Revenue Enhancement Committee Chair Pete Hoskins next reported on an upcoming study that will focus on current and potential concessionaire agreements. Funded by the William Penn Foundation, the work "wants to ensure that concessions are meeting the needs of the public," he said. It will also, of course, examine ways for the system to generate more income.
Rice returned to talk a bit more about other communications efforts, including the idea of developing workshops to help parks and recreation centers realize their potentials. She also mentioned that the system is "looking to bring in" Peter Harnik, a noted author and consultant on park resurgence, and the director of the Center for City Park Excellence
at the Trust for Public Land.
Commissioner Mike DiBerardinis then presented an update on the department's merger, as well as reported on this summer's outcomes, and progress on the system's involvement with Greenworks.
The department is using the late Fall/early Winter downtime to complete the integration of all formerly separate staff, operations, and facilities, DiBerardinis said. Summer highlights included the fact that 70 of the city's 72 pools were opened (two being inoperable), and that more than 1 million users enjoyed them, up from 600,000 in 2009.
DiBerardinis restated the three Greenworks goals that the department has adapted — the planting of 300,000 new trees, the acquisition of 500 acres of new open space, and a commitment to urban agriculture. He said that almost $5 million had been obtained toward reaching the tree planting goal and that two big city employers, the University of Pennsylvania and Independence Blue Cross, are working with their employees to encourage them to plant trees on their own properties.
DiBerardinis added that the department was conducting an extensive analysis of available public and private land toward the second goal, adding that this process had potential to become a "national model."
Questions and comments during the 90-minute meeting ranged from the generally disgruntled (attendees expressed concerns about the new Barnes site, about deer culling, and about a local farm) to specifics about the proposal (whether the land acquisition studies would take into consideration past park land that had been lost, whether the no net loss policy applies to land transferred to other agencies, and whether the ordinance exclude properties within historic landmarks).
Goldenberg encouraged attendees to submit them in written form. "It's a great challenge to give you a pat answer," she said, before concluding the meeting with a roundup of recent park events, triumphs, and activities.
The list was, she said, "just the tip of the iceberg," and included the inauguration of a Philadelphia Urban Youth Baseball Academy
(only the fourth in the nation), renovations at Hunting Park, a new piece of artwork at Elmwood Park, and a new partnership with the Independence Visitors Center which will strengthen the offerings of the Fairmount Park Welcome Center at LOVE Park.
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