PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This summer you will be able to provide input that could help shape the future of the Ben Franklin Parkway. But in the meantime, you can enjoy a seasonal attraction on Eakins Oval.
The parking lot in the middle of Eakins Oval has now been transformed into Oval XP.
One of the first things you notice is a 108-foot Ferris wheel, which boasts views of the Parkway and City Hall.
"It's going to be an amazing free family-friendly fun experience for Philadelphians to enjoy this summer," said Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, said during a Tuesday afternoon sneak peek event.
There will be art, wellness programs, free special programming, a beer garden and more open from Thursday until mid-August.
"Enjoy yourself, have fun, get all together with fellow Philadelphians and visitors from around the region and just have a good time this summer," said Mayor Jim Kenney.
A summer stage features a long lineup of entertainment.
"We have a huge lineup of entertainment, a massive stage here with free entertainment all summer long, so lots of local musicians, people that you've heard of, new people that you haven't heard of, every genre of music you can imagine," said Ott Lovell.
Ott Lovell said that this experience is within a ten-minute walk for more than 79,000 Philadelphians, and many people also come from farther away.
The Oval returns after a COVID hiatus.
"To have it dark for the couple years during COVID was really hard for us, and we had so many people say 'when is the Oval coming back' and it's back, it's here," exclaimed Ott Lovell.
This comes as an effort to "Reimagine the Benjamin Franklin Parkway" is underway.
"I think it's sort of the heart of the city," stated Perry Zanki of Roxborough, who teaches at a nearby school. "I think there should be a coordinated effort to have people voice their opinions of how they want it designed," Zanki added.
We're at the beginning of a four-step process that will unfold over the next year and a half.
"The process, in partnership with the Parkway Council, will last 18 months and will work with the community on creating a world-class public realm plan for people-centric, permanent changes to dramatically improve the appeal, use, traffic safety, functionality, and beauty of the Parkway," the city says.
Phase 1: Project Launch + Discovery
- Connect with the community
- Refine goals + vision with community
- Review existing conditions
Phase 2: Create Plan Strategies
- Co-create plan strategies
- Begin transportation plan
- Begin infrastructure plan
- Begin economic plan
Phase 3: Develop Preferred Plan
- Develop a preferred plan
- Develop transportation plan
- Develop infrastructure plan
- Develop economic plan
Phase 4: Finalize Preferred Plan
- Finalize plans
An online survey, which is now open, will collect information about how the public uses the Parkway, and what improvements they would like to see along the mile of park and public roads that connect Logan Square with the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
"The Parkway is a long distance with a lot of big buildings but no place to get anything to drink or to stop and have some snacks," said Suzanne Dobkin of Center City.
"I would suggest for the summer, a return of that recreational closing of the outer lanes," offered Troy Mandy of Mount Airy, who walks through the Parkway each day.
More signage, more events, public restrooms, transportation hubs...what would you like to see change?
"Maybe making this walkway free from the traffic," mentioned Antonio Plati of South Philadelphia.
"Most importantly is getting rid of the cars that are parked on the parkway. It's such a hazard when you're driving," said Priscilla Rubin of Logan Square, who also suggested longer and more synchronized pedestrian crossing signals.
"I think for people traveling from outside of Philadelphia, it might be best to consider transportation hubs, or some way of allowing them to get there more easily," said Barbara Zulick of Center City.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can take part in an interactive design and planning event led by the Design Workshop, which is the design firm.
On June 21 at the Barnes, the public is invited to attend a lecture and panel discussion with design and planning experts about the Parkway. You can register for the free event by clicking here.