Fairmount Park beats odds as world-renowned

Artist Evan Schukis enjoys the view from Fairmount Park.
RIKARD LARMA/METRO

Travel website Frommers yesterday placed Philadelphia among the world’s best cities for public parks, noting the scope of Fairmount Park’s

9,200 acres and the wonderfully interwoven history of old mansions and museums.

“The parks are home to more than 200 historic buildings, America’s oldest zoo, six golf courses, cycling trails, performance venues and an array of landscaped gardens and wooded areas,” the website observed while ranking Philadelphia in its top 10 list.

But ask park advocates much closer to home, like Lauren Bornfield of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, and they’ll likely say the city’s parks are like flowers that blossom without expensive fertilizer.

“Imagine how extraordinary our system would be and what could be possible and how maintained it would be if it was adequately funded,” said Bornfield, executive director of the alliance. “The tragedy is that it’s not.”
It’s no secret that the expansive Fairmount Park system has received the same level of funding — give or take $2 million or $3 million — for the past four decades. Since the early 1970s, the city has annually allocated $12 million to $15 million per year, according to the city’s longtime Fairmount Park top official, Mark Focht.

Inflation has gradually forced cuts to maintenance, employment and programming. So how does Philadelphia rank with the world’s best like Paris and Tokyo and Chicago? Bornfield credits what she calls “$5 million last year in sweat equity.” Focht touts the city’s partnerships with private donors.

“We have this extraordinary resource,” Bornfield pleaded yesterday, echoing her annual message during the past several city budget seasons. “Let’s leverage it and make kids healthy and fit and provide it for families and visitors and all Philadelphians.”

Steady funding

Exact funding for city parks the last three years hasn’t been available since the Fairmount Park Commission merged with the Department of Recreation.
   
But Focht said yesterday that the park system received a small dose of good news in Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2012-2013 budget proposal that would begin July 1 when Nutter held the line on funding for the first time in three years.
   
He also noted capital spending in the next couple years that will expand the city’s tree canopy by giving out thousands of free trees to property owners and improving safety measures like lighting at park and recreation facilities.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Accused Boston bomber’s sister faces judge over bomb…

The sister of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber faced a judge in New York Tuesday on charges that she told her husband's ex-girlfriend she could "put a bomb where you…

National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Arts

Artist Laurent La Gamba uses cars to create…

An artist managed to make his friends and family ‘disappear’ – by blending them in with their surroundings using paint.

The Word

The Word: Amanda Bynes returns to form

You know who we haven't heard from in a while? Amanda Bynes. Well, that dry spell is over because Bynes is back! Her parents' conservatorship…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Travel

Top celebrity wedding spots from Cheapflights.com

Cheapflights.com picks the best places around the world to tie the knot like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. As George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wed…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…