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A Green and Healthy Germantown

Vision Statement from Friends of Vernon Park, July 2013
Prepared for Philadelphia University Germantown Design Studio Project

Vernon Park is the largest green space in Germantown. Its revival, beginning in the summer of 2011, is a small object lesson in what a community can accomplish with hard work, cooperation, partnership with the City, and hope.

We hope for a Germantown with well-designed and -maintained green spaces where neighbors can relax, plant community gardens or build pocket parks, and get to know each other. Adding green space will improve everyone’s health, build a stronger community, and improve storm water management. Improving the green space that we already have can move us toward those goals at once, not in a distant future.

That is our vision for Germantown. Our work in Vernon Park gives us confidence that that vision is achievable.

Beginning in July, 2011, under the sponsorship of the Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) the Philadelphia Water Department, Friends of Vernon Park (FOVP) partnered with more than 20 neighborhood groups to plan and build a rain garden in front of the Center in the Park. The rain garden project made the park more beautiful, improved storm water management for the entire area surrounding the park, and helped attract supporters, not only to FOVP, but also to the park itself. Those who helped were a cross-section of the community—from schools, from churches, even from participants in the informal daily Vernon Park card game. In November, 2011, Vernon Park was one of the featured parks on Love Your Park Day.

As a result of the rain garden project, and with the cooperation of many neighborhood groups, FOVP itself has become more active. Our Activities Committee has sponsored events like Countdown to Germantown Day, which drew about 900 people and involved more than 20 community groups to begin marking Germantown’s 330th anniversary; a Family Fun Day; a smaller but very successful Garden Festival; and the first Vernon Park flea market. Our partnership with the City Parks and Recreation Department and the Fairmount Park Conservancy has led to better maintenance and a more beautiful space. In the spring, Soccer Sisters United held practice sessions in the park. Vernon Park is once again a valuable neighborhood asset for all Germantown residents and groups.

This is a small but important step forward for Germantown. Better parks help to create a better community. Cooperation, hard work, and hope made Vernon Park a better park. They can also make Germantown a better neighborhood.

Germantown garden watercolor © 2011 by Ruth A Seeley

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