Walking by a new playground somewhere else in the city always makes Erme Maula, a 45-year-old Filipino American living in South Philadelphia, a little jealous.
“Especially if it’s really cool and has that squishy bottom,” she said.
Maula mostly uses the playground near her house, the one at Mifflin Square Park that has remained unchanged since the 1990s. The city park, one of the few open green spaces in South Philadelphia, is located between Fifth and Sixth streets from Wolf to Ritner, at the heart of a neighborhood that hosts many ethnicities.
Mifflin Square Park has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the National Parks Service’s Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program to begin work on the first phase of park reconstruction! This is the first ORLP grant ever received in Pennsylvania. This grant will be matched with another $750,000 from local sources, bringing a total of $1.5 million to Mifflin Square to begin implementing the community’s vision for the park as laid out in the Making Room For Everyone concept plan. The grant will specifically allow the new playgrounds and splash pad, along with accompanying site furniture, to be built. This grant was received thanks to partnership between SEAMAAC, the Trust for Public Land, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
On January 23rd, members of the Friends of Mifflin Square Park and former Community Design Leaders joined with other neighbors for a Schematic Design Focus Group led by SEAMAAC and Hector at SEAMAAC’s 8th Street Outreach Office. Neighbors discussed how to prioritize designs in the concept plan focusing mainly on play equipment, seating, and sports fields. A robust discussion helped to identify which pieces of playground equipment were most popular, where seating was most needed, and how to make sure the vision of the concept plan is carried through in a maintainable and implementable manner. Schematic designs are being revised with this prioritization in mind, and more neighborhood events are to come. Stay tuned!
On December 5, members of the Mifflin Coalition gathered for a meeting on several important Mifflin Square Park activities. First, members heard from the Philadelphia Water Department about the exciting green infrastructure project that will renovate each corner entrance to the park in 2020 as part of Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters project. Next, the Friends of Mifflin Square Park provided a recap on the many 2019 activities that took place in the park. Finally, Jae Shin from HECTOR, the firm leading the schematic design process, gave an overview of the progress of the schematic designs. Coalition members discussed maintenance commitments for park improvements and upcoming public engagement opportunities.
SEAMAAC is looking for neighbors interested in being Community Design Leaders (CDLs) in 2020. CDLs will be financially compensated for their time and be able to help guide the engagement process for schematic designs. If you are interested, please contact Joel Arnold at 215-467-0690 x. 124 or email email@example.com. Keep an eye out for upcoming January and February engagement sessions. Dates will be posted here!
As we continue to work to bring the concept plan announced last year to life, we’ve got some exciting updates to share about Mifflin Square Park and some important opportunities coming up soon for engagement!
Summer Announcement of Funding Support
This July we were excited to welcome State Senator Farnese and State Representative Fiedler to Mifflin Square to announce $70,000 in funding to support to continued operation of the SoPhiE Food Truck, closing our fundraising gap on the installation of decorative pavers in the new plaza being created at 6th and Ritner, and to better fund park programming and events. You can see some great images from this event here and even see coverage that this announcement received in the South Philly Review here. This programming funding has allowed SEAMAAC and the Friends to purchase more games to have regularly at the park (giant jenga, giant connect four, cornhole, etc.) as an easy way to activate the space.
Events and Programming
Partly with the support of this funding and thanks to community organizations at large, the park has this summer been home to some great events. This has included World Refugee Day in June, the Mutter Museum’s Health Fair on September 7th, and International Peace Day on September 21st. To respond to one of the clear comments raised in the Concept Plan of the need for more frequent programming, every Friday through the end of October there are events at the park as a part of Fall Fridays at Mifflin Square. Check out the flyer below for more information and check out the Facebook event here. From game nights to soccer clinics to Halloween events, there will be plenty going on in the park this fall. As always, the Friends of Mifflin Square also meet every first Tuesday of the month at 6pm in the park, please do join if you are interested or if you know of interested neighbors!
Schematic Design Work Underway!
Lastly, work is now underway on the Schematic Design process. This process will take the community vision of the concept plan and work to start turning that into detailed documents that can be used for construction. For this work a team has been put together that will oversee the process:
HECTOR (Damon and Jae) of Newark, New Jersey who led the concept planning process will be the overall project managers for this phase, working to ensure that the intent and vision of the Concept Design are well-interpreted and sensitively developed into schematic designs.
Ground Reconsidered of Philadelphia will work as collaborating landscape architect, working closely with HECTOR to develop the design. GR has extensive experience working on Philadelphia parks projects.
KS Engineers, PC of Philadelphia will work as consulting civil engineer, working to provide topographic surveying and needed civil engineering.
The surveying team was out in the park just this last week!
The plan now is to have a final schematic design set complete in early March of 2020 that could then be carried through to final construction documents and actual park reconstruction through the Rebuild program. There will be several engagement meetings and input sessions later this year and early in 2020, so stay tuned for those events and meetings!
Some early construction phases will be taking place before any overall park rebuild thanks to the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City Clean Watersprogram, including the new 6th and Ritner plaza, the new rain garden at 5th and Wolf, and rebuilt entrances at all 4 corners of the park.
SEAMAAC hosts an Elders Gathering every Tuesday morning at the BOK building in South Philadelphia from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM. During this past week, the elders participated in a paver design charrette and gave their feedback on what they would like to see incorporated. SEAMAAC outreach workers helped Vietnamese, Bhutanese, and Chinese elders bring their ideas to life and create 3-D models. Check out all of their fantastic ideas below!
The Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia participated in a paver design charrette with the children in their after school program. The afternoon was filled with creative ideas for how to design the future pavers on the corner of South 6th Street and Ritner Street at Mifflin Square Park. Check out the pictures below to see their 3-D model!
The fundraising campaign for decorative pavers at the entrance of Mifflin Square Park is now Live! This fundraiser arose following several neighborhood park advisory meetings where this was highlighted as a real priority improvement focus for neighborhood residents and stakeholders. In line with this shared community vision, this fundraiser presents the opportunity to mark a distinctive entrance to Mifflin Square Park and to preserve the names of the dedicated neighborhood residents and organizations who have done so much in the park planning process and in the many years before.
This campaign will be active until Monday, April 22, 2019 and the goal is to raise $10,000. Individuals who donate $200 or above will be able to have their name engraved at the park entrance as part of these pavers. Organizations are also welcome to contribute and have their name engraved as we know countless organization been a part of improving Mifflin Square Park. If an organization wants to make a collective donation from several individuals on behalf of the organization, we certainly encourage that.