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Philadelphia Park and Recreation Agencies Merging

Philadelphia voters overwhelming approved an amendment to the city’s charter to create a unified Department of Parks and Recreation, with 73% of voters backing the measure. Readers may not know that Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system is divided into the Fairmount Park Commission, mainly responsible for more natural lands, and the Department of Recreation, in charge of more recreational parks and facilities. The Fairmount Park Commission has a long history and is one of the oldest park agencies in the country – it essentially began in 1855 when the Lemon Hill estate was dedicated as a public park and renamed Fairmount Park. (The entire system took on the name of its flagship park.) The move is seen by supporters as a move that will improve parks and recreation. According to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, it will help by:

  • “Creating a new unified Department of Parks and Recreation by combining Fairmount Park and the Department of Recreation;
  • Opening up and making more transparent park governance – with increased citizen participation; and
  • Establishing guidelines for parkland protection and direct Mayoral accountability.”

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