Recently, we have heard that the major capital improvements for Cianfrani Park that we have been discussing at our meetings will come to fruition this October. Neighbors have been working with Councilman Squilla and the Department of Parks and Recreation for almost four years. The catalyst for this special effort was the donation of an historic statue of the City Seal of Philadelphia. The money comes from a program set to expire unless it was used by this fiscal year. We are taking advantage of this funding opportunity in order to get as many infrastructure improvements done for our park as possible. An opportunity like this is rare and will probably never happen again. It will give us, not only the statue installation that we started out with, but a new electrical system, water source, new benches, new paving including semi permeable pavers for the center square, fencing, renewed turf surface, and nine new trees.
You can see the whole plan that has been worked and reworked at our regular monthly meetings: “Opportunity knocks: February 4 meeting about the sculpture project and park upgrades.”
At that time we had a unanimous vote in favor of the project. For those that missed that meeting we have had information about the sculpture and infrastructure project at most cleanups over the last two seasons, as well as it’s posting on the web site and on the bulletin board in the park.
The decision to replace the Mimosas was not easy. We met with no fewer than five arborists whose consensus was that the trees were near their end and were unlikely to survive repaving the center square. Mimosas have about a 10 to 20 year life span. These were planted in 1968. We were all upset to hear from the arborists and the three-landscape professionals that are part of FOCP that the mimosas are not long for this world- despite their obvious beauty and tremendous shade. We tried to find ways to save them but have been convinced, after much conversation, that replacement with large-caliper trees will be an enduring, generational investment in the park’s future. Meantime we intend to create a shade structure to give relief from the sun in the center of the park.
The park’s electrical systems must be upgraded, which requires trenching that goes through the center of the park lengthwise. This will disturb the mimosa root systems. The center paving needs to be removed – especially after falls from people tripping on uneven pavement. FOCP sees this as an opportunity to improve the quality of the pavers that also support the longevity and health of our trees. Both of these necessary upgrades will disturb the health of trees already stressed, and near the end of their expected lifespan. So even if we could find smart, cost-effective ways to save the mimosas, we’re not sure they’d be saved in the near-term much less the long-term.
We meet at Palumbo Playground the First Tuesday of every month at 7pm. If anyone has an interest in discussing the issues before August, we can try to set up a casual meeting in the park at a mutually convenient time.
Friends of CianfraniPark