The public is invited to brainstorm a vision for Fairmount Park's future, starting with a forum in Strawberrry Mansion.

A partnership between PennPraxis, the University of Pennsylvania's nonprofit design company, and Philadelphia parks departments is asking for input as it plans how to get the most out of the park's 2,000 acres.  

Harris Steinberg, of PennPraxis, says the project is an opportunity to enhance existing infrastructure and make Fairmount Park more accessible.

 

"The challenge now that we're trying to address is how does Philadelphia get to the park? And once you're in the park, how do you get through the park? It's a park of many different pieces, but it's never really conceived of as part of a whole."

Reconnecting the park will include unearthing its history. Steinberg looks forward to reusing old trolley tracks, abandoned staircases and bridges, and overgrown paths that students catalogged this summer. But he says his team depends on locals to determine what is relevant today.

"Our forbearers had thought of these connective pieces that really link neighborhoods to other neighborhoods. So some of our work is really just uncovering those, dusting them off, and reconnecting them," Steinberg said. "But there could be other [pieces] that are new... and that's where we would really love to have citizen input in terms of what do they want to do in the park? What stops them from doing it now? And once they're in the park, where would they like to go? And once they are there, what do they need?"

Beyond transportation and recreation, preservation of the Schuylkill River watershed is key to the project's goals.

"[Today] nearly half of Philadelphians get some of their water from the Schuylkill. So its original purpose as a watershed park that actually protects the water is still its main purpose," says Steinberg.

The first of four public forums will take place Tuesday night, at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Strawberry Mansion and Wednesday September 25 at the John Anderson Cultural Center in Wynnefield. Both meetings will start at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting is free and open to the public, but attendees are requested to RSVP by contacting 215-898-1112 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .