Hunting Park: Leader Says Wards Should Be Redrawn

The Philadelphia City Council recently passed a redistricting map late last year, leaving at least a dozen of the city’s 66 wards divided by two or more council districts, including wards within Hunting Park that’s split by three council districts.

Ward leader Elaine Tomlin spoke about the degradation of the Hunting Park track and field.

“There is an underlying issue here that we won’t address,” Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said during the redistricting process. “The ward structure needs to be totally redone. Wards no longer represent neighborhoods.”

Sanchez represents the 7th District, where Elaine Tomlin lives. Pointing to a beaten bed of scorched grass and dirt no more than a half mile from Hunting Park’s trademark park, Tomlin said the field is in such bad condition she prefers heading to Temple University’s track to exercise than to risk injury here.

“You’ll roll an ankle walking around that track,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin serves as the 42nd Democratic ward leader and said the field has been that way for over a decade and that it will be that way for another decade.

The dilapidated state of the field represents the neighborhood’s overall decline and neglect. It’s just one of its many social and political problems that Tomlin can’t fix because its ward is divided by three City Council districts.

Tomlin said the outdated ward boundaries “reduces your community crowd. People who live here don’t know who’s representing them because there’s three of them.”

And that, she added, makes it difficult for her to obtain services from the city like repairing old lots or fields. The City Council has finalized a new map to be implemented in 2015.