Friends of Schuylkill River Park (FSRP) is a non-profit advocacy organization whose mission is to foster the preservation, beautification, improvement and maintenance of Schuylkill River Park. The Park is a thriving and active public place that is one of the best loved public features in Southwest Center City. The Park offers multiple active recreation activities with a baseball diamond/soccer field and tennis/basketball courts. Open paved areas have served novice bike learners, kickball/volleyball leagues, and bike polo enthusiasts. Children are served by the Markward Playground and O’Connor Pool. Dog owners have access to the largest dog runs in Center City. Neighborhood Gardeners have a large community garden of individual plots. The entire Park serves as a passive natural park area with distinct small and large scale green areas. And Markward Public Recreation Center is the heart of the Park from which summer camps, after school programs, and other community classes and programs are offered to city and neighborhood residents alike.
FSRP recognizes the value of public space. As our most recent Master Plan outlines, Schuylkill River Park plays a significant role in the daily lives of thousands of Philadelphia residents. Because of its central location within the city, its connectivity to the community and other parks, and its unique amenities, this Park draws a diverse set individuals and groups that visit for a multitude of reasons. The paths, benches, grounds and places within our Park have been the backdrop for many personal memories and collective experiences. Residents both close and far have profound relationships to our Park that go back several generations.
In dense urban neighborhoods like Southwest Center City, public space is rare and yet when it occurs it is important that it offers residents an outlet and resource to build relationships with their neighbors. FSRP believes in the importance of the public realm as a catalyst to nurture social capital. It is the value of the public realm that it is freely accessible to serve everyone, regardless of race, class or culture. And social infrastructure within this realm, like our Schuylkill River Park, is an amenity that people who have it near where they live and/or use it often, turn out to be less stressed, healthier, smarter, and safer. Social infrastructure builds social capital within the community that nurtures creativity, and encourages connectivity through both social and civic engagement. It creates mindsets of inclusivity and civility by creating a shared sense of purpose and values, this allows for both an open-ended, collective identity, and a toleration and celebration of a full spectrum of diversity.
FSRP works in close collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to maintain and improve the Park. We raise funds, apply for grants, and assume multiple initiatives to support these efforts. We hold multiple annual cleanups to the Park in the spring and fall to insure that the Park gets a little more attention before and after its busy summer season. We spend thousands of dollars annually, pruning, planting and landscaping throughout the Park. This maintains open sightlines for safety and security as well keeps the trees, shrubs and plants healthy and hardy. We have worked with our neighbors and the community gardeners on maintaining and improving the planting beds around the Park. We work in concert with the Markward Advisory Committee to offer programming in the Recreation Center and the Park in general that serves the entire family. We use our Master Plan to guide us in larger long term initiatives that align Park improvements with what the community envisions. And finally we work closely with our city and state representative to actively represent the communities’ interest with any PP&R projects that impact the Park.
All of these efforts, both the small-scale incremental and large-scale transformative, have been made possible with the hard work and attention of the Board of FSRP and with community generosity and support.
If you are not already a member, please consider joining the FSRP. If you can contribute further, consider making an individual tax-deductible contribution to FSRP. Your monetary support will allow us to continue funding our efforts to sustain and improve your backyard