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    Despite posh setting, Rittenhouse Square faces budget woes

    Although the Friends of Rittenhouse are some of the wealthiest people in Philadelphia, even with a budget of $450,000, the park is costing more that the Friends can raise.

    Spring has sprung in Philadelphia, but sometimes birds and flowers aren’t enough. Rittenhouse Square is a perennial favorite park in the city, and a citizen’s group is struggling to keep it that way.

    People with lunches, people with dogs, people with flutes – for many, Rittenhouse Sqaure is a springtime Mecca.

    “It’s my favorite part of Philadelphia,” says Kara Bergman. “It’s so pretty, especially with the flowers right now.”

    The flowers are there thanks to the group “Friends of Rittenhouse Square.”  The park is owned and maintained by Parks and Recreation, but it’s the Friends that give it its high polish.

    It’s not cheap. Although the Friends of Rittenhouse are some of the wealthiest people in Philadelphia, even with a budget of $450,000, the park is costing more that the Friends can raise. So the city has allowed them to open the park to new revenue-generating ideas, like party rentals and restaurant seating.

    Some users of the park, like Ed Hunter, would rather not see that.

    “If it was critical to maintaining the park and keeping it in good order, it’s not so detrimental that it would ruin the experience,” says Hunter. “But all other things being equal, I think the park is pretty pleasant as is.”

    The Fairmount Park director, Mark Focht, says the city will continue basic maintenance duties, but it can’t meet the high expectations of the Friends of Rittenhouse Square.

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