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June 04, 2015

Parks for the People

Nonprofit aims to put a park within 10-minute walk of all Philadelphians

Parks and Recreation Urban Planning
Philadelphia Playground GEORGE WIDMAN/AP

Children play on modern-design playground equipment at Franklin Square.

Philadelphia is on a mission to convert its dilapidated open spaces into green, safe havens one park rehabilitation project at a time.

The program, which is called the Parks for People–Philadelphia, is operated under the umbrella of the national Trust for Public Land and the city of Philadelphia’s Green2015 initiative. Its goal is to create suitable green spaces within a 10-minute walking distance of every home in the city.

To make it happen, it has targeted nine public schoolyards and recreation centers in need of some TLC.

"One in eight Philadelphia residents does not have access to a public park or green space within a 10-minute walk from home." - Green2015.

“Our [selected] sites in Philadelphia are focused primarily on underserved areas and areas that haven’t been invested in in a long time in a substantial way, and we selected sites that really needed improvements and had dense communities around them,” Danielle Denk, program manager at Trust for Public Land told writer Kristen Gillette of Generocity.

Rittenhouse Square Park
Amanda Diaz, bottom left, reads a book as Ciara Perez, top left, and Chris Elam sit in a tree during the unseasonably warm weather at Rittenhouse Square park on March 13, 2012, in Philadelphia.  (Alex Brandon/AP)

An independent study commissioned by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in preparation for the project found one in eight city residents don't have access to a public park or green space within a 10-minute walk of their homes.

Two of the nine parks have been completed, including Hank Gathers Recreation Center and William Dick Elementary School in Strawberry Mansion section of the city.

The others are the Jose Manuel Collazo Park, Conestoga Playground37th & Mt. Vernon Playground, Lanier Playground, John H. Taggart School, Edwin M. Stanton School, and John M. Patterson School.

Read more on the program here.