Philadelphia, July 8, 2014 – Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Parks & Recreation Commissioner, and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) celebrated the City’s efforts to green schoolyards and recreation centers during a ground-breaking ceremony at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center.
This greening project and the recently completed green schoolyard at William Dick Elementary School across the street are part of Philadelphia’s Greenworks Philadelphia plan, specifically the Green2015 initiative: Mayor Nutter’s comprehensive plan to significantly increase outdoor recreational opportunities and green infrastructure in underserved neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
“This is another great day for the City of Philadelphia,” said Deputy Mayor DiBerardinis. “Working with our many partners, we are continuing to add green spaces in the neighborhoods that need them the most. Under Mayor Nutter’s leadership, we have worked diligently to accomplish one of his many goals for Philadelphia: making it America’s greenest city, which involves infrastructure changes, natural resource management, and the creation of healthy, sustainable spaces. I am confident these improved school yards and recreation centers will do all of the above and much more for our communities.”
At Hank Gathers Recreation Center, 75 neighborhood residents working with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and The Trust for Public Land participated in a series of design workshops to select features that will improve the recreation center. The resulting design will enhance an existing junior baseball diamond and relatively new basketball courts. It will also add a new water spray park, upgraded seating areas, a picnic grove under an existing canopy of trees and a native grass bank. The community-driven design builds upon the recreation center’s existing programming and enhances active and passive recreation opportunities for users of all ages.Sean’s Landscaping was recently awarded the $380,358 construction contract.
“During our community design sessions, many people noted that the Hank Gathers Recreation Center has first-class basketball facilities,” said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land’s Pennsylvania State Director. “With the community’s input, the outdoor areas around courts will soon be redeveloped to fulfill the neighborhood’s goals, including an improved play area for children and shaded seating areas and other green features for everyone to enjoy.”
Both announcements are a major step forward for the city’s Green2015 pilot program for schoolyards and recreation centers, which was unveiled at William Dick Elementary School in May 2012. Green2015 partners include the Department of Parks and Recreation, Mural Arts Program, the Philadelphia Water Department and the School District of Philadelphia. When fully implemented, the pilot project will green 10 school playgrounds and city recreation centers at a total cost of $10 million, about half of which will be funded by a combination of state, City and School District sources. The Trust for Public Land is leading the effort to raise the remaining funds from private sources. TPL will also establish a stewardship fund to assist local organizations with maintenance and programming for each site.
The project leverages Philadelphia Water Department funds directed toward meeting federally-mandated stormwater management regulations, committed state funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Conversation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and private philanthropy raised by The Trust for Public Land from many, including the William Penn Foundation, MetLife Foundation, National Recreation Foundation, Mr. H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, NBCUniversal Foundation, Phillies Charities, the McLean Contributionship, and a $1 million challenge gift from The Otto Haas Charitable Trust at the direction of John and Janet Haas.
The William Penn Foundation was one of the original supporters of the planning and public engagement effort to draft the Green2015 action plan and is now providing significant resources for the pilot project.
Through its Parks for People–Philadelphia program, The Trust for Public Land is playing a key role in implementing the Green2015 Initiative to transform 500 acres of land into neighborhood green spaces by 2015. The Trust for Public Land works with the City of Philadelphia to identify existing schoolyards and recreation centers as prime opportunities for conversion into greened play spaces and recreation areas.
Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land, 917-797-3859, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, 267-438-7154, email@example.com