Friends of Schuylkill River Park (FSRP) is a non-profit volunteer organization founded in 1988, whose mission is to preserve, beautify, improve and maintain Schuylkill River Park. We do this by dedicating our time to advocating for what the community wants to see in our public space. The Park is thriving, active, and one of the best loved public features in Southwest Center City!
You might not realize just how many active recreation areas are part of Schuylkill River Park: the baseball and soccer fields, the tennis and basketball courts, the multipurpose courts, O'Connor Pool on 26th and South St., Markward Plaza, Monster Capitol Fountain, Markward Recreation Center and Playground, the dog run, the community garden, and the grassy area called the Bowl.
FSRP volunteers work closely with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and the Markward Recreation Advisory Council (MRAC) to maintain and improve the Park. We raise funds, apply for grants, and help support these efforts through volunteerism. We hold annual cleanups in the Park in spring and fall to ensure the Park gets a little more attention before and after its busy summer season, as well as plan and host festivals, special events, and other programming.
We raise and spend thousands of dollars annually to prune, plant, and landscape throughout the Park. This helps keep the Park safe and secure, as well keeps the trees, shrubs, and plants healthy and hardy. We have worked with our neighbors and the community gardeners to maintain and improve the planting beds around the Park. And don't forget the fun stuff, like hosting neighborhood parties!
FSRP recognizes the value of public space. Schuylkill River Park plays a significant role in the daily lives of thousands of Philadelphia residents because of its central location. The Park draws a diverse crowd that's representative of the city itself, and we want to keep it that way! Every space in the Park, from the paths and benches to the fields and playgrounds, have been backdrops for many personal memories and collective experiences that go back several generations. Our goal has been to preserve that history, while thinking of how we can make it even better for the future. Part of these efforts can be seen by reviewing our Master Plan, which shows all the exciting things that can happen in the Park over the next 10 years.
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.
All of these efforts, both small and large, have been made possible with the hard work and attention of the Board of FSRP and with community generosity and support. Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to FSRP or volunteering your time. Your support lets us continue funding our efforts to sustain and improve your backyard. And follow us on social to make sure you stay up to date:
Master Plan - What the Next 10 Years Could Bring!
Parks need to grow and change with the community they serve. FSRP worked with Hinge Design to engage the community to draft a 10-year Master Plan for the future of Schuylkill River Park. Accomplishing any elements of this plan will only happen with community engagement, involvement, and fundraising--in other words, a lot of hard work!
To give feedback on the plan, email the Friends of Schuylkill River Park at firstname.lastname@example.org. These ideas in the plan are things we hope to work toward together, with continued input and commitment from the community. Check back often for updates!