Category Archives: Community Happenings

The New Parkside Edge

by Michael Burch

The above picture captures the official ribbon cutting for the Parkside Edge project in East Parkside along Parkside Avenue. Here we see City officials, including Mayor Kenney and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell surrounded by local residents and stakeholders. Jamie Gauthier, the Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, is cutting the ribbon.

A major milestone in community development was reached early this summer when the Fairmount Park Conservancy officially opened the parkside edge portion of the Centennial Commons Project in East Parkside. The Edge Project is a $5.4 million dollar renovation of West Fairmount Park along Parkside Avenue, stretching from 41st Street to West Memorial Hall Drive.

The project is designed to bring traffic calming elements, new lighting, plants, and seating to the area. Local residents who used this area before these changes were implemented remember a region covered with very sparse areas of grass, a few large trees, and just plain dirt. The area was poorly lit and had very little seating. That’s all changed now. The new park area has over 60 new trees, rain gardens, upgraded lighting, walking paths and a porch system with unique wooden swings that were modeled after benches first, used at the Philadelphia Centennial.

The Philadelphia Centennial of 1876 is extremely important to the history of Parkside. It is on these grounds in Parkside where the world celebration was held. Remnants of the Centennial can still be seen throughout the park area. Memorial Hall (now the home of The Please Touch Museum), Ohio House and two comfort stations are the only standing structures from the era.

The planned renovation of this area is not done. As discussed in previous articles in the Journal, this is simply the completion of phase one of the Centennial Commons Project. The hope is work can begin on phase two of the project early next year. Plans are underway to raise approximately 8 million dollars for the next phase of the project. This is a huge investment for the Parkside community.

“We are investing so much in the Parkside Community because we believe in this community, and are incredibly inspired by the energy, passion, and commitment of the neighborhood leaders we’ve been fortunate to work with.   ” Said Jamie Gauthier, the Park Conservancy’s executive director.

“Our commitment to Parkside also stems from our belief that every community deserves access to high-quality, well-designed public spaces where they can connect, gather, and recreate. We saw, as many of the residents did, the lack of park and recreational amenities. We saw the need for investment in our beautiful Fairmount Park, and we wanted to work with the community and our City partners to fix those things.”

Plans for this second phase call for having a year round play space for park visitors. There would be a Youth Programs building where specifically planned activities would take place, an ice skating loop, a climbing wall, restrooms and swings. All of these attractions and amenities may serve to drive new development into the Parkside area.


Centennial Village Changes West Parkside

Picture shows the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Centennial Village grand opening in West Parkside near 52nd and Parkside. Mayor Jim Kenney, State Senator Vincent Hughes, Councilmen Curtis Jones, were among political leaders and community stakeholders on hand for the ceremony. Community Leader Lucinda Hudson can be seen in the center of the picture.

The above image is a picture of the ribbon cutting celebrating the opening of the Centennial Village project in West Parkside. The event took place on Thursday, August 23, 2018 and was a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, Community Ventures and the Parkside Association of Philadelphia. Seemingly, overnight the new project has transformed 52nd Street between Columbia and Parkside Avenues and connecting areas by rejuvenating former vacant lots and run down buildings.

Far from happening overnight the project took more than 20 months to complete. The new project provides 51 units of affordable housing and 7,227 square feet of commercial space.

The full project includes a 30-unit apartment building, a mixed-use building with six residential units and two commercial spaces, and the renovation and new construction of seven single-family homes and one duplex.

“The completion of Centennial Village is a pivotal part of the revitalization efforts in the Parkside community,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This project eliminated a large area of blight, and brought more affordable housing units to our city. Projects like these impact levels of crime, property values, and community pride. The new apartments, homes, and commercial spaces showcase the City’s continuous commitment to invest in Philadelphia neighborhoods.”

