Residents Fed Up with condition of Northwood Park

Residents on the 900 block of Harrison Street say they are fed up with what they consider a lack of maintenance of Northwood Park by the city. Their chief complaints center around the large branches that have been cut down but not removed from the park, large underbrush that is building up along the sides of the old railroad viaduct cutting through the park and the burned down garage that is facing Rutland Street seemingly abandoned. On Veterans Day, I met Larry Norton, a 9 year resident of Northwood who lives across the street from the park, as he talked about Northwood Park’s role in the neighborhood and how’s it’s neglect threatens the area’s stability.

residents standing in front of overgrowth

Larry considers the park being across the street from him a huge asset.  “It’s like being out in the country, you don’t get this everywhere else in Philadelphia” he says.  He fears that further neglect will begin damaging his neighborhood.

The sidewalk across the street from the park presents a much prettier picture, with residents diligently keeping up on their properties.  And that’s one of Larry’s complaints.  There are people here using the park and wanting it in the best condition possible.  Larry says he has complained repeatedly to the city about the underbrush that is building up along the sides of the old railroad viaduct that runs through park.  His frustration has grown as he’s called 311 numerous times and has been given confirmation numbers to track the issue but has never received any followups.  Larry beleives that the underbrush not being cleared out is hurting the residents enjoyment of the park.  He says it’s become a haven for those seeking to do drugs and drink out of view, and that, in turn, keeps residents from using the area.

He notes that he’s seen the city send three workmen to empty the trash can in the tennis court but no one has showed up to remove any overgrowth that has accumulated over the years.  He doesn’t think it’s a hard job, “maybe twice a year” they could come out.

Larry points to the tennis courts that sit on the southeast corner of the park and wonders why they can’t have the tennis nets all the time like the courts on City Line and up on Cottman Ave.  He says that the tennis camps bring their own and take them down when they’re done.  He recalls that at one time they left the nets up but the skate boarders took them down and put them in the corner.  Then they one day they just disappeared entirely.  Larry believes that leaving them up would encourage more tennis players to use the park and help spiral productive uses in general.

Tom McHugh, a 28 year resident across the street, says the park is in the worst condition he’s ever seen.  He says sees kids playing in the burned out remains of the garages at the edge of the park on Northwood Street weekly.  It’s only a matter of time before it gets set on fire again.

Joe Krause, the Northwood Civic president, notes that the abandoned building is another problem entirely.  “With that you can’t just go demolish it.  It’s still private property, we know who owns it and where they’re at, but getting them to do anything about it is another story.”

Joe also notes that the city rarely takes any action it’s own.  You really need a community group to start handling the project from which the area’s politicians can jump in and support, as is the case with the wildly successful Friends of Overington Park.

The residents are hoping that spotlighting the condition will highlight the issue and hopefully create lasting change.  The notice for the upcoming Northwood Civic meeting shows the park on the agenda for this Tuesday.  Interested parties are encouraged to attend.

  • Diane Kunze

    It’s been 9 years of hard work fixing up Overington Park. Yes, your park needs to be cleaned at least twice a year. Get a group together and do it. Stop waiting for the city to fix your park. We asked for help from the community and got it. We started out small and only cleaned up the park. Then we started to plant. That is where we got most of our group, telling gardeners they could plant the park. Our workers came from, first halfway houses needing community service. Use them, use whoever you can pull together. Someone has to take charge and be the one to organize your events. This will take more time then you think. You must make the commitment to stick with it. Start by doing the Mayors clean up this April. They will give you tools to do the job, and you get to keep the tools. Plan now for the spring. Stop waiting for someone else to do the job. Jump in and start your own Friends group. The city can help support your efforts but the community has to put in the time to clean up their park. Start small and build, that’s what we did and are doing at Overington Park. You can make a difference with your hard work, claim your park, take control, now!
    Diane Kunze, president, Friends of Overington Park

  • Matt A.

    I think people who live near Northwood Park should be glad they have it at all; I live near the El terminus and would be delighted to have such a woodsy place nearby. If you don’t like the logs and such there, clean them up yourself.

    By the way, has anyone noticed that the city has put up a notice on 5003 Penn Street ordered its owner to repair it or demolish it within ten days? That’s gotta be progress, I think.

  • Jim

    I’ll have to check out that house.