The Friends of Pennypack Park group works to beautify the park to preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.
Though the group has an eye on the future, there is a particular area of the park that carries great historical significance. The Pennypack Creek Bridge, also known as the Holmesburg Bridge, was named a historical landmark by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in October.
The newly named historical site faces a number of issues that go beyond the occasional can or plastic bag that The FOPP typically deals with. Volunteers, along with neighborhood civic organizations and the police are making an effort to address the prostitution, homelessness and drug use problems in this area of the park.
As the area continues to deal with crime and other issues, FOPP, led by President Linde Lauff, remains committed to the well-being of the bridge and the surrounding park.
Keep it clean
The hardest areas of Pennypack Park to keep clean:
- Holme Avenue ball fields
- Rhawn and Lexington
- Sandy Run
Lauff said she understands that her group can collect immense amounts of trash from the area surrounding the bridge, but that there are other issues in that community that the FOPP cannot combat alone.
“The problem with homelessness is not with the individuals, but more with the debris left behind when they encamp there and the obvious lack of bathrooms,” Lauff said. “We often see drug paraphernalia, which means that families often don’t want to bring their children there. The clean-ups are a way to try to reclaim the area for the community again.”
A clean-up and picnic are scheduled for April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Lauff is expecting a good turnout.; volunteers expected from the Holmesburg Civic Association and local schools have already committed their time.
FOPP volunteers alone can’t combat the larger issues that contribute to park’s trash.
Holmesburg Civic Association President Rich Frizell echoed many of Lauff’s sentiments. “The park has sort of been lost for the community. We have requested the 8th Police District to really keep on top of it, which is difficult because their resources are very stretched.”
Although Frizell admits the challenge is hard, he commended the District for its hard work and diligence in trying to curb the problems of drugs and vacancy.
Frizell does not have the same feelings toward the city’s Parks and Recreation department. “We are not happy with Parks and Recreation at all,” Frizell said. “That portion of Pennypack Park is really neglected by Parks and Recreation.” The Department of Parks & Recreation did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Frizell said he hopes the historical significance will encourage the city to help the area more. “If I have to use the bridge to get recognition for our park, I will certainly do that.”
Raymond Boyd and Steven Mitchell are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.