UPDATE: According to the Newbold Civic Association, 84% of the comment cards submitted at the meeting were in favor of the green space.
When the project was presented at past meetings, it was mostly favored by the community. Now based on the community reaction at last night’s meeting at the recreation center, there is a split in the neighborhood, mostly based on the South Philly hot-topic issues of parking and dog poop.
At the last meeting in 2014, two plans were presented for different locations for the green space through the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green Cities, Clean Waters program. Now due to the “petroleum odor” that was detected in the originally planned location, plans have now been shifted to place this green space in a 50-60 ft. wide by 75 ft. long space next to the current plaza area at the recreation center.
The community was pretty outspoken and heated about this potential green space last night. The small meeting room at the recreation center was packed with 60 people, in addition to 20 or 30 more waiting in the hallway. Those in opposition of the project mostly cited the loss of parking spaces and the potential for this green space to just become another dog park as two of the main issues here. Many of the opposers were seniors who use the parking weekly when they play bocce at the center and those who have grown up with Guerin.
Those in favor mostly expressed the positives of having additional green space here. Since the parking lot at the recreation center is not full the majority of the time, some believe this is a great use of the space. A few neighbors expressed that despite their proximity to Guerin, they still travel to parks that are farther away because of the quality of the current park space here. “Why can’t this be a better park?,” one neighbor said. Most of the community did agree that the recreation center could use improvements and a better outdoor space.
Many of the concerns of the community surrounded the upkeep of this green space once it opens. Will dog poop be a problem in the park? Will the area be regularly cleaned? These were a few of the general questions that arose.
So what does this neighborhood split mean for the project? The representatives from the Philadelphia Water Department said that they’ve never seen a project like this become completely scrapped. So despite last night’s heated meeting with a split of the old and the new in the neighborhood, there’s still a chance for this project to move forward.