Northeast Times

A picturesque park picnic in Port Richmond

Port Rich­mond’s Camp­bell Square was filled last week with neigh­bors who gathered to en­joy food, mu­sic and the sun­shine.

Sit­ting pretty: Ava, 8, (right) and Sloane, 2, en­joy the mu­sic of the Pol­ish Amer­ic­an String Band at the Pic­nic in the Park last week in Port Rich­mond’s Camp­bell Square. The event was sponsored by Wynn Re­sorts. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

They came. They saw. They scarfed hot dogs and bur­gers.

At an even­ing pic­nic in Camp­bell Square sponsored by Wynn Re­sorts last week, more than 500 neigh­bors gathered in the park at the heart of Port Rich­mond to en­joy live mu­sic and free food.

“This pic­nic is unique to Port Rich­mond,” said Mi­chael Weaver, Wynn Re­sorts’ seni­or vice pres­id­ent of mar­ket­ing strategy. “We wanted to have an op­por­tun­ity to thank the com­munity for their sup­port, which has been tre­mend­ous.”

Nu­mer­ous vis­it­ors said the pic­nic party, held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tues­day, Ju­ly 17, was the most crowded event they had ever seen at Camp­bell Square. 

But while the “pic­nic in the park” event was sponsored by Wynn Re­sorts, one of six com­pan­ies cur­rently in the run­ning for a lone Phil­adelphia casino li­cense, Wynn rep­res­ent­at­ives said the pic­nic was sep­ar­ate from that pro­cess.

“The Gam­ing Con­trol Board is go­ing to make a straight-up de­cision,” Weaver said, re­fer­ring to the state board that will award the casino li­cense in late 2013. “This is more of a thank you than an ex­pect­a­tion that they would do something for us,” Weaver said of the pic­nic.

Re­fer­ring to com­munity sup­port, Weaver cited the Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation Zon­ing Com­mit­tee meet­ing in April, where 173 neigh­bors voted in fa­vor of the Wynn casino and hotel pro­pos­al, and 55 voted against it. 

Weaver also said that neigh­bors’ feed­back has im­pacted the designs for Wynn Phil­adelphia, and led to the de­cision to in­clude a 4.5 acre pub­lic river walk in the pro­ject’s design.

If built, the Wynn pro­ject would oc­cupy 60 acres along Rich­mond Street from Schirra Drive to Columbia Av­en­ue, with 18 acres de­voted to green park space, ac­cord­ing to Wynn Re­sorts.

The “thank you” to the com­munity also in­cluded the prom­ise of siz­able dona­tions to three loc­al groups. Dur­ing the Pic­nic in the Park event, Wynn Re­sorts presen­ted a $3,000 check to the Port­side Arts Cen­ter, and said that they would also donate $1,000 to Port Rich­mond on Patrol and Civic (PRO­PAC), and $1,000 to the Friends of Camp­bell Square.

“We’re really tickled for Wynn to re­cog­nize us as an as­set in the com­munity,” said Port­side Art Cen­ter dir­ect­or Kim Creighton. She said the dona­tion would go to­wards the cen­ter’s arts camp, schol­ar­ship fund and gen­er­al op­er­a­tion­al costs.

PRO­PAC pres­id­ent Ken Paul de­clined to com­ment on their con­tri­bu­tion. Friends of Camp­bell Square events co­ordin­at­or Jen Bytof said they had not re­ceived their dona­tion as of press-time and could not yet com­ment on how it would be used.

Fest­iv­it­ies in­cluded the Pol­ish Amer­ic­an String Band’s hour-long per­form­ance, fol­lowed by loc­al band The Ex­cep­tions, who took over to play funk and soul fa­vor­ites for the rest of the even­ing.

Asked about the Wynn Phil­adelphia pro­pos­al, neigh­bors’ re­ac­tions var­ied from strong sup­port to skep­ti­cism.

“I’m in fa­vor of the casino com­ing here and the eco­nom­ic boom it’ll give to the eco­nomy. We need more things like this in the area,” said Jim My­ers, a re­tired sheet met­al work­er who resides on Clear­field Street in Port Rich­mond.

Oth­er loc­als were more cau­tious about sup­port­ing the casino, or were just at the pic­nic for a good time.

“I can’t see them put­ting that there, not when you’ve got that oth­er one [Sug­ar House Casino] right there,” said Jim McMa­hon, 78, a re­tired glass fact­ory work­er and Port Rich­mond nat­ive, re­fer­ring to Wynn Phil­adelphia’s pro­posed loc­a­tion. “It should be down on Wash­ing­ton Av­en­ue.”

En­joy­ing the live mu­sic at the pic­nic with her grand­moth­er was Port Rich­mond wo­man Kim Scol­lom.

Scol­lom said that in gen­er­al, she thinks de­vel­op­ment is good for the neigh­bor­hood.

“I’m all for build­ing up down there on the river. I don’t see any point in drama about it. I don’t see any­body else build­ing there,” she said. ull;•

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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