Northeast Times

Fishtown and Darell Clarke: a perfect pair

Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell Clarke throws a pitch to kids on Sat­urday at Fishtown’s Het­zell field. Clarke was honored by Fishtown for his con­tri­bu­tions to the com­munity. GREG PACANA / STAR PHOTO

“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 gp­pacana@ya­hoo.com.

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