Playtime at Frankford park

Kids en­joy the new play­ground equip­ment dur­ing the grand re­open­ing of the small park at Hedge and Plum streets in Frank­ford on Ju­ly 9. Photo by MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Kids don’t wait for rib­bons to be cut when there’s new play­ground equip­ment to test out. A hour be­fore the of­fi­cial, post­poned-a-couple-times, grand re­open­ing of the small park at Hedge and Plum streets in Frank­ford on Ju­ly 9, the young cli­en­tele was up on the new gear, giv­ing it some ap­pre­ci­at­ive squeals of ap­prov­al.

Renov­at­ing the “pock­et park” with new play­ground equip­ment, benches, trees and a workout sta­tion for adults took some money and a little pa­tience. 

OK, maybe a lot of pa­tience. 

The idea for mak­ing the long-neg­lected par­cel in­to a neigh­bor­hood as­set ger­min­ated a few years back when Kim­berly Wash­ing­ton, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Frank­ford Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, and le­gis­lat­ive can­did­ate Jason Dawkins star­ted pitch­ing it to the neigh­bors who live around Hedge Street, Wilmot Park at Mul­berry and Mead­ow, and a small weed-filled lot at Tack­awanna and Mead­ow.

Those in­ter­ested formed the Frank­ford Parks Group. The or­gan­iz­a­tion, now headed by Frank­ford res­id­ent Tony Smith, star­ted small and stayed small, but res­ults grew over time.

Wilmot, across from the Second Baptist Church of Frank­ford, was re­stored and en­hanced. Its bas­ket­ball court was cleaned and painted. Play­ground equip­ment was in­stalled. A flag­pole was raised. A block down Mead­ow at Tack­awanna, the lot was cleared of trash and debris. Even­tu­ally, it be­came a com­munity garden with ve­get­ables and flowers. Its one tree was joined by sev­er­al oth­ers that sur­round a stone path near new fen­cing.

None of that happened overnight, and both sites had to be cleaned and re­cleaned by vo­lun­teers.

Over at Hedge Street, which once had a pool, a battle with weeds went on for years, with the weeds usu­ally win­ning. There was a large mur­al de­pict­ing loc­al his­tory on two of the walls that line Hedge Street, but they were so fre­quently graf­fit­ied that the mur­al fi­nally had to be painted over.

The little Hedge Street park was the last of the three tar­geted prop­er­ties to be com­pleted. It’s an as­set neigh­bors have pledged to keep an as­set. 

City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez (D-7th dist.), Dawkins’ former boss, ar­ranged for the city money to pay for the new gear, and she got a lot of thanks from Wash­ing­ton.

Ad­dress­ing a good-sized crowd of res­id­ents, the coun­cil­wo­man asked them to “keep it clean and keep it safe. … We need your co­oper­a­tion. This is for you.”

“This is your park,” Smith said. “The city is not go­ing to give you any­thing if you don’t take care of it.” ••

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