Wednesday night, in a continuing effort to bring its show on the road to different city neighborhoods, the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commission arrived at the Simons Recreation Center in West Oak Lane, where it played to a crowd of about 60 residents as well as representatives from City Council persons Darrell Clarke, Marian Tasco and David Oh and a staffer from state senator Dwight Evans' office.
It was the commission's 11th meeting and the first in 2012. Chair Nancy Goldenberg began the session by announcing that the group would be focusing on safety and security for the public portion of the meeting.
Goldenberg spoke fondly of the quality of the massive Simons Center. “It is quite impressive and a model to be emulated throughout city.”
Goldenberg announced that City Council liaisons to Parks and Rec include new council member Cindy Bass, who will head up Council’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee. Blondell Reynolds Brown, who had held that post, will take over as council's Environmental Committee chair.
First Deputy Parks and Rec Commissioner Susan Slawson talked about upcoming events, including background info about Simons, which opened in 1955 and is one of the city’s busiest rec facilities with 91 after-school programs.
First Deputy Commissioner Mark Focht discussed recent operations handled by Parks and Rec staff, including the Christmas Village in Love Park, the tree lighting and the recently opened Manayunk Towpath Improvement project.
Focht mentioned the updated special events permitting policy (use of fields), which received quite a bit of attention during the public session.
Leo Dignam, deputy commissioner for programs, explained the required contribution policy, which is a $300 contribution for a 12-week, 12-session season. Exemptions would be evaluated on a case by case basis. Youth groups would not be charged. Dignam made it clear the department would work with groups that face financial hardships.
Commissioner Carol Rice said the commission is trying to communicate better with the community by creating a user friendly Facebook website. She said the launch will take place in the near future.
Rice also presented the PaRC Stars award to Clarence Savage, for his leadership at Simons since 1969.