A bench in the garden of Lovett Library.

Mt. Airy USA is partnering with the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Community Design Collaborative to develop a design plan for the Lovett Library’s garden.

On Sept. 15, there will be a meeting of the Collaborative, a partnership between Mt. Airy USA and the Community Design Collaborative, at Lovett Library, 6945 Germantown Ave., in the Meeting Room (off of Sedgwick St.).

Imagine a beautiful neighborhood park, bustling with activity right on Mt. Airy’s Main Street, Germantown Avenue. The Collaborative, in partnership with the Free Library, recently began work to develop a plan for improvements to the green space adjacent to the Lovett Memorial Library.

The Collaborative is a volunteer-based community design center that provides pro-bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations. They have convened a volunteer team of design professionals for the project, including two landscape architects/designers, one urban planner and a cost estimator. The final product will include a variety of conceptual planning documents of the existing and proposed site design, in addition to rough cost estimates and phased implementation and maintenance plans. The completed plan will guide Mt. Airy USA in its efforts to improve the site and to secure the community support and funding necessary to move forward.

“The Free Library is excited to partner with Mt. Airy USA in its efforts to begin to develop and revitalize the Lovett Library’s outdoor public space. We are very grateful that this project has the backing of The Community Design Collaborative to help facilitate a design vision for its use. The efforts of Mt. Airy USA to improve the Germantown Avenue corridor appear to be reaching a critical mass that will, I believe, create the foundation for sustained community enrichment and growth,” said Joe Benford, extensions division chief, Free Library of Philadelphia.

In its current state, this large green space contains only enough seating for two people and is relatively inactive, attracting very few visitors.
“Through thoughtful planning and development we believe there is tremendous opportunity to activate the site and transform it into a community-serving asset. This is another key step in the revitalization of America’s most historic commercial corridor,” said Anuj Gupta, executive director of Mt. Airy USA.

The project will enrich the current site to generate increased foot traffic and further connect the commercial nodes of the Avenue currently separated by institutional and residential uses. It will also complement the streetscape improvement project the organization recently completed on Germantown Avenue, which includes new pedestrian-scale light-poles, new sidewalks and curbs, trees and benches.

This design and planning project comes on the heels of a summer film series “Moonlight Movies in Mt. Airy,” which has been held at the Lovett Library Garden throughout the summer (depending on the weather).
“We hope the Moonlight Movies series has started to get people thinking about this space and the possibilities it holds. If we can capture that momentum to get people engaged in the design and planning, we’ll have a really dynamic process and a final product reflective of the community’s vision,” said Elizabeth Moselle, director of Commercial Corridor Revitalization at Mt. Airy USA.

The design team is working with a community task force consisting of 17 neighborhood stakeholders, including members of the East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors civic groups, business owners, institutional representatives and near neighbors. The group, whose first meeting was held on August 23, is helping to guide and shape the plan. Additional neighborhood constituents will have an opportunity to participate in the planning process during two community-wide meetings, the first of which will be held on Thursday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lovett Library’s meeting room (enter on Sedgwick Street).