“No politician has done more for Fishtown,” said Hetzell Advisory Council treasurer Shawn Murphy of City Council President Darrell Clarke.
For the better part of 10 years, Philadelphia City Councilman Darrell Clarke has been giving to the residents of Fishtown. On Saturday, May 11, the residents of Fishtown gathered at Hetzell field to express their gratitude to Clarke, who is now the president of Philadelphia City Council.
The ceremony began with opening remarks from the president of the Hetzell’s Advisory Council, Greg Fox.
Fox said that his relationship with Clarke began back in 2002 when he approached the councilman with the unique idea of taking over the administration and maintenance of Hetzell field from the city and putting it in the hands of the community of Fishtown.
Since then, Fishtown and Hetzell playground have become shining examples of how local government and community can work together to manage and maintain a neighborhood recreational facility.
“This is a guy who has come through for us on everything that we’ve ever asked of him,” Fox said of Clarke.
Fox also acknowledged the contributions of his fellow Hetzell Advisory Council members, Artie Dolan, Jay Jones, and Shawn Murphy. Fox described Dolan as the relentless force whose dogged determination was behind much of the improvements made to the Hetzell’s field over the last decade.
“In my 46 years living in this community, no politician has done more for Fishtown,” said Shawn Murphy, treasurer of the Hetzell Advisory Council and president of the Fishtown Athletic Club.
The most recent example of councilman Clarke’s largesse is a brand-new building located near the Thompson Street and Columbia Avenue entrance of Hetzell. The building is equipped with a refreshment stand, running water, an equipment storage area, and men and women’s restroom facilities.
Greg Fox joked that this is the first time since the Frank Rizzo administration that the children of Hetzell would not have to go to one of the local bars in order to use the restroom.
Many of the leaders in the Fishtown community were on hand including FACT (Fishtown Action Committee) President Maggie O’Brien. O’Brien described Councilman Clarke as a great asset to the Fishtown community.
“For many years we struggled to get things from the city, it was nearly impossible. However, all of that changed when councilman Clarke took over the 5th district,” O’Brien said. “We are very lucky that he and his staff are willing to listen and to work with the community to get things done.”
Margi Megill, a lifetime Fishtown resident and former vice president of the Fishtown Neighbors Association, said of councilman Clarke, “When Darrell first took over this part of the district, Maggie O’Brien and I were very involved in the FNA. Darrell reached out to us to get to know the community and determine what our needs were. Darrell Clarke sat in my dining room with the other members of the FNA board. Because of Darrell Clarke and his close association with then Mayor John Street, he was able to get things done for us.”
Greg Fox presented Clarke with an engraved plaque, which read:
“The friends of Hetzell playground would like to thank council president, Darrell Clarke for his dedication to the Fishtown community and the beautification of Hetzell playground.”
In addition, a large placard was unveiled on the Columbia Avenue fence at Hetzell’s in honor of councilman Clarke, which reads:
“Thank you Darrell Clarke, Fishtown’s Own City Councilman.”
In his closing remarks, Clarke reminded the neighbors that nothing would have been possible without them.
“What I do, I do because I am supposed to, but what you do, you do because you care. I am just glad I could play a small part in helping to facilitate the accomplishments of this great neighborhood,” Clarke said. “Fishtown, I love you. You are awesome.”
Reporter Gregory Pacana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.