A GAS STATION TURNED INTO A PARK!


Back in 1972, Edwin “Ned” Wolf was president of West Mt. Airy Neighbors.  Yvonne Haskins was the Director.  Every day when she walked to work at Summit Church, she passed an abandoned gas station on the corner of Ellet and McCallum Streets.  It was an unsightly little hut that she thought didn’t make sense being there.  So, Haskins made calls to Atlantic Richfield (owner of the station) and the City Fairmount Park Commission to see if we could get a deal.  Ned Wolf supported her effort and also made phone calls.  That part of the long story made short:  Atlantic Richfield agreed to remove the hut and storage tanks and transferred the land to the City for parkland.  And by the way, both Ned and Yvonne were 30 somethings, enjoying this leadership role.

In 1969, Edwin (Ned) C. Wolf , a founder and the first Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (“PILCOP”), was well known as being on the front lines fighting against discrimination, inequality, and poverty.  In 1979, a couple of years after Ned’s death at the young age of 37, the park was dedicated to him for both his groundbreaking legal work and his dedication to his community through his leadership of West Mt. Airy Neighbors. PILCOP posted the following statement on its website:

Sign Installed in Renovated Ned Wolf Park Commemorates Ned’s “Burning Passion for Social Justice”

In April, 2011 a sign was placed in Ned Wolf Park, located at the corner of Ellet and McCallum Streets, to commemorate the life and work of Edwin (Ned) C. Wolf, the Law Center’s first Executive Director. The park, located in Philadelphia’s West Mt. Airy neighborhood, was posthumously dedicated to Ned in 1979. The placement of this sign marks the end of a renovation project that began in the fall of 2006, when neighbors in the area organized to transform the previously neglected space, remodeling the park and planting over 1400 plants.

Yet the first park installation wasn’t successful.  For many years, Haskins saw trash, debris, old tires peppering the park.  However, within the last decade, NWP has become a jewel in West Mt. Airy.  The Friends of NWP have carefully prepared maps to identify every plant location in the park. It’s a wonderful guide to help visitors try these plants in their own garden. We weed, water, transplant, divide, feed, mulch and carefully plan the introduction of new plants and ideas, such as the erection of the tool shed.  NWP is self-sustaining from the labor of these volunteers in fund-raising and plant sales.

Sunday mornings, at 8 am, in good weather, our neighbor, Zak Zaklad, from Glen Echo Road is there teaching a Tai Chi class.  Members of the Germantown Jewish Center are seen stopping to sit on a bench to chat on Saturdays as they leave services. It’s a place where families sometimes have Easter Egg Hunts.  And the perennial plant sale every year in May is known (according to Ken Weinstein) to be the best sale in the city…and he confirms that by being one of our best customers every year!!

Ned Wolf Park is in the center of West Mt. Airy, forming a part of our village center on Carpenter Lane.  It’s a jewel that volunteers have developed with careful design and experimentation.  It demonstrates a community coming together to care for an open space for all to enjoy.  The “Got Schist” article is a good example of the work being done with open arms to West Mt. Airy to please stop by, especially in the Spring when the amazing beauty arrives like magic!

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