The sunny season is finally here with spring now in full swing, and Philadelphians are itching to find ways to get outdoors and stay active safely. Luckily, one beloved sport activity is back at a local park, and youngsters have already been seizing the opportunity to get out, get moving and play some ball.
Typically every spring season the Fairmount Sports Association (FSA) organizes youth baseball, softball and t-ball programs at Von Colln Athletic Field. The outdoor recreational programs allowed hundreds of children from Fairmount and its surrounding neighborhoods to play organized sports outdoors. Last year, that tune changed in the wake of COVID-19, but once again a shift has been made.
Recently, Bock Development Group – a real estate development company headquartered in Philadelphia – announced a new public-private partnership with the City of Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation to renovate Fairmount Park’s Von Colln Athletic Fields, in collaboration with the board members of Fairmount Sports Association (FSA). According to the release, together, the organizations will restore two fields by removing the existing in-fields and replacing them with 100 tons of new, premium Diamond-tex infield mix. They will also create a temporary t-ball field to ensure children of all ages can return to outdoor sports after a year-long hiatus.
“As a new neighbor, I wanted to get involved in work that helps our community. I believe that through public-private partnerships – like the partnership we are forging with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Fairmount Sports Association – we can truly inspire positive change and help our city recover from the impact of this past year,” said Tom Bock, president & CEO of Bock Development Group in a statement. “As a father, coach, and developer, I understand how important our public spaces are to the health and well-being of the children in our community. This is why I am so proud to work with the City of Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation to reinvigorate Von Colln Athletic Field and bring our neighborhood’s public park back to life.”
To make the return back to some routine for the outdoor programs, Bock Development Group enlisted NICO Landscaping to complete the field renovations in time for FSA’s opening day, which was last weekend. At opening day last Saturday, President of Fairmount Sports Association John LaCorte asked the crowd to take a moment of silence, remembering FSA’s board members who passed this last year. The moment of silence was then followed by a flag raising to the tune of the national anthem at the center of the field, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Bock then threw out the first pitch to commemorate the occasion.
“On behalf of the Board Members of Fairmount Sports Association, we want to sincerely extend our thanks to the Bock Development Group and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staff for their continued support and ongoing collaboration to ensure that our children have a restored and safe space to return to play in time for our upcoming Spring baseball, softball and t-ball season.” said LaCorte in the release. “We would also like to acknowledge their engagement efforts for turning our vision of a temporary t-ball field into a reality. The families and t-ball-age children will benefit greatly from this temporary play space until the original field is fully restored. The Board of Directors look forward to a continued partnership to enhance the quality of life for the children of the FSA community from all over the city.”
The return of sports comes with a slew of COVID-19 regulations to ensure the safety of all players and coaches involved, but this first step is one that can bring a sense of normalcy back to the community.
For more information on the fields’ progress, follow 2100 Hamilton on Instagram or Facebook. You can also read about Fairmount Sports Association’s COVID-19 protocols detailed in the 2021 Return to Play Initiative at fairmountsports.org