Parks & Recreation Commission gets ready for warmer weather

Continuing its road show, Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation Commission held its bi-monthly meeting last night at Christy Rec Center in Southwest Philadelphia.

City Councilmember Jannie Blackwell made a surprise guest appearance midway into the meeting, assuming a place up at the Commission’s table and praised the center and the Commission.

Commission Chair Nancy Goldenberg led off with a wrap-up of Commission news, including a February meeting with three freshmen City Councilmembers — Mark Squilla, Cindy Bass, and Bobby Henon — that garnered reassurances of support for the parks and rec system.

Commissioner Goldenberg also announced that the Department’s date for budget hearings testimony was set for April 17, and that she would appear at public hearings scheduled for May 7.

And, she announced that the Philadelphia Historical Commission had recently added a second park, Penn Treaty Park to the city’s historic register. It joins FDR Park. Next up, Committee representatives presented brief updates.

These included the launch of the Commission’s Facebook page (video below) by the Communications Committee, and the securing of several new concessionaires at Burholme Park Golf Center, LoVE Park, and Lloyd Hall, as reported by Revenue Enhancement Chair Pete Hoskins.

Commissioner Hoskins also announced that his committee had begun a best practices survey on safety issues and would be talking with representatives from the parks & recreation departments of Portland, OR, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and New York City.

Commissioner Jeff Hackett presented the PaRC Star Award to Gregorio Cojulun for his community service to Malcolm X Park.

Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis next offered the Department’s report. He focused on budget and safety concerns. The money, he said, would be the same as last year. “I’m not jumping for joy — but it’s way better than getting less.

On safety, the Commission’s theme for 2012, DiBerardinis said that the system would ensure that adequate police details were present at outdoor basketball games and swimming pools. He also emphasized that police would be vigilant for ATV use on park grounds.

DiBerardinis then introduced Erica Smith Fichman, the manager in charge of the department’s recently announced tree giveaway program, TreePhilly. Her rather lengthy presentation offered a few new details, namely that a total of 2,000 yard trees are to be given away.

She also announced that a separate pilot street tree program would soon begin identifying possible sites and notifying homeowners. All homeowners would need to do would be to let officials know whether or not they were interested in receiving a free street tree — this, as opposed to the current program, which is request-driven.

Ed Fagan, also of the department, finished up with an overview of the coming Love Your Park Week, May 12 – May 19. Some 45 events — from the dedication of Sister Cities Park to speed dating at LoVE Park — have been announced, he said, and more than 40 groups have so far pledged to participate in the day of service. The evening concluded with several public comments on issues of safety, staffing, and hours.

Contact the reporter at jgreco@planphilly.com and follow her on Twitter @joanngreco

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