“Triangle Park” – or what would be Triangle Park if the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority purchases the irregularly shaped property at the intersection of E. Passyunk Avenue and Christian and S. 6th streets – may soon need more than just a little sprucing up.
According to the Friends of Triangle Park (FOTP), via their Facebook page, owner Stuart Schlaffman has hired an environmental testing firm to perform a site characterization report, evaluating the extent of subsoil pollution at the site of a former gas station. That would mean rustling up the work that the nonprofit had done over the past couple of years to beautify the space in order to sample the subsoil down to about 20 feet with piping. The process could take up to six months.
FOTP has been in negotiations with the PRA for months in an effort to have the city purchase the property so local residents could turn it into a permanent park. A spokesman with the Office of Housing and Community Development told PlanPhilly that before the city purchases the lot, it will be “remediated by the current property owner prior to acquisition, or by the city after acquisition with the final purchase price reflecting remediation costs.” So the commencement of environmental work on the property may indicate progress after all, but must be disappointing for residents who thought it would be fine to plant shallow-rooted shrubs despite any pollution. Also, if there is substantial groundwater impact, further remedial action may be required. (Note to landscapers: Don’t install any water features, for now.)
Once blooming with colorful tulips and landscaped with stone paths and benches, the park has deteriorated into a depressing mess.
“I know that the park looks pretty sad and uncared for,” said the message on the Friends of Triangle Park’s Facebook page, assumedly from Joel Palmer, who has spearheaded this effort from the beginning. “The core group of Park Rangers, that have created and maintained the park for going on four years, will not cross the ‘fence line’ to work in the park as long as the fence remains there.”
As we told you several months ago, Schlaffman installed the fence in April, and claimed he meant no offense – just that he wanted the property to look less like a park and more like a vacant lot for sale. Less than two months later, someone cut two large neat openings through the cyclone fence. Does anyone know who did it? FOTP has agreed not to enter the property despite the vandalism.
The community group obtained nonprofit status and the support of State Senator Larry Farnese and Councilman Mark Squilla to assist with bringing the park to fruition. FOTP said in another Facebook progress report that all parties are committed to cleaning up the site and conveying title to the community group “if desired by PRA.” They are looking for more volunteers with all manner of expertise to keep the momentum going.
Hopefully, the FOTP will be able to clear this latest bureaucratic hurdle, and Triangle Park will someday soon be a welcoming green space for the community once more.
— Ashanti M. Martin