Film, food and a vision of the future of Lovett Park

Mt. Airy residents got a preview of what the park adjoining the Lovett Memorial Library may look like in the future. Mt. Airy USA (MAUSA), together with the Community Design Collaborative (CDC), presented to the public conceptual design drawings of a re-envisioned Lovett Park.  The event was held at the park Friday evening in conjunction with MAUSA’s Moonlight Movie screening.

Calling the library and its grounds a “terrific asset,” MAUSA’s Executive Director, Anuj Gupta said the park is located at a critical juncture in the neighborhood’s commercial corridor.

Gupta explained that MAUSA has two goals for Lovett Park -to create a community-driven master plan to attract more residents and to eventually transform the park into a destination green space for all of Philadelphia.

After three public meetings last year to identify what the community want in an outdoor  gathering space, CDC finalized schematic plans for the park’s redesign in February.

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Ashton Jones, one of CDC’s project volunteers, said that from a city planning viewpoint the park is currently considered a “dead zone.” The design team needed to first identify why the park is under-utilized and find a solution to increase traffic.

What’s in store

Together, CDC and MAUSA came to one major conclusion regarding the site. “There needs to be programming,” Jones stated.

One of the proposed designs for the space is a small terraced amphitheater for outdoor performances. The  plans also include a plaza with café seating, a reading garden, chess tables, and a redesign of the area around the library entrance.

A thorny issue

Not everyone agrees with the proposed design overhaual. Irv Miller, a member of Friends of Lovett Memorial Library expressed his disagreement with MAUSA over some of the park’s design elements. One aspect of the proposed design would mean removing numerous rose bushes along the park’s perimeter wall on Germantown Avenue. The roses were planted by the Friends of Lovett Memorial Library. “They’re taking out what we’ve been working on for years,” lamented Miller, who tends the library’s gardens.

Gupta said MAUSA feels the roses present a visual barrier to the park. “You could look upon it the other way – it attracts people,” countered Vivian Schatz, another member of Friends of Lovett Memorial Library. She said she was disappointed that MAUSA had not come to their group before initiating the project.

MAUSA came to CDC in 2011 for a service grant award to create a preliminary plan for Lovett Park. CDC assembled a team of volunteers – including Jones, a city planner, and landscape architectural designers, Ari Miller and Alexa Bosse – to come up with studies, zoning considerations, schematic designs and cost estimates for the project. MAUSA can now use this information as a tool to raise funds for the park.

Next steps

Elizabeth Moselle, MAUSA’s Director of Commercial Corridor revitalization, said the project will now proceed to the next development stage through the rest of the summer. Details such as lighting, plantings and nature play objects will be discussed in another round of community and stakeholder meetings. “It will continue to be a collaborative process,” remarked Gupta.

In addition to bringing its successful Moonlight Movies series to Lovett Park for a second time this summer, the organization intends to bring live performances and music to the space. The library grounds are key in in MAUSA’s mission to improve economic development along the Germantown Avenue commercial corridor.

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