Trash in Clark Park

Yesterday, I spent three hours as a volunteer bagging trash in B Park.  I did this because we are between SMA’s (Seasonal Maintenance Associates), the summer season (funded by PP&R) having ended in October (with an extension to November 12) and the winter season (funded by UCD) having not begun yet.  So for two weeks the trash cans have gone untended, and as many people have noticed, they are overflowing.   I took the bags in the shed out and moved trash to the curb, putting in new bags, for a dozen or so of the cans around the Tot Lot and the bowl, until I ran out of bags and energy.   While doing this I had some thoughts about trash in the park.

First, please remember that everything you leave in a trash can in Clark Park has to be moved to the curb by hand.  There are no machines that come in and empty the cans (though the SMA uses a wheelbarrow).  In an ideal world we would like park users to take their trash with them, though we know that is unlikely.   But there are things you can do to help the situation.  If you are throwing away a water bottle, empty it first.  The trees need the water more than the trash truck does, and liquids are heavy.

Second, household trash has no place in park trash cans.   This applies equally to automotive trash, such as old tires, and to construction debris.   The SMA has enough work to do dealing with trash generated in the park, without having to deal with stuff brought in from elsewhere.

Third, if you have a party or a picnic in the park, please bring your own trash bags.  Ideally you should take that trash out of the park when you leave, but if you fill them and leave them beside the trash cans it is easy for the SMA to deal with it.   But if you put 30 dirty plates and cups into a trash bag, it is filled up and can’t be used by others.  So please add trash bags to your shopping list for parties in the park.

Thank you for your continued support of the Friends of Clark Park!

Fight for the Sugary Drinks Tax to Rebuild Our Parks & Schools!

PhiladelphiansForAFairFutureEven West Philly Bernie Sanders fans can get behind one of Hillary Clinton’s ideas!

Hillary Clinton has announced she is “very supportive” of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed Sugary Drinks Tax as the best way to rebuild the city’s bedraggled parks & recreation centers, as well as toget pre-K services for all young children.

The Democratic Presidential frontrunner told a packed forum in Philadelphia Wednesday evening: “I’m very supportive of the Mayor’s proposal to tax soda. I mean, we need universal pre-school. And if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.”

“This is major step forward for all Philadelphians who believe that we must invest in our children and in our neighborhoods, and we appreciate Secretary Clinton’s support for the plan to expand pre-K services throughout the city,” said Kevin Feeley, spokesman for Philadelphians for a Fair Future, the coalition of more than 50 citywide organizations supporting the proposed tax to fund investments in pre-K, community schools, & revitalized recreation centers, parks & libraries. “Her support helps the public understand that there is a critical need for these investments, and the proposed Sugary Drinks Tax is the fairest and most effective way to pay for them.”

The Sugary Drinks Tax is a means to pay for a bond issue that will lead to a $500 million investment to restore parks & education all across Philadelphia. It means jobs. It means families. It means growth. It means boosting real-estate values. It’s huge. We need it now.

FRIENDS OF CLARK PARK
solidly backs this creative public policy & urges all park-lovers to let City Council know they demand it. It’s time we ended a lifetime of neglect for Philadelphia’s precious green spaces! We’ve been cheated before; enough is enough.

Philadelphians for a Fair Future represents a growing coalition of organizations from all walks of life in Philadelphia, including: Public Citizens for Children and Youth; the Philadelphia Parks Alliance; the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Education Voters of Pennsylvania; the Service Employees International Union; Center for Popular Democracy; the Alliance of Community Service Providers; the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Men United for a Better Philadelphia; Ceiba; Action United; Aspira; the Center for Science in the Public Interest; FOP Lodge 5; Firefighters Local 22; District Councils 33 and 47, AFSCME; Youth United for Change; and multiple community-development corporations and small-business owners from throughout the city.

The coalition’s activities are focused on raising public awareness about the importance of the Mayor’s budget investments and the need to enact the Sugary Drinks Tax as the only fair way to pay for them.

