Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sneak attack on the park commission?

A little something for City Hall electees to think about over their summer vacation?
Two City Council members want to dissolve the venerable Fairmount Park Commission and reconstitute it as a less powerful agency within the Recreation Department.

Darrell Clarke and Blondell Reynolds Brown were to introduce legislation today - Council's final session of the summer - to make the change possible.

The bill arrived like a Stealth bomber, catching by surprise most of the 17-member Council, as well as the Street administration. It seeks a change to the city charter that could go before voters in November.
Apparently the suggestion has been made before, but it still seems out of the blue to me. On the other hand, most of the world subsumes parks under general Recreation oversight, so there's no reason Philly couldn't handle this as well as NYC. Just not sure what's bringing it up now...


Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

My sense is that abolishing the Park Commission would be a mistake. The Park Commission exists to preserve Fairmount Park--not just to maximize its potential for recreation. The funding decline of the Park Commission started during the ten year period in which Recreation Commissioner Robert Crawford headed it--from about 1970 to about 1980.

Further, the Fairmount Park Commission is able to access large amount of foundation and other private funding, and involve large numbers of citizens who have no vested interest in the parks, only a civic interest in them. This capacity to attract outside funds and volunteers will likely wane if it ceases to be an independent entity.

The fact that individuals on the Commission have responsibity helps justify media coverage. It is a pretty rare editorial that holds the Recreation Commissioner--any Recreation Commissioner--responsible for anything that goes either well or poorly.

We ought to be urging City Council to go very slowly on this: qucik hearings in September and a quick vote in November is too much, too soon.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Quite an audience you have ACM. This seems so totaly weird. I just can't wrap my head around what the point of this move is. I'd love it if you could dig deeper and figure out what the real story is here. Who pissed off who?

1:05 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I should add that I'll help, should you decide to dig a little deeper. I think may know a Clarke constituent or two who would be willing to make some phone calls.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One particular thing to be concerned about with respect to this move; the current Rec. Commissioner - who could be in charge of this whole deal - probably doesn't have the skill set necessary to run the parks.

6:18 AM  
Blogger That Girl said...

All about the money as usual - Fairmont Park finally got its donors and funding straightened out and running well - they are finally bringing in good money. Maybe they think that they can keep raking in the money donated to Fairmount but use it for the other parks.

7:56 AM  
Blogger ACM said...

The best I can manage is that the combination of full funding + no permanent head (they've had an interim for a long while now) looks like a power vacuum, and somebody is hungry to get their hands into things. It's possible, of course, that there are invisible power plays at work too; I don't know enough about Brown and Clarke to speculate. I gather that Brown has been considered a Street pal, but she's now asking for hearings on his wireless plan, so perhaps she's chasing a new power base.

In theory I'd be happy to dig, Chris, but I'm not really in a position to get inside of this one, I don't think. If you want to snoop around, I'll happily follow the leads or post the results. Perhaps some journalist is already on it...

1:22 PM  

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