The Doctor Is Out Of Park Panel

Posted: August 24, 1990

Former 76ers superstar Julius Erving is resigning from the Fairmount Park

Commission after a three-year tenure marked by frequent absences from the board's monthly meetings.

Although no official announcement has been made, the Board of Judges of Common Pleas Court has been asked to activate its nominating committee to find a replacement.

Common Pleas Judge Bernard J. Goodheart, who chairs the nominating panel, said he would call a meeting after Labor Day. "We'll do our best to replace him," he said.

Goodheart, however, said it was unlikely a nomination would be made before the Nov. 15 meeting of the full board.

Neither Dr. J nor commission president and former Sixers owner F. Eugene Dixon Jr. was available for comment.

Erving, who retired from professional basketball in 1987, was apparently unable to devote much time to the commission, which oversees 8,700 acres of city parkland.

He is a part owner of Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and a Buffalo TV station, has his own investment holding firm, the Erving Group, and makes frequent personal appearances for sports merchandisers and charitable agencies.

He also served briefly in 1987 on a governor's task force on business but resigned after missing five meetings.

Erving attended his first park commission meeting in December 1987, several months after his appointment in June 1987, and was able to attend only a handful of meetings since then, according to those who regularly attend

commission meetings.

"I don't know the exact number, but he didn't attend very many (meetings,)" said Frank G. Binswanger Sr., a senior member of the board.

In an interview in 1988, Erving said he felt stung by publicity over his streak of absences because he had informed commission officials at the beginning of his limited availability.

"I was upset with the Fairmount Park Commission, about being portrayed as negligent," he said. "I was a little annoyed that they didn't defend me. I guess that's politics."

Erving did help with the drive to restore Swann Fountain at Logan Square, however, and appeared in a fund-raising video for the recently completed project.

Commission member Ernesta Ballard, who was also instrumental in the fountain project, said Erving's contributions were "great."

"I just wish he could have seen his way to put the time in," Ballard said.

Goodheart said the nominating committee would be looking for "somebody who we feel will help the park in many ways, and one is to help us find money. That's always a consideration."

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