TRASH CRISIS IN CLARK PARK: What We’ve Learned and What’s Being Done About It

The ever-increasing explosion of trash in Clark Park has gripped the attention of park-lovers during the 2015 peak season. FRIENDS OF CLARK PARK has explored numerous ways of tackling the problem. Some showed limited success but the underlying issue – inadequate resources for park maintenance – has left trash at unacceptable levels.

At FoCP’s annual public election meeting in Griffith Hall on Oct. 19, officers and directors, members and other neighbors talked trash in great detail and outlined four different avenues to explore for serious relief in 2016.

It’s important to begin by understanding that park trash is complicated.

Trash in “C” Park, below Kingsessing Avenue, is collected by University of the Sciences, which leases that section of the park. Trash in “B” and “A” Parks, from Kingsessing to Chester and from Chester to Baltimore respectively, is primarily the responsibility of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department (PP&R), but we all need to work together to deal with it.

PP&R hires one Seasonal Maintenance Assistant to maintain Clark Park and neighboring Malcolm X Park from May to October, and a different SMA for October to May. The winter SMA works fewer hours than the summer SMA. FoCP voluntarily supplements our SMAs’ pay to the tune of about $1,500 per year, but they report primarily to PP&R and are not subject to FoCP’s orders, although we do communicate with them.

SMAs chiefly work by themselves, under light, remote supervision. They don’t get paid much and have no benefits or civil-service protections.

The SMA picks up loose trash, adds it to the bags in trash cans, and removes all bags to the curb. From there they are picked up by a PP&R trash truck

In addition, some loose trash is picked up when the landscaping crews on contract with PP&R mow the park, but mowing schedules are flexible and some crews are better than others at collecting trash.

Neither PP&R’s nor Streets’ plans for trash collection at a particular site are tied to current data on the amount of trash that they are collecting. So if trash doubles in Park X over a few years, no City management system notices this and says, “We need to double our man-hours, double our pickups here.” Inertia reigns instead.

Everyday usage of Clark Park did almost double just between 2006 and 2012. From 2000 to 2015, it has likely at least quadrupled. Hard-won improvements in the park, coupled with an increasing number of attractive programs, a declining crime rate, and demographic and cultural changes, have turned it into a vital community center where thousands flock to or pass through, even at times in winter.

The number of organized large events with more than 50 participants has surged from 5 in 2000 to 29 in 2015. Some are quiet, low-impact events; others draw upwards of 500 people at a time, often eating and drinking. PP&R’s legendary Stewardship Coordinator Barb McCabe (who has just been honored and promoted) said it clearly this year: “Clark Park is at capacity now.” It has no room for new events and even old events may need to be reined in a bit.

Increased crowds, both organized and random, draw vendors – food vendors especially. They are providing a service park users want. But they are not paying their full share of costs toward maintenance of the park that is lining their wallets; and they are producing more than their share of trash.

Unless they are associated with a PP&R-permitted event, like the Farmers’ Market or an approved festival, or directly licensed as a PP&R concession (which none are), no food vendors may legally operate inside the park, on the street sidewalk in the park, or even alongside the sidewalk in the street.

Philadelphia is notoriously cheap when it comes to parks. For the last 40 years it has systematically starved its park budget, allocating one-third the public resources to their maintenance that other big cities do. This is not a universal problem but a local problem! The bottom line: more of Philadelphia’s current tax dollars should go to parks than now do; PP&R’s budget should increase both in absolute numbers and in relation to other City departments. PP&R gets no respect when the City Council and Administration allocate operational funds … and that must change.

But only citizens and voters can make it change. Park-lovers must demand more from our City. We must quit taking trash for granted.

But changing City government will take time. There are other avenues for park reform that we must pursue to clean up Clark Park – other paths that may deliver quicker, if limited, gains.

1) Better coordination of existing PP&R/Streets man-hours. PP&R’s Stewardship Coordinator shifted the SMA’s hours to include some weekend work, when usage and trash generation is heaviest. Now is there a way to get its trucks to come pick it up ASAP?

