|(Posted 7/4/2002) |
Spruced up, LOVE Park is reopened
Mayor Street attended the ceremony. Plans are in the works for a new skate park. A temporary site was set up.
By Linda K. Harris
Inquirer Staff Writer
As city officials and others in suits drifted toward the official platform, skateboard enthusiast Pat Gunter of Ontario, Canada, wistfully wandered about LOVE Park yesterday, snapping pictures of all the spots he remembered from magazines and Web sites.
The occasion was the official reopening by Mayor Street of the newly refurbished LOVE Park - formally known as JFK Plaza - at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard.
The mayor welcomed everyone to enjoy it - everyone but the skateboarders who made it world-famous. The city has vowed to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for skateboarding in the park, and the official sign welcoming visitors to the park declares that "skateboards, skates and bicycles are prohibited."
Gunter, 17, who is camping near Allentown with his father, John, could only imagine the erstwhile thrills of his fellow comrades who once ollied away their days here.
"I wrote the mayor," Gunter said. "I was so mad."
In his remarks, the mayor announced that the lunch crowd is now welcome to bring their brown bags to the park. Previously, lunchtime picnicking was discouraged because of rodent problems.
The city spent about $800,000 on LOVE Park's renovations, adding 35 new light fixtures, 70 wooden benches, 80 planters, and 47 new trees, said Frank Keel, spokesman for the mayor. In addition, 84,000 square feet of new sod was placed.
Keel said that as a tribute to the popularity of the park with the skateboarders, the city saved some of the granite pavers for use in a future skateboard park.
And, he said, as a sign of good faith as negotiations continue on a future permanent skateboarding park, the city yesterday opened a temporary site in a parking lot at 13th and Arch Streets. Four portable ramps, to the tune of $20,000, were purchased by the city and will be available for use, Keel said.
Street said a group called the Stakeholders was being assembled to plan activities for the park.
"We're going to bring LOVE Park to life," the mayor said.
The city has vowed it will deliver on its promise to erect a new skateboard park and to create other satellite parks in neighborhoods throughout the city. The leading location for the main arena is Schuylkill Park, near the Art Museum.
"We'll see how this unfolds. At least they're still talking," said Joshua Nims of Franklin's Paine, a skateboarding-advocacy group that is working with the city on finding a new site.
"I love that site," he said of Schuylkill Park. "It has potential for a real street-oriented park."
Nims said he thought the LOVE Park renovation was successful.
"I think the park looks good. I think it's very pretty. I want to see what happens next."
Street said that neighbors in the Schuylkill Park area had raised some objections and that the city wants to negotiate with them.
No deadline has been set for a decision.
Meanwhile, the new skating area at 13th and Arch drew a half-dozen skaters yesterday afternoon.
Jeff Oxenberg, 14, of Roxborough, braved the scorching heat to try it out.
"It's OK for now. I like skating authentic streets a lot better. I just wanted to check it out," he said.
Oxenberg said he likely wouldn't return.
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Enquirer, http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/3599710.htm, originally found at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/krphiladelphia/20020704/lo/ spruced_up_love_park_is_reopened_1.html.
Contact Linda K. Harris at 215-854-4417.
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