On Saturday, volunteers across the city celebrated the LOVE Your Park Fall Service Day. A joint program of Parks and Recreation, Fairmount Park Conservancy, and the Philadelphia Park Friends Network, this event brought together residents to plant trees, rake leaves, and help prepare 100 neighborhood parks for the winter season.
The role that public green spaces play in our communities cannot be understated. Not only do parks provide recreation and community gathering sites, but these spaces also have an important function in how we can bring about positive changes in the social and economic realities of some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.
For example, consider Hunting Park. “For years, it was a troubled place before its revitalization started in 2009,” writes Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times. “Since then, crime has plummeted 89 percent, probably not all thanks to improvements to the park, though Philadelphia authorities attribute declines in prostitution and drug dealing with families taking over the park.”
Building on the success of this project, Mayor Kenney, who won the office on a platform that pledged to support our public green spaces, continues to champion Rebuilding Community Infrastructure aka “Rebuild,” “a $500 million program to revitalize neighborhood parks, recreation centers, playgrounds, and libraries across the city.” (Mayor Kenney will sit down with SBN Members next Wednesday at the sold-out Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable policy breakfast.)
Rebuild presents an opportune moment for triple bottom line businesses in the region. Not only does this include project management, material supply, design, and build needs, but it will also require a long-term vision for maintenance.
Especially when it comes to GSI implemented at these sites, these living systems require a maintenance plan to ensure that the stormwater regulations driving Green City, Clean Waters are being met.
In his article, Kimmelman describes an afternoon he spent at a handful of recreation centers in North and West Philadelphia. He saw the need for continued upkeep at these sites:
“Once great buildings, still bustling with children, they remain critical to their neighborhoods, barely held together today by bubble gum and underpaid, overworked custodians who are among the city’s unsung heroes. Changing demographics, new technologies and evolving demands by residents on parks and libraries to be complex community hubs require that these places receive more than just a fresh lick of paint or sod.
“They need extensive rethinking
And to ensure that the community has a voice in this rethinking, at the LOVE Your Park Fall Service Day, the Knight Foundation announced $3.28 million in new funding to Fairmount Park Conservancy to “support a citywide civic engagement strategy that will allow residents to shape activities in Philadelphia public spaces.”
As investments continue to be made in our public green spaces, SBN’s GSI Partners is proud to offer events and programs that build connections between businesses in the local green stormwater infrastructure industry. This includes the 2017 GSI Operations and Maintenance Course. Last week we hosted the classroom portion of this three-day educational experience, and we look forward to the field-day this Friday at Kemble Park and the La Salle University rain gardens.
In the coming weeks, we will explore the theme of maintenance in each of our weekly emails. Until then, we look forward to seeing you at this Thursday’s SBN Member Orientation at City CoHo (2401 Walnut Street).