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Manton Street Park Gets Second Place in Vacant Lot Awards

The Take Back Vacant Land campaign, spearheaded by City Council members Mark Squilla and Maria Quiñones Sanchez, sponsored a Best and Worst contest to raise awareness of Philadelphia's vacant lot issue. (Naturally, they couldn't have anticipated Lotgate, which raised awareness as far as Pakistan.)

Take Back has a number of community group members representing varied neighborhoods, from Kensington, Norris Square and Northern Liberties to Port Richmond, Queen Village and Germantown, among others. These are neighborhoods that know the problems well.

The No. 1 Best Lot winner was Norris Square's Pearl Brown, who's been tending to her three-lot garden since the 1970s. The second-place winner was the Manton Street Park and Community Garden, which was a trash-strewn lot before a group of neighbors guerrilla gardened it. But despite the fact that it was considered a pocket park, in the planning patois of the day, the city didn't recognize it as such, and sold it as a lot to a developer. A Save Our Park campaign gathered steam and Councilman Squilla got involved as mediator. Fortunately, as with Lotgate 2.0, a deal was struck to allow the developer to build around it and retain the lot as a park. Now everyone's happy.

· Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land