Big changes are coming to Vernon Park. On Wednesday, the Friends of Vernon Park held a community meeting at Center in the Park to announce the details of the renovation plans that have been in the works for more than a year.
A number of major improvements are scheduled to be made at the park, located on the 5800 block of Germantown Ave., thanks to a partnership between the Friends of Vernon Park, Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Philadelphia Water Department.
Funding for the project will total nearly $1 million, $700,000 of which is coming from Bass.
Bass said she was excited about the changes to the park.
“For a long time, people walked by the park and didn’t feel comfortable going into the park. We want to bring people back into Vernon Park as what it should be — a place for families and community to gather. And so I’m excited about what we’re going to do and what we’re going to see,” Bass said.
Jennifer Martel, the landscape architect for the project, laid out the plan details during the meeting. Some of the key changes to the park include landscape and pathway improvements, new children’s playground equipment, the addition of adult fitness equipment and restoration of the park’s monuments and statues.
Possibly the most popular change to the park is the addition of new lighting. According to Martel, all of the park’s light posts will be removed and replaced, spot lights will be installed to highlight statues and the Vernon House and stringed lights will illuminate the entrance pathway to the Vernon House.
Residents in attendance at the meeting lauded the plan, citing it as a good first step to drawing more positive activity to Vernon Park.
Ben Webster recently moved to Germantown from West Philadelphia. He said he hopes to see Vernon Park attract active community engagement like Clark Park.
“Clark Park, that’s been a good example to me of a really vibrant park that people care about and it’d be great to see that level of support and vibrancy in Vernon Park,” Webster said.
Longtime Germantown resident Garlen Capita said the changes will be great for her and her 7-year-old son who frequent the park for sports activities.
“My son plays soccer here at the park. He also plays T-ball during the summer. So it’ll be great for the park to be in better shape and the lighting will help it be safer. I think this is fantastic for all the neighborhood kids and the families. When people see more positive activity in the park, more families will start coming out,” Capita said.
Portions of the park will be closed during construction, which is scheduled to begin in March.
A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Tuesday, February 24 at 3 p.m. at the Vernon House, 5710-18 Germantown Ave.
Construction is expected to conclude with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by late June or early July.