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At long last, Philly parks likely to get more money

Philadelphia's Parks & Recreation Department has long lacked the funds to properly maintain its facilities, but now it is poised to get an additional $2.675 million in the second half of fiscal 2013.

The city's parks department has operated with the same amount of money for upkeep and maintenance for decades. The result: Deteriorating and at times dangerous facilities with leaky roofs, broken swing sets and a host of other problems. Mayor Nutter had hoped to change that by increasing the Parks & Recreation Department's funding by $8 million yearly.

But then the recession hit, and those plans disappeared. Park advocates, led by Lauren Bornfriend, executive director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, weren't willing to take no for an answer.

"We said it wasn't over, and it wasn't," said Bornfriend. This week, Council's Appropriations Committee approved an additional $2.675 million to pay for a maintenance team for the department.

Mayor Nutter is expected to sign the bill if it passes full Council. The additional park money was on the table during last spring's budget discussions but did not make the final cut as the city struggled to find money for schools and other needs.

But city revenues were above projections for year-end fiscal 2012, and Council decided it could boost Parks and Recreation funding after all, beginning in the second half of 2013.

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