Philly Was Chosen to Host an International Parks Conference

The announcement comes after Mayor Kenney unveiled his plan to spruce up the city's parks.

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Philadelphia has been chosen by the City Parks Alliance to host its 2021 “Greater & Greener” conference, a gathering of park professionals and political leaders from around the world. The organization is devoted specifically to urban parks.

Officials suggested the selection is another sign that Philadelphia has turned a corner in the public perception, emphasizing the city’s strengths that have attracted millennials and helped reverse decades of population loss.

“Philadelphia is just really experiencing a renaissance in public space, driving the future of our city and its quality of life,” Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation department, said in Friday’s announcement.

“Something quite powerful is happening in the city through our park work,” said Nancy Goldenberg, executive director of the Center City District Foundation and a City Parks Alliance board member. “We were the manufacturing capital of the world at one point. Now we are reusing our old infrastructure and abandoned lots, creating public parks and open spaces that connect to communities and help neighbors connect to each other.”

The announcement comes just a few weeks after Mayor Jim Kenney announced his plan to spruce up the city’s parks and other public spaces by issuing $300 million in bonds and raising $200 million more from private sources. And this week, he revealed plans to create “Philadelphia International Cup,” a citywide soccer tournament pitting neighborhood teams against each other — played mostly at Philadelphia park sites — culminating in a championship game at Citizens Bank Park.

So it seems clear Kenney sees the continued cultivation and use of parks as key to his first-term agenda.

“I think this investment will give people in every community a sense of equity and fairness, that we care about them and we value them as citizens,” he said last month, in pitching the parks makeover.

Today, he added: “Our selection as host for this international conference speaks to the value we have placed on our parks and public spaces as centers for civic engagement and community gathering.”

The conference is expected to attract 1,500 people from 200 cities and 20 countries.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.