Founding the Philadelphia Parks Alliance

In 1983 several Philadelphians concerned about local park issues met and asked each other, "who looks after the interests of the entire park system in Philadelphia?" and "why are funding and staff being reduced every year for our city's park system?"

“Let’s call the Friends of the Parks,” one person suggested. Although there were numerous local park and activity groups, the team was astounded to discover there was no such organization. With the able assistance of Fairmount Park Commissioner Ernesta Ballard and Pete Hoskins, who had just been appointed Executive Director of Fairmount Park, the team contacted every group who had used the park, or expressed an interest in it — even block associations.

Early work involved opening communications with City Council, testifying about the ever-shrinking parks budget and the need to expand it, assisting with the 1983-4 Fairmount Park Master Plan Study, holding membership meetings and tours all around the city hosted by local parks groups, and publishing a well-read newsletter.

All of the founding members are delighted to see how much the Friends of Philadelphia Parks - now the Philadelphia Parks Alliance - has grown and wish it many years of success in helping to make Philadelphia an ever better city!

Ernesta Drinker Ballard

Ernesta Drinker Ballard