The Philadelphia Cultural Alliance & Parks Alliance teamed to host a mayoral panel discussion at the Free Library last Monday. It was the best chance for park supporters to hear the candidates’ thoughts on parks.
Lynne Abraham pressed her fondness for Independence Mall as the ideal park. She hailed the influx of private-charity money from the Knight Foundation & the William Penn Foundation as the best way to fund park improvements. Current PPR Deputy Mayor Mike DiBerardinis is “a keeper,” in her words, whom she would seek to retain as Mayor.
Melissa Bailey, the Republican candidate, runs her 4-year-old child in Starr Garden’s youth-soccer program. She insisted that education comes first in the City budget but said the PPR budget could be increased.
Nelson Díaz is drawn to the Forbidden Drive, where he ran for many years. He deplored the dilapidation of too many rec centers & vowed he would increase the PPR budget by 10%.
Jim Kenney said his dream park is Franklin Square, which he called “the best children’s park in the USA.” He called Rec workers “heroes” who had inspired him as a youth. He thought advertising & other marketing opportunities could boost revenue for parks.
Doug Oliver grew up in Germantown & vividly recalls hitting home runs in Vernon Park. He insisted that Philadelphia’s top budget priority is schools but stated that PPR’s physical training was an essential complement to the School District’s academics.
Tony Williams grew up across from Cobbs Creek Park & still lives in that house. His mother, a science teacher, founded an environmental center in that park. He would increase the PPR budget by $1 million. Like Kenney he advocated private-sector funding opportunities such as branding, & tapping famous Philadelphians to give back to their city.