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Ever since he was ten years old, West Philadelphian Henry Bratcher has spent many afternoons relaxing in Clark Park, located at 43rd and Baltimore streets.

And now, almost 50 years later, Bratcher says the park has never looked better.

"It's a quiet, pretty spot," he explained from a wrought iron bench in the park. "That's why I like it here. It's much nicer now."

The improvements Bratcher notices are largely a result of joint efforts by the University City District and the Friends of Clark Park. Thanks to their fundraising, an independent landscape contractor was hired to look after the park, and has been restoring walkways, cleaning up lawns and mulching trees.

The bulk of the money to support contractor Moon Site Management was raised early last month at the "First Annual Party for the Park," a fundraiser to support the renewal of the nine-acre park, the largest public space in University City.

The event raised around $85,000 -- well over the $70,000 goal set. $25,000 had already been raised in private donations.

According to UCD spokeswoman Allison Kelsey, this clean-up is "real basic stuff that makes a difference but isn't as startling."

Users of Clark Park say the maintenance effort makes a big difference.

Pat Billa, who works on 42nd Street, said the clean-up effort is obvious.

"It seems like they've been doing a lot," she said. "It's much cleaner."

For the future, though, Billa said the clean-up was nice, but that she would like to see the development more activities for children in the park.

And her granddaughter, third-grader Mercedes Hampton, reminded Billa that she and her friends want a new playground.

UCD officials are currently seeking grants from outside foundations to provide for such activities -- and to help provide for major capital improvements like more playgrounds and new basketball courts.

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