Source: Logan News Group
Date: July 23, 2003
Byline: D. Michael Blackie/Jason Alvarez
Another Voice Is Heard In Support of LOVE Park: Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown Breaks RankThe ice is beginning to break. And, Mayor John Street can feel the cold deep waters he has to tread as the election draws near. Today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown joined her colleague Rick Mariano in calling for "Policy wonks" to at least look at a proposal by "Skateboard Advocacy Network" that would reach a compromise on reopening LOVE Park to skaters.
Both Mariano and Reynolds-Brown are usually staunch Street allies-but on this occasion both have broken ranks-jumped ship and united with the thousands of voices calling on City Hall to "Free LOVE Park". Smart politicians they are! The young population of Philadelphia has been bolstered of late as the LOVE Park debacle has become a campaign issue. Street remaining solidly against skate boarding and Katz saying he would reopen the park to skaters if elected in the Fall.
No small group, the skaters have built a coalition of "Skate Board Activists" and with the help of youngster and past political candidate Andrew Hohns and Greg Heller-they have kept their issue before the public and now are seeing results of their labors. The group has come up with a compromise plan that would allow skate boarding at controlled hours, make some modifications to the already modified park and offer an alternative to the current 'skate and run' to avoid police that currently goes on.
Blondell Reynolds Brown has said "This is truly 'out of the box' thinking, and it's great that it comes from the young people." She went on to say that it would be worth it for the "policy wonks" to sit down and take a look at the proposal. The Councilwoman has pledged her support and is in communication with City Planners to see if the proposal for LOVE Park is "doable".
Meanwhile the Street administration has only agreed that the mayor would "certainly take a look at the proposal". There are also proposed solutions to the vacant former Tourist Information Center called the roundhouse or the "Spaceship" at the site. They range from a skate board "Hall of Fame" to a Cafe serving skaters and the rest of the folks that frequent LOVE Park on a regular basis.
Developer Dan Keating has some plans for the park that include removing the round building in favor of passive open space and green area for the "lunchers" as the ledged part of the park remained used by more active skateboarders and BMX Bike enthusiasts. At a forum on LOVE Park held in July by Young Involved Philadelphia, original planner Edmund Bacon warned skaters "Don't compromise too soon". This plan would be a compromise, but no one's saying if it's too much or too soon. It looks at first glance like a win-win situation. Only time will tell as the debate and the controversy continues.