2) Volunteer extra work by large-event crews. They have always collected the trash in their area and left the bags by trashcans. But these trash cans are now often overflowing by Saturday, even before festival-goers arrive. They are turning into dumps. So we’re asking all festival organizers to haul all trash off site to a City facility as part of Saturday breakdown. They were willing, but this turns out to be illegal because all Streets trash facilities are closed to the public on weekends.

3) Volunteer work by FRIENDS OF CLARK PARK Members. We’ve organized large volunteer projects for many years. But good trash collection requires constant, careful, well-timed scheduling – and continuous recruitment of Members. So we’ll be asking for a show of hands on this project!

4) Hired work by FRIENDS OF CLARK PARK. There is a model for this: Friends of Rittenhouse Square. But our economics are not theirs. FoCP must first study its books and determine how much it can spend on cleaning services, after we determine its annual budget for necessary maintenance and promised projects. Then it should ask its members how much they want to spend.

5) Seeking help from Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s office. This is the normal place to go for a neighborhood problem involving city planning and resources spread over different departments.

6) Seeking help from University City District. UCD plays an auxiliary role in cleaning the park, including helping to fund the winter SMA. UCD contributes to mowing contracts (others are performed by PP&R) and can send backup trucks sometimes on an as-needed basis. A high-level talk between FoCP and UCD could kick-start a new pushbroom for the park.

7) Supporting park activists who lobby for the right green-space budget for Philadelphia. FoCP itself can neither spend its Members’ money on political campaigns nor endorse political candidates. But FoCP can help all friends of parkland, all who know parks are to the fabric of a good city life, help all to learn how better to fight for vital community resources like Clark Park. Everybody in the neighborhood should pull together as one on this cause!

8) Last but not least … if you see trash, pick it up!
If every time you walked into the park, you picked up one item of litter — and every other user did too — it would become a pleasanter place for you as well as others.

But please understand that this is a citywide struggle. West Philadelphia neighbors must work politically with other neighborhoods to hit all City Council Members with the message that all Philadelphians derive great value from their great parks.

FoCP is putting together an ad hoc committee to study and recommend the community’s best response to the trash crisis of 2015. We urge all concerned park-lovers to join this committee and make your voice heard! We’ll announce the time and date at least one month in advance.

If you follow our website (http://www.friendsofclarkpark.org) or our Facebook group page “Friends of Clark Park”, you’ll find out how you can help clean up Clark Park.

Trash Solutions for Clark Park – We Can Do It!

by Ann Dixon
There are so many of us enjoying the park in these glorious summer months that it gets filled with trash very quickly. It takes effort to keep it looking clean. Thomas is a seasonal employee working for the Parks and Recreation Dept. You’ll see him hard at work on weekday mornings, bagging trash and doing other tasks. Both the University City District and the City pick up those trash bags once a week. The UCD also picks up recycling once a week. Despite all this, on busy weekends trash bins are often overflowing.

Jessica Plummer is ready to clean up the park tomorrow morning, Saturday, Oct. 4. Can you pitch in for an hour & help her?

Jessica Plummer is ready to clean up the park tomorrow morning, Saturday, Oct. 4. Can you pitch in for an hour & help her?

Jessica Plummer moved to West Philly at the beginning of August. One morning she was running by the park and noticed broken bottles in the play ground. She didn’t have time to pick them up, but didn’t forget them.

A friend told her about the Friends of Clark Park. A few days after bringing up the issue at an FOCP meeting, Jessica volunteered in the park with Doug Naphas (President of FOCP) and two of her friends. They removed full trashbags from cans and put in clean liners. A couple of weeks later, she was back at it again, working with her friend Ben Crescenzo.

Jessica graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in public health in May and now works for the Food Trust as an executive assistant, helping with event planning and many other tasks. She says, “I love how communal the park is. There are so many babies and families, open space for everyone to enjoy…. Volunteers really connect people to their community.” Her parents instilled the values of volunteering, asking questions and finding solutions to problems.

She is available many weekends to deal with trash and would love some company! The next organized cleanup will be Saturday, October 4th, from 11 am – noon. Meet at 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue.

