Audubon/Outward Bound Proposal to Build Conservation
and Leadership Center in East Fairmount Park

On Wednesday February 27, the Commission on Parks and Recreation heard public testimony on Audubon/Outward Bound's proposal to build a Leadership and Conservation Center in East Fairmount Park. This was the second major test of the new Open Lands Protection Ordinance, passed by City Council and signed into law by the Mayor in April 2011.

The Parks Alliance is happy to report that the second test of Philadelphia’s new Open Lands Protection Ordinance is a success. The National Audubon Society and Philadelphia Outward Bound’s draft sublease for the East Park Leadership and Conservation Center (“EPLACC”) incorporates a much needed Public Access Plan.

Through a series of discussions with Audubon and Outward Bound and in our Comments submitted to the Commission on Parks and Recreation, the Parks Alliance has expressed our view that rigorous implementation of Philadelphia’s new Open Lands Protection Ordinance is critical to ensuring that there is no net loss of the parks, recreation and open spaces that make Philadelphia a great city in which to live, work and play. To that point, the Alliance has expressed our concern that the Center provide sufficient access and enjoyment to the general public free of charge, in a continuation of park use.  

The Parks Alliance thanks Audubon and Outward Bound for listening and responding to our comments and those of other stakeholders, including community groups, citizens, and leadership in Strawberry Mansion, as reflected in the Public Access Plan incorporated as an exhibit into their draft lease for the Center. The Parks Alliance believes Audubon/Outward Bound’s collaborative project is an excellent one that will preserve a man-made lake that has become a sanctuary for migratory birds and wildlife and will offer outstanding programming, while creating an exciting new amenity for Strawberry Mansion, East Fairmount Park, and the City of Philadelphia.

We also thank Audubon and Outward Bound for their substantial efforts to make this special project a reality. We look forward to working with them, Parks and Recreation, the Water Department, the Commission and government officials in any way we are able, to design a project that is in every way compatible with park surroundings and that maximizes public access.

Press

Philadelphia Daily News: Strawberry Mansion residents air concerns over proposed conservation center
CBS Philly: Group Says Giving Fairmount Parkland To Conservation Center Must Be Equitable
Philadelphia Daily News: Public hearing in Strawberry Mansion to address proposed conservation center

Learn More

Philadelphia Parks Alliance's Comments on Audubon/Outward Bound Proposal
Philadelphia Parks Alliance's June 18th Testimony on Audubon/Outward Bound Proposal
East Park Leadership and Conservation Center Proposal
East Park Leadership and Conservation Center Environmental Assessment
Philadelphia’s Open Lands Protection Ordinance