Catharine Park

Catharine Park
Donate Today!
22nd and Catharine Streets, Southwest corner
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Donate at least $150 and receive a monogrammed brick installed in Catharine Park (example at left)!  Donate $1000 and get your name, or that of your business or cause on a wall plaque.  Special thanks to CAVA Building Supply for the bricks and for coordinating the monogramming. HOW TO DONATE

 
 
History and Context:
The Catharine Park Project will open a 930 SF garden at the corner of 22nd and Catharine Streets as a public pocket park for the first time in three decades. Originally created by the Rizzo Administration in the 1970s in preparation for the Bicentennial, it unfortunately became a hotbed of criminal activity by the early 1980s as the neighborhood suffered through difficult times. Drug dealing in the garden was common, as was using it to break into the neighbor’s house at 2202 Catharine Street. In response, the City of Philadelphia closed and locked the lot with a chain-link fence preventing use by the public at large.
 
Despite being forbidden from using it, save a cadre who held keys to the lock, the nearby citizens, both old and new, greatly valued it as passive open space. In 2007 they successfully blocked the Philadelphia Department of Public Property, which owns the lot, from selling it for commercial development because they wanted it to remain for neighbors and residents for decades to come. From that effort, neighbors partnered with SOSNA to collaboratively design a concept site plan (see attached). Volunteers have tackled the low-hanging fruit of the project in 2010 while funding is sought. They also successfully negotiated an Urban Garden Agreement with Public Property (see attached) permitting access to the lot and taking over maintenance responsibilities.
 
The project will transform municipally-owned open space from a neglected garden into an innovative public pocket park. Renovating this park will make adjacent underutilized properties more attractive to investment and will catalyze economic development, a core mission of the South of South Neighborhood Association. Lastly, with hundreds of similar lots around Philadelphia, this project will provide a template for neighborhood-based non-profits to create passive open space in their own communities.  As Public Property Commissioner Joan Schlotterbeck stated in a letter of support for a recent application to a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, “In our inventory of public property, we have many lots just like 2200 Catharine Street. We believe that the successful implementation of the plan at 2200 Catharine Street will inspire similar transformations at these lots around the city.”
 
Plan Components:
The plan consists of the following nine elements:
  1. Pruning the existing trees inside the lot for the betterment of their own health, to bring in more natural light to the lot, to improve safety and visibility, and to diminish the liability to the adjacent property. COMPLETED MAY 2010.
  2. Planting a new street tree on the 22nd Street side of the property. COMPLETED MAY 2010.
  3. Demolishing the existing concrete slabs inside, the concrete sidewalk surrounding the park, and the chain-link fence and curb.
  4. Repaving 400 SF inside the park and adjacent sidewalk with reclaimed brick and permeable pavers.
  5. Replanting shrubbery and perennials in three planting areas inside the park.
  6. Installing new wood benches made from old joists from demolished row homes.
  7. Erecting a low cast-iron fence around portions of the planting area using a locally-based metalworker and artisan, maintaining wide entry/exit berths at three locations.
  8. Lighting the park with new wall-mounted lights to improve safety and security in the park.
  9. Programming the park with small children’s play sculptures on a poured rubber surface, attracting families with only the second dedicated play area in the neighborhood.
Further Background:
In 2005, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) first identified 2200 Catharine Street and other lots like it in the neighborhood as prime opportunities to create more green space. In acknowledging the dearth of such spaces in the community, PCPC’s South of South Community Plan stated:
 
“The South of South neighborhood contains several garden plots that have been maintained by residents for years. In a neighborhood without sufficient access to green space, these gardens might provide opportunities for conversion to public parks . . . some possibilities include publicly owned property . . .that may lend themselves to increasing green space in the neighborhood.”
 
In 2009, in its South of South Walkability Plan, PCPC again highlighted this issue, stating, “The South of South neighborhood has one of the lowest amounts of green space in Philadelphia.”
 
Even in tough economic times, the City of Philadelphia has made the creation of 500 new acres of green public space a top priority of its Greenworks Philadelphia plan. As recently as December 7, 2010, the City, in announcing its Green2015 Action Plan, the City committed to targeting lots just like 2200 Catharine Street, as well as public school yards, to achieve this ambitious goal. Because the efforts at 2200 Catharine Street so perfectly dovetail with the City’s efforts Mayor Michael Nutter has issued a letter of support for the project.
 
Project Team:
The Catharine Park project team is made up of a dedicated group of near-neighbors, design professionals and business owners who share the common goal of making this park a reality.
 
Funding:
This project is financed by the South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA), the PECO Green Region Grant Program, generous donations from neighbors and numerous in-kind contributions from stakeholders.
 

Donating:

To Donate:

  • Use the Pay Pal donation widget at the bottom of this page.
  • Or visit the Catharine Park project homepage and use the Pay Pal donation widget there.
  • Drop off or mail a check made payable to "SOSNA" or the "South of South Neighborhood Association" to 1901 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146
  • All donors will be acknowledged on the website.

Brick Engraving:

  • Anyone who gives over $150 will be emailed a form for the engraved brick.  Each brick can accommodate 3 lines of characters, and up to 15 characters per line.
  • Bricks will be installed at set intervals once a critical mass of new bricks has been reached.

Additional Sponsorship Options

  • Please contact SOSNA at 215-732-8446 if you are interested in higher level sponsorships. 
  • You can contribute towards a specific component of the park plan, or offer in-kind support as well.
  • High-level sponsors - both monetary or in-kind - will be recognized on a plaque engraved and supplied by CAVA International.

Tax Deduction:

  • SOSNA is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit
  • A portion or all of your donation may be tax deductible.
  • Please consult your tax advisor
  • SOSNA will send all donors a thank you and receipt letter affirming your contribution.