“Parkside Association has been working to build and preserve this West Park Community since 1997,” said Lucinda Hudson, Parkside Association of Philadelphia’s Executive Director and long time community advocate. “The Shopping Center was one milestone. In partnership with Community Ventures again for this latest residential and commercial project, Centennial Village. This will further the growth of West Parkside area. Thank God! God willing more projects will be coming to the West Parkside area.”

For more information on this project go to

Grammy Nominated and Award Winning Children’s Music Artists Perform at Smith Memorial Playground for 5th Annual Kidchella Music Festival

Philadelphia, PA (June 28, 2018) The 5th annual Kidchella Music Festival is in full swing at Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse with remaining concerts on Friday, July 20 and August 17!  Each date will feature live music in the 6 ½ acre Playground by nationally acclaimed Children’s Music artists, youth performances, arts stations, and yummy food trucks.   

 At 4pm families are invited to Smith for free play in the Playground and family fun in the Youth Arts Zone which includes a youth music stage, arts stations, and giveaways.  Families may purchase dinner from a variety of popular food trucks or bring food for a picnic in the Playground.  

 The main concert will begin at 6pm and will feature a fantastic lineup of family-friendly music curated by Jeff Bogle of and emceed by Kathy O’Connell of WXPN Kids Corner.  Shine and the Moonbeams (Soul/R&B) and Grammy-nominated The Alphabet Rockers (positive Hip Hop) will perform in July and Red Yarn (foot stomping Americana Folk) and Vered and the Babes (Doo Woop inspired Acoustic Rock) will perform in August. 

Smith’s Executive Director Meg Wise noted, “Kidchella started in 2014 as a small performance on our front lawn for an audience of a few hundred people and grew to a summer-long concert series in the Playground welcoming over 2,000 children and adults from all sections of the City and surrounding suburbs as well as out-of-state visitors. This year, we are excited to give as many families as possible the opportunity to experience this awesome event by offering discounted tickets to PA ACCESS cardholders and free admission for families participating in our Play For All community programs.” 

 Kidchella is a rain or shine outdoor event.  Tickets are $10 per person (children age 1+ and adults) or $5 for Smith members and PA ACCESS Cardholders.  Purchase tickets, memberships, and learn more at:

 Support for Kidchella provided in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, MetroKids, Power Crunch, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Inspire, Kia Motors America, Simple Society, Honest Tea, and Lee’s Hoagie House.  

Shine and the Moonbeams are singer-songwriter Shawana Kemp and guitarist John Heagle, two New York musicians who have collectively been in every musical genre from Musical Theatre to the circus. Learn more at Shine & the Moonbeams (Facebook) 

 Alphabet Rockers are known as the premiere children’s hip hop artists who focus on social change and racial justice. Learn more at  


Contact: Zoe Lowry                                                                                                    215.765.4325 x101 

Indego Bike Profile

by Manuel McDonnell-Smith

Studies show that there are many benefits from riding bikes. It only takes a few hours a week to improve your general health. Riding is low impact, a good muscle workout, fun and easy to do. Check out the profile of Al Harris and share his Indego Bike experience.

Al Harris, from 32nd Street in Mantua is the founder of Team OverTime and Cancer Who? His foundation helps people with Cancer by going to chemo, radiation, doctor’s appointments and more. Al’s also a regular Indego Bike Rider and ambassador for the service.

PJ: What’s been the best thing about Indego for you?

Al: “I think the bikes have encouraged me to move around the city more. Just from riding from station to station, I’ve gotten to experience the scenery and much more of the neighborhoods.

PJ: How about people who are afraid of riding or getting back on a bike, what would you say?

Al: Just using the bikes is a great experience. They are not super heavy bikes, they are great to move around in, easy to switch, and fun to ride.

PJ: Tell us about one of your favorite rides using Indego?

Al: One of my best rides was from 41st and Lancaster back to Drexel University. I really enjoyed being able to be up close with all of the scenery and being able to see and experience differently types of people on the ride.

