Residents are difficult to find outside in Hunting Park during the winter months.
Even right after school lets out, the athletic fields remain empty, and the enormous gazebo that acts as a focal point for the park is as deserted as it is large.
But some of those that do make it out to the 87-acre park see an opportunity for the whole neighborhood.
“In the summer, they usually play soccer all the time,” Hafiz Haqq said. “And that’s the ball field Ryan Howard came to a while ago, they’re playing there too.”
It could be difficult for a passer-by to ignore the garbage lying around and see the promise of a better neighborhood. But for Haqq, a resident of Hunting Park for six years, there is only possibility.
“I believe as they change here, this park, things will get better,” Haqq said.
The same goes for 68-year-old Andy Andjur, who has been a resident of the Hunting Park area for 35 years and enjoys the same spot in the park everyday.
“[The park] is alright by me,” Andjur said, waiting to be picked up after his routine walk. “I’ll go down that corner and play dominoes, go to work, then come here and relax and go home.”
The $5 million improvement to the parks baseball field is only part of a larger revitalization project. The Fairmount Park Conservancy has partnered with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department in a $20 million project that has already created two playgrounds, a farmer’s market and a community garden. There will also be improvements to the football field and the addition better lighting for the park.