Clark Park, one of University City’s only green spots, will be getting a facelift in coming months.
The north side of Clark Park, known as Park A — which spans from 43rd to 44th streets, and from Baltimore to Chester avenues — will undergo extensive revitalization over the summer. Efforts will include re-plumbing, repaving and mild pruning of trees.
The renovations are primarily aimed at improving water drainage, since the park collects puddles and mud during rainfall.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation Natural Resources and the City of Philadelphia are funding the project, with grants totaling $500,000.
An additional $100,000, which has yet to be secured, is needed to fund renovations along 43rd Street and pay for the design work, according to Frank Chance, president of Friends of Clark Park, the group heading the renovation work.
Penn has been involved, both directly by providing $25,000 in funding for design planning, and indirectly through initiatives of University City District, which has been involved with the design and fund raising process from the beginning, he said.
Construction is expected to begin in June, and could take eight weeks to three months, Chance said. Events including farmers’ markets will continue as scheduled during construction, although they will be relocated to Park B, on the southern side of Chester Avenue.
Soil has become densely packed over the span of decades, making it difficult for water to get properly absorbed, said Brian Siano, vice president of Friends of Clark Park.
Plans for Park A include decreasing the number of pathways to increase green space, replacing concrete with loose gravel and creating underground pits filled with stone that improve water retention.
Pathway redevelopment will also improve safety and aesthetics. A number of walkways are severely weather-worn and cracked with tree roots peeking through, Siano said. He added that in some cases, the pavement can pose health risks to the trees.
The gravel will also make it easier for students of the adjacent HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy to access their building by providing a surface that is more wheelchair accessible, he said.
The area where the farmers’ market is held will be paved, so that vendors and customers can avoid trudging in dirt and mud when it rains, Siano said.
The design focuses on maintaining the “meditative” character of Park A, which has more shade and is quieter than the rest of the park, he added. Construction is intended to improve the park by making it “healthier.”
Although controversial among community members, some trees will be removed from Park A, according to Chance. Tree removal will promote the overall health of the park, since trees that are old, diseased or too close to neighboring trees to grow in the future will be removed.
Additional renovations include more evenly distributing lighting and electrical circuitry.
The efforts are part of a comprehensive renewal plan developed by University City District and Friends of Clark Park in 2001. Past improvements include the renovation of the basketball court, the addition of recycling bins and the consolidation of two playgrounds into one.Comments powered by Disqus
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