If you want to help on other dates, e-mail Jessica: jplummer@thefoodtrust.org

Help us tackle the mulch pile Saturday (12/29) 10:00am

Please come out to lend a hand for a few minutes on Saturday (12/29) at 10:00am. We will make quick work of spreading a mulch pile on our garden bed and trees. Stop by, grab a pitchfork, and burn off some of those holiday treats. Bundle up, it might be snowy!

If interested, please drop me at note at erinengelstad@gmail.com so we can be sure to have enough tools. Many hands make light work!

Holiday Gift Gear Helps Clark Park

You can all help your community, as well as your family members & friends, by giving them Clark Park gear.

If they live in this neighborhood, or ever did, you know how much they care about this magical public space. They’ll appreciate receiving a gift that gives to the community as well as to them. And there’s no way better to do this than to give to Clark Park, where the whole community comes together!

All the money raised by sales of Friends of Clark Park gear goes to improve the park at the heart of our neighborhood. What better way to send holiday wishes to your loved ones & neighbors than this!

The Friends of Clark Park Membership Table will be at the Farmers’ Market tomorrow and next Saturday, Dec. 15 and Dec. 22, 10am-2-pm.

Leading off this winter is new cool-weather apparel. Our new zippered hoodie comes in black or forest green and sports a bold new back design.  It leads the Friends of Clark Park line @ $42.

We have a full rack of knit caps in vibrant colors @ $15. Warm, adjustable, you can’t go wrong with them.

Let’s talk babies. If you have a baby, or have a friend who has a baby, in this neighborhood … then of course you want the onesies, which come in 3 different sizes. Trust me: this is a gift they will use!

Traditional Clark Park t-shirts are a natural bond for all University City neighbors. Hey, we all love this park like we love our neighborhood!

Never to be repeated is our 200th birthday Charles Dickens t-shirts, with their brave “BAH HUM BUG” fronts & their historic, stylish 19th-c backs. A must for your literature-loving friends. But ONLY AVAILABLE in the small size.

 

OMG Where did the Chairs and Tables Go?

No, this isn’t a pernicious plot to prevent the populace from partaking of the pleasures of the park!

The folding tables and chairs from the north plaza of the park have been temporarily secured so that — should the dire predictions of the weather forecasters become reality —  they won’t become airborne. We’ll be happy to release them from captivity as soon as the danger of the storm has passed.

We hope all of our park neighbors weather the storm safely — please remember to check on elderly neighbors who may need some help!

 

The UC Green Pruning Club pays Clark Park a visit

Philadelphia – August 13, 2012 – The next UC Green Pruning Club will be meeting on Monday, August 13th from 6:00 to 8:00pm (or darkness).

Meet on the corner of Chester Ave. and 45th Street

In the event of high temperature above 95 degrees or heavy rain, Pruning Club will be postponed.

Please bring eye protection, hard hat, sharp saw, pruners, and/or a lopper if you have them. (UC Green will also have any of the above items available for loan.)

 

About UC Green, Inc.

The mission of UC Green: through partnerships and education we empower volunteer environmental stewardship in University City and its surrounding communities.

 

UC Green, Inc.

Winnie Harris
Program and Volunteer Coordinator
UC Green, Inc.

Sue MacQueen
Executive Director

Tools and Volunteers Needed for Bike Rack Installation

We are going to install 12 bike racks in the sidewalks around the park. Volunteers from the Friends of Clark Park will do the work tentatively on Saturday, August 18th, and Sunday, August 19th.

We need the following tools to complete the installation. We have secured some of them already, but if we have extras we may be able to have more people working at the same time. Please let us know if you can lend us any of the following tools for a weekend:

  • A hammer drill,
  • A portable generator,
  • An impact driver,
  • A Shop-Vac,
  • Extension cords,
  • A caulk gun.

If you can lend any of the above tools to us for this project, or if you are interested in helping with the installation, please contact Doug Naphas at douglasnaphas@gmail.com. We will post another notice about this project when the installation dates are finalized.