Be a Friend of Penn Treaty Park

Sept. 10

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Do you like jazz, champagne, and Penn Treaty Park? The Friends of Penn Treaty hope you do and you’re free Sunday night.

From 4 to 6:30 p.m., the non-profit group will hold its annual fundraiser, Champagne in the Park. This year, in addition to the bubbly, a light-but-fancy supper, gourmet finger desserts, and jazz by The Young Lions, event-goers will get a look at the park’s future.

Located at Delaware Avenue and Beach Streets, Penn Treaty Park is a rare slice of public green space along the Delaware River. The Friends used $100,000 in grants to hire landscape architect Bryan Hanes to create a master plan for the park’s future development. His work was based on a series of community meetings. “We will have the final plans out and viewable” Sunday night, Hanes said. “I will be standing around the drawings most of the time, available for conversation and to answer questions.”

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The plan calls for a promenade ending in a pier cantilevered over the water, an event canopy festooned with solar panels, wetlands, a pebble beach and a café. The drawings will be virtually identical to those presented at an earlier community meeting. Hanes and his team are still working on a final piece of the planning puzzle – determining how the plan can best be phased in, and how much each phase will cost. Those elements are expected to be unveiled sometime in October.

Ah, the cost. Even though Hanes and company haven’t come up with a price tag yet, everyone knows The Friends have no where near enough money to implement the plan.

Win Akeley, co-chair of the master plan steering committee, said everyone knew the best way to raise money for major improvements was to have a concrete vision to share with would-be funders. That effort will begin “immediately” after the Friends and their architect settle on what is a do-able first phase, considering the economy and other factors, Akeley said.

Money raised at Sunday’s event will go into an account with the majority of proceeds from the previous three Champagnes, said Akeley, who is also the friends’ treasurer. There’s more than $12,000 from the annual events, plus about $25,000 in state Department of Community and Economic Development grant money.

The Friends have spent some money on a new bench, park events such as Movie Night, and on plastic bags and a dispenser to help clean up after four-legged park visitors. But Akeley said that there was a conscious decision to hold off any significant spending until the master plan was in place, so that purchases would be in line with the vision.

The money may be used on hardscape improvements, or to bring more events to the park, he said.

The Friends say “snappy dress” or business attire is appropriate. Tickets are available at the event for $45, but larger donations are welcome, said Champagne In the Park co-chair Nancy Martino. Her co-chair and long-time park activist Barbara Moorehead designed a keepsake for anyone who contributes more than $75. Moorehead etched into glass an image of The Great Elm, beneath which William Penn is believed to have signed a peace treaty with the Lenape Indians – the event for which the park is named.

Champagne was donated by Moore Brothers, and food by Bar Ferdinand, Cavanaugh’s River Deck, Fork, Johnny Brenda’s and several other local businesses. All Seasons Catering by Shackamaxon provided the desserts. And the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation provided the stage and covered printing and publicity costs.

Martino is hopeful that about 200 people will turn up for the event, including some elected and appointed officials.

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