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Construction in Clark Park replaced pavement with gravel. In the past, rain would collect in the center, interfering with a bi-weekly farmers market. Credit: , ,

The north side of Clarence H. Clark Park is slated to reopen to the public on June 16, seven months after its original tentative completion date.

Tucked a few blocks away from Penn’s campus, Park A — the part of Clark Park at 43rd Street from Baltimore Avenue to Chester Avenue — has been undergoing renovations since September.

Officials had set last Thanksgiving as the planned reopening day. However, Frank Chance, member and former president of Friends of Clark Park, said in November that the project had fallen behind schedule because of the wait for inspectors’ reviews and that the reopening would be pushed back to May or June to ensure that plants in the park grow properly.

The lights went on in Park A for the first time last Thursday. Last Friday, officials met to plan the placement of recycling receptacles, one of the few remaining details before the park reopens, according to Friends of Clark Park.

Some of the new renovations to Park A include a new park center with moveable tables and chairs, a new lighting system and newly planted trees.

"There were a number of goals in the design of the space which had suffered from a 'Tragedy of the Commons,'" wrote Bryan Hanes, whose company is the landscape architect and lead designer of the redesigned park A, in an email. "Primarily, we were interested in replacing deteriorated paving, opening the tree canopy, rejuvenating compacted soils and creating a social space at the center of the park. The park will function in much the same way as it has in the past, but we hope that the new central space will provide a platform for greater social interaction and a variety of events within the park."

The new renovation addresses two additional long-existing problems ­— invasive trees and storm drainage issues.

The park center was formerly paved. As a result water would collect and flood the park center and its surrounding areas, making it muddy after a rainstorm. The originally paved park center has been replaced with gravel, so that water can drain more easily.

“There used to be a big puddle right in the middle of the market when it rained,” said Jon Glyn, manager of the Clark Park Farmers’ Market. “Now people don’t have to waste a nice pair of socks to enjoy the market.” The farmers’ market, run by The Food Trust, is Philadelphia’s largest.

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