"They called me the day after the article appeared. They didn't want to start out in the neighborhood on a bad note. They were unaware of our group and our efforts."
He credited City Councilman Mark Squilla for assisting negotiations between the buyer and the Department of Public Property.
Now, Manton Street Park is set to receive a $20,000 "Growing the Neighborhood" grant for design and installation of a new pocket park.
Manton Street Park is one of seven parks in the city to receive the grants, but its grant is the largest. Sedgley Woods received $10,000 to install new fencing and a new picnic table, and Hawthorne Park in Bella Vista received a $3,000 grant.
The official announcement is to be made Saturday by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.
Saturday is also Love your Park Day in Philadelphia, with about 58 cleanup projects scheduled.
Berman said his organization last month got an award for best reuse of vacant lots from a group called Take Back Vacant Land.
He said things have come a long way since the neglected park was "a dark, scary place," with drug dealers hanging out.
"On any given weeknight, or weekend day, I may go out to my garden plot and start cleaning or weeding and another family will come along and start working on their garden," Berman said.
He said neighbors working together to clean the park have created a sense of community.
"The park is just a side benefit. Now we have a network where we can discuss other issues in the neighborhood, whether it's what to do about litter or the corner, or any other problem."