Indego & Al will be collaborating on a group bike ride and walk at the end of May. Find out more about this event and his organization at


New Parkside Fields Announced


For Immediate Release: June 20, 2018
Contact: David Gould, 267-240-2010,

Parkside Fields Announced as One of First Rebuild Projects to Start Later This Year

PHILADELPHIA – Today, at an event at Parkside Evans Playground, Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Councilman Curtis Jones and City officials to announce Parkside Fields as one of the first projects to launch under Rebuild.

The project will create two new public fields that will serve the schools and sports programs in and around the Parkside community – many of which have limited options for home fields to practice or play on.

“Too often I hear stories about our youth sports teams who have to travel to the suburbs to compete,” said Mayor Kenney. “They don’t have fields that are good enough to play on in their neighborhood, so they are forced to travel to the suburbs to play. Our kids should have the same quality facilities as the teams they compete against and have the opportunity to play in their own community. They deserve a place they are proud of.”

The Parkside Fields project will be completed in two phases. The first phase will convert a grassy area near the Parkside Evans Playground on Parkside Avenue into a public practice field for many of the neighborhood sports teams. The second phase of the project will renovate a second field that will be used for games.

“For some, it’s a field of dreams,” said Councilman Curtis Jones of the upcoming Rebuild project. “For inner-city youth, it’s a pathway to scholarships, college campuses, and a better life.”

The first phase of the project will start this year as a part of a small set of sites that will launch using the $8 million in funding that has already been approved for Rebuild in the City’s FY2018 capital budget. Most projects, including the second phase of the Parkside Fields project, will begin after the majority of Rebuild’s funding becomes available through bond proceeds that will be repaid by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. The bonds won’t be issued until after the tax has been upheld by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court.

The other Rebuild sites expected to start this year will be announced in the coming weeks.


Rebuild is a historic investment in Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers, playgrounds and libraries. Rebuild seeks to improve community spaces, empower and engage communities, and promote economic opportunity in the design and construction industries through diversity and inclusion. 


Press Release

Cari Feiler Bender: 610-416-1216

What:   Ribbon cutting for Centennial Commons 

Join city officials, nonprofits leaders, and community representatives to formally open the first phase of this new park-within-the-park.

When:   Wednesday, June 13, 2018 (Rain or Shine)

12pm-12:15pm   Walk-through and photo op with VIPs

12:15pm-1pm     Speaking program

1pm                           Ribbon Cutting

Where:   Parkside Avenue at 41st Street, West Fairmount Park


Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia

Jamie Gauthier, Executive Director, Fairmount Park Conservancy

Michael Di Berardinis, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Vanessa Lowery Brown, PA State Representative

Jannie Blackwell, Philadelphia City Council

Judilee Reed and Cara Ferrentino, William Penn Foundation

Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Program Director, Knight Foundation

Representative, Philadelphia Streets Department

Representative, Philadelphia Commerce Department

Debra McCarty, Commissioner, Philadelphia Water Department

Chris Spahr and Joyce Smith, Centennial Commons CDC

Calla Cousar, East Parkside Residents Association

Details: This site was the central hub of the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 but has been under supported for decades. With support from the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation, Fairmount Park Conservancy and its partners retained Studio Bryn Hanes to upgrade a 67,000-square-foot-area along Parkside Avenue.  The new design features freshly laid walking paths on what was before simply lawn, a rain garden featuring native plants, giant porch swings, and 68 new trees that will increasingly provide shade as they grow. Future phases of the project will be announced at the event.


Fairmount Park Conservancy exists to champion Philadelphia’s parks. We lead capital projects and historic preservation efforts, foster neighborhood park stewardship, attract and leaverage investments, and develop innovative programs throughout the 10, 200 acres that include Fairmount Park and more than 200 neighborhood parks around the city. For more information, please visit, join us at, and follow us on instagram and Twitter @myphillypark.