HomeNewsBeautification underway in Wissinoming

Beautification underway in Wissinoming

The Wissinoming Civic Association announced on May 30 the imminent creation of a community garden in partnership with St. Bartholomew Church.

Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell (second from right) and City Councilman Bobby Henon (third from right) helped break ground on renovations at Wissinoming Park. PHOTO: PHILADELPHIA PARKS AND RECREATION

Community beautification has become a recurring theme in Wissinoming.

Days after city officials broke ground on a $1.5 million renovation of a local park, the Wissinoming Civic Association announced on May 30 the imminent creation of a community garden in partnership with St. Bartholomew Church.

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WCA member Sean Null is spearheading the effort and has been brushing up on his gardening and instruction skills, so he can teach his neighbors how to produce produce. He hopes to break ground on June 17.

“We’re thinking about selling four-by-eight plots for like $10 a year,” Null said during the WCA’s monthly meeting. “It’s a little community project to bring people together. And it’s also for food because, technically, Wissinoming is considered a food desert because we don’t have a supermarket.”

Null noted that plans are afoot to remedy the absence of a supermarket; a new ShopRite will anchor the $29 million Shoppes at Wissinoming, a shopping center scheduled to open early next year at Harbison Avenue and Tulip Street.

The civic association has been working on plans for a community garden for months, but Null wasn’t expecting to start the project until next spring at the earliest. Until recently, the WCA didn’t even have a site picked. Null was trying to figure out how they could commandeer an abandoned lot. But St. Bart’s parish offered to host the garden at no cost to the organizers.

Now, Null is looking for gardeners.

“Since we’re going to start right away, we’re just going to put up signs and hope people sign up,” he said.

Folks will be able to plant vegetables or perennials. Volunteer opportunities are also available for those who might not be comfortable managing their own gardens at the start. Contact Null at 267–650–4728 or snull37@gmail.com for information.

As for the $1.5 million park project, City Councilman Bobby Henon reported to WCA members that the Wissinoming Park renovations are a partnership of several agencies. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Water Department, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society are involved. Separately, Mural Arts is creating a new public art installation at the park’s recreation center.

Henon, Mayor Jim Kenney and Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell took part in a May 19 ceremony to launch the project, which will include a new play area, water spray area, walking path, furnishings, landscaping, picnic grove, security cameras and rain gardens to improve stormwater management.

Henon’s office has already directed funding toward renovations at the nearby American Legion Playground. Additional improvements are planned for Moss Playground.

“Wissinoming is coming back,” Henon said. “A lot more people are using the park for recreation. People are feeling more safe to use the park.”

“Our three parks are really, really getting a facelift — or a full makeover,” WCA president John Barnes said.

On another topic, Henon touted a bill he recently introduced in Council that would ban businesses from installing “wavy man” advertising devices and other types of outdoor temporary signs. It’s all part of an effort to cut back on gaudy, flashing, bright and unappealing storefronts along Torresdale Avenue and other business districts.

“I don’t think they appeal to how people want the avenue to look,” Henon said.

Barnes said several of the Torresdale Avenue businesses have discussed reviving the Wissinoming Business Association. The WCA president owns McCafferty-Sweeney Funeral Home. WCA Vice President John Nolen owns Aztec Signs. Both men also live in the neighborhood.

With the pending arrival of perhaps a dozen new businesses at the Shoppes at Wissinoming, the timing is good to revive the merchants’ association, Barnes said.

“It was a great organization for a long time and we lost it,” he said. “We’re going to try to get it back.” ••

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.

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