Fairmount Park named one of America's Great Public Spaces

20161003_inq_pfairmount03-b
Smith Memorial Arch, an 1898 Civil War monument, serves at the gateway to Fairmount Park.

Fairmount Park was named to a list of 15 Great Places in America on Monday by the American Planning Association, which annually honors neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces for their character, cultural identity, and use of sustainable practices.

Fairmount Park is one of five honorees in the "public spaces" category.

A committee of the APA sorted through scores of nominations from 24 states to choose this year's winners, APA president Carol Rhea said.

"Although other cities have parks, Fairmount Park is really unique" in its outsize contribution to urban life, Rhea said. "It's an overwhelmingly positive feature for the city."

Founded in 1978, APA is an association of 35,000 professional planners in more than 100 countries.

"We are so pleased to see Fairmount Park, along with APA's other 2016 honorees, held in esteem as the welcoming green space, recreational hub, and cultural asset that Philadelphians have known it to be for over a century," Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, said in a statement.

Fairmount Park was honored specifically for what Rhea said are "innovative watershed techniques" - the park is one of the first of its kind to protect its municipal watershed, the Schuylkill, from industrial pollution and degradation of water quality.

Rhea said APA also was impressed by Fairmount Park's various options for active and passive recreation - from biking and jogging to leaf peeping.

The Fairmount Park Conservancy, which works to maintain parks and recreation both in Fairmount Park and the Greater Philadelphia area, regularly is recognized for its efforts in preservation and sustainability. The conservancy has received numerous awards from the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia, as well as a History in Pennsylvania Award in 2013 from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia officials, including Lovell and Mayor Kenney, will host an event in Fairmount Park on Oct. 14 with APA officials to celebrate.

An APA representative will present a plaque to the community, signifying, "Hey, you guys have done something really wonderful," Rhea said.

In addition to Fairmount Park, the other honorees in the public spaces category this year are: Golden Heart Plaza in Fairbanks, Ala.; Central Park Plaza in Valparaiso, Ind.; Findlay Market in Cincinnati; and Guthrie Green in Tulsa, Okla.

mwinberg@philly.com

215-854-5915

@mwinberg_

Continue Reading