Philadelphia Parks Alliance sent a survey to all candidates for City Council at Large, asking them specifically if they would support additional funding and how. Below is a report of those candidates who answered positively – and specifically.
In Tuesday’s primary election, the offices with the most control over Parks & Recreation funding are City Council seats, all 17 of which are on the line this year. But West Philadelphia voters will have primary choices only in the at-Large Council races. Each party’s voters (Republican or Democrat) get to field a slate of five candidates for these seven positions. The five top vote-getters in the Democrat primary will almost certainly go on to be elected in November. The top two Republican vote-getters in November will likely also become Council Members at Large.
Among the Democrats, a big field of 14 is vying for those five slots on May 17; among the Republicans, nine are competing.
As a rule, incumbents were more cautious and tempered in their answers. An asterisk indicates an incumbent.)
Several candidates proposed specific ways to raise dedicated funding for Parks & Recreation – some by specific new taxes, some by seeking new revenue sources from concessions and from private partnerships.
Ralph Blakney – A consideration should be given to an increase in car rental tax and utilize the proceeds to fund Philadelphia’s parks and recreation.
Sherrie Cohen – I would certainly vote for an increase in the Department’s budget. I would also consider proposing a dedicated tax on all tickets sold for the two professional sports stadiums and the professional sports arena. This would help us recoup the $30 million we spend each year on the mortgage for the two stadiums, and direct needed funds to our parks and recreation centers.
*Bill Green – I would support additional funding for the Department of Parks & Recreation once we have provided adequate funding for life-safety related City services including, for example, critical improvements in police and fire facilities.
*Bill Greenlee – Our goal is to increase funding
*Jim Kenney – I also fully support private investments in our parkland, with the involvement and approval of community groups and the Conservancy, to beautify and reclaim parkland areas. One example that comes to mind is the revitalization of part of FDR Park with a restaurant on Meadow Lake.
*Blondell Reynolds Brown – We should encourage concession and restaurant development, though only where appropriate and with strong community support.
Andy Toy – In order to offset lack of funding for city services we need greater corporation with non-profits, institutions, schools and other groups that are vested in our city. I would also like to see more ways to bring in quality contractors, such as food vendors and more nonprofits that can pay rentals that will help augment the existing City funding for the Parks. I do think there are facilities that are income producing that we do not market enough (e.g., some of the cookout areas that are already rented and even driving ranges).
Malcolm Lazin – While Philadelphia needs to reduce its expenditures, there should be an increase in funding for the Department of Parks & Recreation.
Joe McColgan – Utilize the open space as a revenue generator over the course of any given year with fee-driven events; all revenues collected by the Department of Parks & Recreation should stay within the department for the benefit of the community; -fully fund recreation centers, especially in the summer months keeping our youth active and out of harm’s way.
Elmer Money – Historically, park funding received a much greater share of Philadelphia’s operating budget and over time it has been one of the first things elected officials have cut. This has to reverse because parks and recreation add real value to property and quality of life. As a member of City Council, one of the best things I could do is get the parks budget a dedicated funding stream.
Dennis O’Brien – We need to invest in our relationships with the business community, neighbors and civic associations in order to do more with less.
David Oh – I would license vendors and establish fee based programs in our parks and use the funds as a dedicated revenue stream for parks and recreation. I would also seek to adequately fund, through public/private partnerships and grants, the Department of Parks & Recreation to maintain and develop our parks and recreation to be the assets this city needs in order to be a 21st city.
*Frank Rizzo – As we begin to climb out of these troubled economic times, it is imperative that more funding be allotted in the annual budget to allow for the improvement on the quality of services provided by this Department since its purpose is to promote the well-being of the City.