The Greening Coatesville Initiative is another example of the Brandywine Health Foundation bringing the right partners together, at the right time, to address the issues our community has identified as a priority.
Cities where parks, recreation and trails play a vital role in the lives of their residents are vibrant places to live and have proven to be attractive to businesses and residents. In a disadvantaged urban community, public parks, recreation, and green spaces are particularly important. These resources offer opportunities for people of all incomes, abilities, and social circumstances to come together in a common space to experience nature, build strong family and community bonds, get fit, play, de-stress, and enjoy life.
In 2016, the City of Coatesville, Brandywine Health Foundation, and Natural Lands partnered to complete a five-year action plan for the city’s parks: “Coatesville Park 2021, An Action Plan for Lively Parks and Healthy People.” The planning process included a significant amount of public input, which yielded a clear list of the community’s priorities that are addressed by all phases of the City’s Action Plan: The City of Coatesville 2021 – An Action Plan for Parks and Recreation (click to view or download) Funding for the assessment was provided through the Brandywine Health Foundation with generous support from ArcelorMittal, PECO and the Philadelphia Foundation.
Following the Action Plan, the Brandywine Health Foundation, Natural Lands and the City of Coatesville created the Greening Coatesville Initiative to begin the transformation of the public parks and recreation system into a safe community treasure where residents can play, socialize, get fit, and connect with nature, and where businesses thrive because people want to live, work and visit here. The three focus areas for this work include:
- Build capacity. Build the City’s capacity to provide the safe and well maintained park system that its citizens desire.
- Build community. Channel the incredible volunteer interest into addressing the City’s highest priority programs and park improvements. Enlist non-profit partners to carry out programs and physical improvements that meet City needs and desires.
- Build facilities (and maintain them). In accordance with the Needs Assessment and future priorities, seek funding for highest priority physical improvements to City parks and facilities.
Thanks to this initiative, Coatesville caught the attention of KaBOOM! They came to Coatesville on October 7, 2016 and helped the community build a spectacular playground in Patton Park, in the West End of Coatesville in 6 hours, with generous financial and volunteer support from PECO and the Applestone Foundation.
Fortunately, a window of opportunity opened to transform Palmer Park in Coatesville’s East End, into a source of community pride and a healthy, thriving place for children, families, and adults to recreate. In 2017, the City – again with the assistance of Brandywine Health Foundation, Natural Lands, and with funding from Chester County – completed a master plan for the park with enormous input from neighbors surrounding the park. This revitalization, broken into four phases, will seamlessly blend traditional play equipment and basketball courts with winding paths, seating, beautiful landscaping, educational water features, natural play equipment, and green infrastructure elements that manage storm water. All generations will enjoy these newly created spaces. The innovativeness of the project introduces natural play and conservation features in an impoverished community where such play experiences are quite rare.