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City of Lancaster to Unveil Culliton Park

November 13, 2020 | Department of Public Works Public Art Program
By: Yarlyn Rosario

At a time when we are all craving ways to safely be together, public spaces are more critical than ever. Formerly known as Farnum Park, the newly renovated Culliton Park will open on Nov. 20 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. The public is invited to visit the park after the ribbon cutting in adherence to state mandated COVID-19 procedures.

Culliton Park has been a sanctuary for community-based artwork. By putting art at the center of a community it can enhance the quality of our lives by expressing hard-to-articulate feelings and inspiring us to tap into the depths of our imagination, envisioning a brighter, more exciting future.

Local Artist Salina Almanzar continues her community-based artwork with a new mural on the walls of the park’s pavilion near the corner of Farnum and Water Street.

“[Be Like Water] honors what was lost through colonization of indigenous lands and the resilience of historically marginalized peoples as they behave like water: adapting and transforming their environments,” said Almanzar.

The new artwork, “Be Like Water,” also calls attention to Water Street’s namesake, a stream buried underground that connects to the Conestoga. It also harkens to Lancaster City’s industrialization.

Despite the challenges of coming together during a pandemic, the neighboring community still contributed to the new work. To draw the hands pictured above, Almanzar referenced the hands of Sandy Drakeford and Marie King-Linares, elders in the community. Also, neighbors were asked to contribute their own drawings of native plants and flowers. Almanzar plans on transferring those drawings directly into the mural.

In early 2018, neighbors of the park selected artist Matthew Geller to collaborate with landscape architects RGS on renovating this critical public space in Southwest Lancaster. Geller made multiple visits to connect with neighbors of the park, and collaborated with local manufacturers, Shrock Fabrication, to create a one-of-a-kind piece in the park: an imaginative fence around the playground area. The fence encircles the park in a “wavy” form. The sections are designed to undulate back and forth in a way that suggests movement. The pickets are made of an eclectic mix of recycled/reused parts and pieces from other fences and scraps from Shrock’s shop. There are integrated benches alongside the fence for additional seating.

Other contributions by Geller include pieces that work to bring people together. A circular bench near the sledding hill gives park visitors space to sit alone or with others while still maintaining safe distances, which is is particularly useful during a pandemic. Extra-long communal picnic tables allow for multiple families or individuals to sit together. Dominos is a popular past-time in the area, so Geller designed domino tables that can also be used to play chess or checkers.

The City worked closely with the SoWe neighborhood group to gather input, share designs, and get feedback, but also found creative ways to reach neighbors of the park that may not be connected with the SoWe group or were unable attend meetings. Almanzar was commissioned to create small, temporary public art projects that could start conversations about the upcoming park renovation. These projects and conversations, called “Art Pop,” started in the spring of 2018 and continue today.

When working with neighbors of the park, Almanzar gained insight about the community there, their feelings about the existing park space and visions for the future. She then relayed her insights to Geller and SoWe members to inform the park design and help the SoWe group gain a broader reach. Art Pop took place in Culliton Park over the course of two summers and culminated in a mural on the wall of

Water Street Mission facing the park. Almanzar and Lancaster Public Art received national recognition from Americans for the Arts in 2019 as one of the 50 best projects of the year.

The park renovations also include basketball courts, a splash pool, and new playgrounds for toddlers and older children. Additionally, the park has been outfitted with stormwater management features, including a rain garden and reconstructed ballfield with improved draining.

Planning for the renovation of Culliton Park began in the fall of 2017. This project was one of the first commissions enacting a major focus area, Integrating Art into Design, from the Ten-Year Plan for Public Art. Construction lasted approximately nine months with a total cost of 3.4 million dollars.

This project was made possible by generous financial assistance from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Honorable Tom Wolf, Governor; the Gunterberg Charitable Foundation; a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation; a Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority; the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement to PA DEP and administered locally by Lancaster Clean Water Partners, Lancaster County Conservation District, and Lancaster County Community Foundation; and the design was assisted by the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Program with the funding partners of the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, Chesapeake Bay Program, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the
views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

The Lancaster County Community Foundation also helped to fund the public artwork by artists Salina Almanzar and Matthew Geller. The total costs for public art in the park totaled about 1% of the total budget.