By Andrew P. Goodman, Penn Praxis
This report is to let citizens know that the “Community Vision for East and West Fairmount Park” planning process wrapped up last month and presented its final report to the public at Smith Playground on the evening of Tuesday, May 13. The whole team — Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, PennPraxis and the Commission on Parks and Recreation – is so grateful for the Parkside Journal for helping us spread the word about our public input meetings in Fall 2013.
For those who attended our meeting at Discovery Charter School, thank you so much for your feedback and we hope you are pleased with the results and what they could bring to the community.
The vision, entitled “The New Fairmount Park,” is the culmination of a year-long research, engagement and planning process that aims to give all Philadelphians easier access to East and West Fairmount Park —ensuring that it will thrive for generations to come.
East and West Park is the heart of our park system, and its health is a reflection of our health. Seven million people use the park each year, and 1.1 million people receive water from the park, while neighborhoods from Parkside to Brewerytown struggle every day with issues of park access.
We based the recommendations in this vision on input from over 1,000 citizens, with particular emphasis on park users and residents from nearby communities. An 86-organization Advisory Group of park and community leaders provided leadership and guidance throughout the process.
The map above summarizes our key long-term and transformative recommendations, which include:
• Make it easy for citizens to get to, into and through the park
• Create opportunities for citizens to enjoy nature and water
• Offer new ways to use the park
• Give pedestrians and cyclists priority over motorists
• Engage citizens in the long-term care and support of the park.
The project team placed its most detailed analysis on five neighborhood focus areas, one of which is in East Parkside and another in West Parkside. Recommendations for this section of the park include:
• Pending a park-wide traffic study, de-pave or remove 41st Street and South Concourse Drive within the park to give pedestrian access priority into West Fairmount Park.
• Design the edge along Parkside Avenue with spaces that neighbors will use: as a linear rain garden for Parkside Avenue’s stormwater runoff, but also as a series of actively programmed spaces for the adjacent community that could offer athletic courts, picnic areas, shade structures, community band stands, orchards and playgrounds.
Work with the Fairmount Park Conservancy to build the “Parkside Edge” project, the focal point of which is a new play space between Kelly Pool and School of the Future to provide new recreation opportunities for nearby youth of all ages.
• Improve 40th, 41st, 42nd, Belmont Avenue, 50th and 52nd Streets south of the park as key links for neighborhood residents to access West Fairmount Park.
• Give Black Road a sidewalk on its north side and a crossing at MLK Drive so neighbors can safely walk to the riverfront.
• Build a signature pedestrian-only bridge to connect East and West Fairmount Park across the Schuylkill River.
• Restore the “Moses” Fountain to become a park gateway that celebrates East and West Fairmount Park’s mission to protect and celebrate public water.
• Improve Centennial Lake as a habitat reserve, and turn a portion of it into a fishing pond with supporting amenities.
• Add traffic lights at Parkside Avenue’s intersections with 49th and 50th Streets, to slow traffic and allow for a safer pedestrian connection to West Fairmount Park.
• Restore the entire course of Lansdowne Creek and build a trail alongside it to provide a safe and beautiful slice of nature for Parkside residents that links citizens to some of the most gorgeous moments in the park.
Thank you again for all your time and patience as we all work for the future of our beautiful Park.