Students spend Saturday cleaning park
Students for Environmental Action teamed up with members of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, Philadelphia Green and Lindy Property Management Sept. 15 to help beautify the Taras Shevchenko Park. The park is located at the corner of Broad Street and Somerville Avenue, next to Einstein Hospital and in front of the York North and Yorkhouse apartments.
The volunteers spent over four hours landscaping various sections of the park with pansies, mums and assorted flower bulbs, as well as a birch tree that arrived later.
“It feels good to help out. It’s hard work, but it’s actually making a difference. We’ve been here a couple hours and we’ve already seen [the park] look way better than when we got here,” S.E.A. member Jordan Flores, a freshman criminal justice major, said.
Philadelphia Green is a division of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and was created in 1974 to help beautify and take back Philadelphia parks. According to Tammy Leigh DeMent, Shevchenko Park Coordinator and a member of the Park Revitalization branch of Philadelphia Green, the Philadelphia area holds 2,000 acres of park land that make up its 160 parks. DeMent is working with Lindy Project Management, the owners of the Yorkhouse and York North high-rises to redesign the park as one of her projects.
“The biggest problem in this particular park was that there were a lot of drug activity, and there was a lot of prostitution,” said Caroline Kennedy, Lindy Project Management’s Director of Operations. The residents of the area stopped using the park for recreation, so Lindy Property Management took charge of the upkeep a few years ago.
“The people in the neighborhood are really excited, and that’s what I’m excited about,” Kennedy said.
Shevchenko Park is the start of the annual Broad Street Run, which typically involves around 10,000 people, so the fact that this park is in the midst of a turnaround brings a lot of enthusiasm to everyone who is concerned with it.
“Not that it’s perfect,” said Alan Lindy, co-owner of L.P.M., as he nudged pieces of a broken bottle with his shoe. “You still have a lot of the glass, but there was a lot more. And there were needles…not a great environment. So when we started rehabbing the buildings, we also wanted to beautify the park. But Caroline really took the initiative.”
The Ukrainian community in the area is also happy about the park renovations. Taras Shevchenko was a renowned Ukrainian poet from the 1800s, whom Kennedy referred to as, “the Ukrainian Shakespeare.” Members of the Ukrainian American Youth Association were contacted about the day’s events and sent over volunteers to assist with the project. In the midst of the landscaping, a man from the Ukrainian community stopped by to watch the project and thanked Kennedy and the volunteers for their efforts.
Kennedy has high hopes for the park. Plans for the revitalization include the replacement of the concrete paths with a walking trail with exercise stations for public use, a children’s memorial garden, additional lighting for evening use and a stone entranceway with the name of the park and an engraving of Taras Shevchenko’s face in bronze. Another proposal involves creating a café garden complete with bistro tables to provide a leisurely conversation area.
Depending on the city’s response, the installation of recycling receptacles in addition to the trash cans may also become a reality. All of these ideas have been discussed with community input.
“I think [today] was definitely great because we had a lot of people show up that I really didn’t expect because it was the beginning of the year, and it feels good to get something done in the actual community around us…because this area really needs it,” Dominique Cataldi, senior co-coordinator of S.E.A., a philosophy major, said. “I feel like we accomplished two things by helping both the environment and helping the community.”
Shevchenko Park will be hosting a rededication ceremony Oct. 6 on its premises from noon to 4 p.m. Events for the day will include performances by local jazz musicians, as well as a festival for local artisans and vendors.
“In this particular corridor of Philadelphia there’s no town square; there’s nowhere for people to go and gather,” Kennedy said. “So the people in the neighborhood really want to make this the new Logan Town Square.”email@example.com
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