The Garden Club of America awarded Concourse Lake project the Marion Thompson Fuller Brown Conservation Award


Fairmount Park Conservancy
2011 Centennial Celebration
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Presentation of the Centennial Award for Civic Leadership
Gene Dilks and the Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America

Centennial Celebration gala fundraiser was a resounding success. Over 400 guests gathered at The Horticulture Center in the Centennial District of West Fairmount Park for an evening honoring the champions of Fairmount Park. For civic leadership, the Fairmount Park Conservancy honored Gene Dilks, the Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America and the Concourse Lake Committee.

Fairmount Park Conservancy Award Invitation

John Gattuso, Leslie Miller, Gene Dilks, and Kathryn Ott Lovell

Acceptance Speech of Gene Dilks for the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Award for Civic Leadership. May 17, 2011

First, I am most certainly not standing here alone. This effort would not be being honored today were it not for the extraordinary personal contributions of a network of women from the Philadelphia area who have been sharing their professional expertise, their commitment to horticulture and the environment, and their fund raising experience, in order to advance Mayor Nutter’s vision of our becoming the greenest city in America and to provide momentum for the Centennial District Master Plan at a time when the economy makes such progress elusive and hard fought. It has been my great pleasure to get to know these women and, although a few of the many participants are mentioned in your booklet, I would particularly like to draw your attention to the daily and on-going dedication of Melissa Ciacci, Alice Doering, and Jorie Nailor to the design and implementation of Phase I of this project and to the fund raising counsel of Nancy Newman and Diana Braddom. I would also like to express our collective gratitude to Mrs. Samuel Hamilton, honorary chairman of our Love the Lake effort, Mrs. J. Maxwell Moran, and the Asplundh Family Foundation whose critical lead gifts made acting on our vision possible. I would like to acknowledge the pivotal role of the Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America, chaired by Laurie Marshall, whose board has assumed responsibility for all needed surveys, permits and contracts related to the demolition and hardscaping of Phase I and for the tracking of income and expenses related to this project.

We accepted this project proposal from Fairmount Park, not because of its connection to the extraordinary accomplishment of our 1876 Centennial, but primarily because of its potential to revitalize an underused and shamefully neglected section of the Park and reconnect it to the Parkside community, its residents, businesses, and cultural institutions. This neighborhood has a long-standing relationship with Concourse Lake, filled with fond memories of graduation photos after commencement, picnics after church, fishing with Dad, sailing motorized toy boats, and even grandparents swimming here between the first and second World Wars. We recognize that the lake holds a nostalgic place in the heart and history of its community and trust that our gift will help that community relationship to grow and flourish in new ways for local families and visitors of all ages, for schools, and for neighboring businesses and cultural institutions.  It has been especially gratifying to have the support and encouragement of Curtis Jones, long-time champion of the value of the Concourse Lake area, the Business Association of West Parkside, the PACTS program of the Franklin Institute, the Mastery Charter School at 53d and Media, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, the Please Touch Museum, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and many others.

The cooperation of these partners and the collaborative nature of the project itself with Fairmount Park are an expression of what is best in Philadelphia’s character. We celebrate tonight all community organizations and individuals, so many of whom are here tonight, who are willing to step forward to help the City do what it can not do alone and who are committed to working together respectfully in stewarding our “Green Country Town.” I am honored to be a part of that stewardship tradition.


Bowman's Hill Wildlife Preserve

Concourse Lake receives the 2012 Nomination of Excellence

“Love the Lake”