Park Stewardship at Fairmount Park Conservancy. The East Fairmount Park Coalition is made up of different stakeholders from the various institutions within the park as well as neighborhood groups and CDCs that border the park. They also run a similar group in West Fairmount Park.

“We were able to connect at Praxis with this great group we had already been working with,” Maher said. “We were able to plug in our coalition to their work.”  In the future, they’ll be using the information gathered in the future to see if they are on the right track for what they are thinking for their individual projects in the park.

Penn Praxis and Penn Project for Civic Engagement will use the information gathered from the community meetings and from research done over the summer to form both short- and longer-term recommendations for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the William Penn Foundation sometime in early winter.

Read more about what else happened and see videos of the meetings via Plan Philly.

Image via PlanPhilly.

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