| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Development News

Lovett Library bookmarked for Mt. Airy's next public space

2011 was the year for public space and parks in Philadelphia, with the opening of Penn Park, The Porch at 30th St. Station, and the Race St. Pier. Mt. Airy USA (MAUSA) is looking to bring that trend northwest for 2012. MAUSA, in conjunction with community groups and other stakeholders, has been studying what to do with the open space next to the Lovett Library for months. They have formulated a "conceptual plan" for an open, child-friendly performance space that will complement their efforts to transform Germantown Ave. into a more livable and walkable corridor.

The community made it clear during three public meetings that any outdoor area at Lovett should preserve the open space and support performances, according to Anuj Gupta, the Executive Director at MAUSA. Locals were also quite passionate about maintaining "the green orientation of this space," says Gupta. He says more trees will be planted, but the space as planned will function as an open amphitheater. MAUSA has reached out to the Curtis Institute of Music to see if they'd be interested in allowing their students to perform outside Lovett. 

Gupta says the proposed park will be tyke-friendly and sustainable, accommodating a story-time circle and nature play for young children. MAUSA may partner with a local arboretum on the nature play. Gupta hopes to better control the stormwater that flows off Lovett's roof through use of a rain garden. Along with the rain garden, native plant species will be used.

This public space proposal comes on the heels of a successful summer movie series on the grounds of the Lovett. Gupta brags that 130 to 150 people coalesced at the library during the course of the eight-week movie series. Trolley Car Diner provided concessions, and all movies were family-friendly. Gupta foresees the upcoming public space making this a tradition. 

A number of community and city groups have been involved in the planning for Mt. Airy's newest public space. The Community Design Collaborative (CDC) provided complimentary design services. The Free Library of Philadelphia has provided its support and assistance. East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN and WMAN) have both been intimately involved in the community engagement process. Even the local religious community hasn't been left out, as Gupta lauds the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement for being a partner.

MAUSA hopes that this public space jibes with corridor improvements along Germantown Ave. People should "have an incentive to walk from Cresheim Valley [Drive] to Washington Lane," says Gupta with hopeful inflection. He says there is currently little activity on the stretch of the Avenue around the library. Gupta also states that there is no designed park in Northwest Philadelphia, although he says Chestnut Hill's Pastorius Park comes close. He says Lovett can hold the area's first designed park. 

Anuj Gupta estimates that MAUSA's "final conceptual plan" will be ready for public consumption in May. He hopes to hold a ceremony replete with performances at Lovett's grounds to present the plan. While the community has been split on what to do with the space, it looks like MAUSA worked hard to run with the local consensus views. It might just be a few months until Mt. Airy proves that 2012 is the year of the public space in the Northwest.   

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Anuj Gupta, Mt. Airy USA
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts