Clark Park Planning Issues for 2011-2

So what do we do for an encore? Now that most our work on Park A is done, we ought to update you about the other projects we’ll be working on during the coming months.

Scheherazade. by Joe Mooney

Next on our plate is the installation of Joe Mooney’s sculpture “Scheherezade,” and we hope to gain the necessary approval to have this work installed at the southern tip of Clark Park. The paper trail will take a while to clear: installing a sculpture requires the approvals of USP (which has a lot of jurisdiction over the Park C area), and several layers of city government (including the Arts Commission). The FOCP has composed a written proposal to Parks and Rec for the sculpture, and we hope to give Mr. Mooney’s sculpture a good home in Clark Park.

Joe Mooney’s website, http://www.joemooneysculpture.com/, showcases his work.

Our next big project will be some more work in Park A in Spring 2012—this time, the Water Department will help us rebuild the sidewalk area along 43rd street, where the Farmers’ Market happens. The general plan is to expand the paving for a wider path; underneath, a water reclamation system, similar to that under the basketball court, will be installed. We’d hoped to have this done with the rest of the Park A project, but funding fell through on this particular project; but new funding’s been secured, and we believe that work will begin in Spring 2012.

One project that should spark a lot of community interest and discussion is repairing the long-term damage of the Bowl. As you know, the floor of the Bowl is a barren hardpan of dirt, and a little athletic activity or a stiff breeze creates whirlwinds of dust that make it hard to breathe down there. This isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s something of a health hazard. So we are currently consulting with experts in grass maintenance from many other institutions, including the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Parks and Recreation, to find out what a bowl restoration would entail. What’s caused this problem—has it simply been overuse, or is the Bowl ill-suited for maintaining a grass cover under heavy use? Is this something that can be repaired with occasional grass seeding? Or would it require aerating the soil, installing better drainage systems, laying down a sod layer, or improving the irrigation? Is this a project that requires a one-time only reconstruction, with regular maintenance, or would it require heroic efforts on an ongoing basis? Would it require closing down the Bowl, in part or in whole, and would this be required every year? Would it require limiting activities in the Bowl?

While we’ve heard many theories about these questions, we need to determine the best solutions before we raise the big question, namely: is this something the neighborhood wants to do? So, the Planning Committee is working to determine what would be required to restore the Bowl’s grass cover, and we’ll be keeping you informed about this issue as it develops.

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