By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An advocate for Philadelphia’s parks is supporting a planned conservation center in Fairmount Park — as long as free public access is guaranteed.

The law requires city parkland can’t be transferred for a restricted use without providing substitute land for open space.

In the case of a bird and wildlife sanctuary planned near 33rd and Oxford Streets, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance is okay with a variance — as long as the conservation center has enough free public hours, according to Parks Alliance executive director Lauren Bornfriend.

“Our concern is that the people of Philadelphia don’t lose more parkland, particularly the people who live along 33rd Street and in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

Calvin Williams, a resident of Strawberry Mansion, supports the conservation center plan as long as there’s access for the neighborhood.

“I remember the serenity — I remember those things,” he said today.   “And as a senior now, if I could hobble on up there, it would be nice to sit out and just look over the entire area.”

The Alliance has been talking with the Audubon Society about security and public access.  The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission is accepting public coment on the plan, through April 30th.

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