Samaria Bailey Tribune Correspondent – Wednesday, April 1, 2015 6:00 am – Despite four cancelled groundbreaking ceremonies, Germantown’s Vernon Park is set to receive a makeover, beginning this spring. City Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ office scheduled groundbreaking events in February and March to announce the renovations, but they were each cancelled because of the weather. “The groundbreaking was cancelled so we can go ahead and get the work done,” she said. “The renovations are planned to start as soon as the weather clears up.”
The park will get a $1 million makeover that includes new playground equipment, lighting enhancements and adult exercise equipment to include stationary bikes and treadmills. “We think that a million dollar investment is going to go a long way,” Bass said. “It’s not going to feel so dark. You will be able to stroll through Vernon Park on a warm evening and not feel intimidated or afraid and when we have the ‘Oldies in the Park’ series, it’s going be this beautiful canopies of light. It’s really going to be fabulous.”
The Friends of Vernon Park (FOVP) President Ruth Seeley said she is glad the improvements will come to life. The group has been working with Bass since 2012 on the project.
“When Bass was first elected, we shared information about our rain garden, holding clean ups, gardening events and community events in the park [and] she listened to us and shared with us some of her vision for the area,” Seeley said.
Seeley noted last year, FOVP, drafted some improvement plans for the park and eventually met with city agencies “on a much broader and more comprehensive plan.” The final plan was completed by a landscape designer from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, using the ideas from FOVP members.
“With the new lighting, pathways, children’s playground and adult fitness equipment we hope more people will see the park as a great community resource,” Seeley said. “Friends of Vernon Park were delightedly surprised when we first heard of the plan and our excitement has just grown as we have worked with the landscape designer to bring the plans to the construction stage.”
Yahne Ndgo, a Germantown mother, resident and social activist, said the renovations come at a vital moment, mainly because of the energy the community has built around the Park’s upkeep.
Last year, FOVP completed 12 cleanups, planted gardens and hosted several activities including a flea market and family picnic day. Bass has also hosted the “Oldies in the Park” series, an old school music jam session in the summer, open to all. It’s been running for two years.
“The time came when the things that need to be addressed in the park couldn’t be handled by volunteerism alone, such as the redevelopment of the playground space, rerouting of paths [and] lighting, the things prioritized in the improvement plan,” Ndgo said. “The improvements in Vernon Park will further establish Germantown as a happening place, as more and more people will be inspired by the improvements to make fun, entertaining, engaging and community building activities happen in the Emerald of Germantown.”