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Leroy Fisher

"I led the revitalization of Hunting Park."

Leroy Fisher was already a seasoned neighborhood activist when he enrolled in CPI. He sees CPI not just as an opportunity to continue to learn how to further his own goals as a Citizen Planner, but also to share his knowledge and success revitalizing Hunting Park with others in order to see other neighborhood parks go through the renaissance he helped create in North Philadelphia.

Established in 1856, the 87-acre park was once a crown jewel in Philadelphia’s park system, with hundreds of trees, numerous athletic fields, and a state-of-the-art recreation center. Hunting Park’s neglected facilities fell into disrepair in the 1960s, and by the mid-1980s, the park that was once recognized as a neighborhood asset was better known for prostitution, drug use, and other illicit activity.

In 2009, dismayed with the deteriorated condition of the park, Leroy decided it was time to take the park back for the people. Leroy convened other neighborhood residents and friends of the park to found Hunting Park United, a park stewardship organization devoted to bringing the park back to its former glory. Every month, residents, local leaders, and representatives of various organizations meet at the Hunting Park Recreation Center to discuss problems and advancements as well as create initiatives for the community.

lfisher hunting park.mp4

Hunting Park United partnered with the Fairmount Park Conservancy, an organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of Philadelphia’s park system, to work towards implementing the Conservancy’s Hunting Park Master Plan that proposes $21 million of improvements to the park.

Leroy worked tirelessly as President of Hunting Park United to help raise $5 million in funds and resources from more than 30 different partner organizations and contributors in order to implement Phase I of the Master plan and is the local neighborhood liaison on Conservancy-led projects in the park. Thanks to the tireless work of Leroy, Councilwoman Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez, Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and countless others, the following improvements have been implemented as of 2016:

  • A state-of-the-art baseball field, with help from MLB player Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Two new playgrounds whose equipment was donated. The Fairmount Park Conservancy supported the cost of the safety surface and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation supplied the fencing.
  • Six new tennis courts built through a partnership with Billie Jean King, Philadelphia Freedoms and Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
  • Year-round youth tennis programming
  • A new football/soccer field developed through a partnership with Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team.
  • New lighting throughout the park
  • Over 200 new trees planted
  • A community garden and farmers’ market established through a partnership with The Food Trust.
  • And an orchard planted adjacent to the garden created through a partnership with the Philadelphia Orchard Project.
  • leroy hunting park playground
    Photo Credit: Sikora Wells Appel
  • leroy baseball dedication kids
    Photo Credit: Sikora Wells Appel
  • leroy farmers market
    Photo Credit: Sikora Wells Appel

These new facilities have made Hunting Park once again an asset and activity center for the residents of the surrounding Hunting Park neighborhood and restored its status as a true gem in Philadelphia’s park system.

In order to ensure that it never falls into its former neglected state again, Hunting Park United also provides active stewardship of the park, regularly scheduling community clean ups, facilitating community events in the park, and working with Parks & Recreation staff to ensure the park is always safe and inviting for all.

Currently working on securing resources for Phase II of the Master Plan, Fisher encourages anyone and everyone in the community to be involved in the park stewardship process.

"Come out and be involved, your voice matters. The direction of our community is led by us and we have a voice when we come together. This is our home, we care about our home, and we’re taking it back and doing great things.”