Philadelphia, October 30, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite, City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and The Trust for Public Land unveiled design plans for new green playgrounds at William Cramp School and Jose Manuel Collazo Park, two sites in the Fairhill neighborhood of North Philadelphia. The project plans are part of the City of Philadelphia’s Green2015 initiative, Mayor Nutter’s comprehensive plan to significantly increase outdoor recreational opportunities and green infrastructure in underserved neighborhoods throughout the city. Green2015 partners include Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PP&R), the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), the School District of Philadelphia, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Mural Arts Program.
“This is an exciting collaboration for the City of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “Working with our partners, we will be able to green places where our children play in neighborhoods that lack those amenities right now. Making Philadelphia the greenest city in America involves infrastructure changes and creating healthy, sustainable spaces. However, it is also about educating our children about the environment so that they are prepared to care for it in the future. I am confident these improved playgrounds will serve this community well.”
Plans for the William Cramp Elementary School will convert the 0.6-acre asphalt schoolyard into a new green playground with recreational and outdoor educational elements to serve 700 students from kindergarten through sixth grade. In September 2013, TPL led a participatory design process with more than 40 fourth and fifth grade students providing input about items they wanted featured in their new playground. The final design includes an outdoor classroom, a rain garden, a running track, a turf field, new play equipment and a performance space with outdoor musical instruments. Groundbreaking at the site is expected in February 2015 with a grand opening celebration to follow in the summer of 2015.
At Jose Manuel Collazo Park, a one-acre park one block away from the school, intense community use during the past 40 years has caused considerable wear and tear on park facilities, rendering some areas of the park unusable. Through a community design process led by TPL and PP&R staff, neighbors and park users envisioned new and improved play and recreation spaces for the site, including new basketball courts, a refurbished handball area, a new playground and a water sprayground for use by children during hot summer days. The community also incorporated a shaded gathering area in the design. The park will feature stormwater management best practices including a rain garden and water storage areas under the basketball courts to absorb water, helping to advance PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters initative. Landscaped planting beds and trees will provide additional shade and a much-needed touch of natural space in the neighborhood. Construction at Collazo Park is expected to begin in summer 2015, after completion of the William Cramp School playground.
“Safe, eco-friendly play areas invite children to explore the outdoors,” said Dr. William Hite, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent. “We are excited about this project and look forward to a greater community.”
“This is a wonderful private, public collaboration that creates sustainable green spaces for families,” said Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez, who represents the 7th District.
This plan unveiling is another step forward for schoolyards and recreation centers in the City’s Green2015 program, which celebrated a major milestone this past summer with the opening of the newly redesigned William Dick Elementary School playground. When fully implemented, the pilot project will green 10 school playgrounds and city recreation centers throughout the city at a total cost of about $10 million, half of which is being funded by a combination of state, city, and school district sources. The Trust for Public Land is leading the effort to raise private contributions to fund the remaining costs. Lead private funders include the William Penn Foundation, The Otto Haas Charitable Trust, the National Recreation Foundation, Vert Charitable Trust, and other local supporters. TPL, a nonprofit organization, will also establish a stewardship fund to assist with maintenance and programming for each site.
“When we launched the Green2015 action plan, our goal was to chart a course for action that would make our city more equitable, livable and competitive. We again stand in partnership to make good on that goal through the greening and connecting of our community assets, parks and recreation centers and schoolyards,” said Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor, Environmental & Community Resources/Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “With this partnership and the community, these sites will provide children and families with places for recreation and increase the attractiveness of our neighborhoods—all by taking affordable steps to transform land into publicly accessible green space. Green2015 is a smart choice, makes sense for Philadelphia, and we look forward to engaging with many partners to continue advancing this work.”
Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug said, “While our goal of installing rain gardens and other green amenities is to manage rain water, the added benefits it gives to our neighbors, our communities and our rivers are noteworthy. It gives the staff of Philadelphia Water tremendous pride when we can partner with others to help contribute towards projects that create greener, healthier places for children and adults while also doing our Number 1 job of making sure our water is clean and safe.”
Through its Parks for People–Philadelphia program, The Trust for Public Land is playing a key role in implementing the Green2015 Initiative to transform public 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.
“Thanks to the commitment of our city leaders and other supporters, the community’s designs presented here today will soon become a reality,” said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land’s Pennsylvania state director. “By playing a lead role in creating these new public spaces, students and families are not only ensuring that the improvements meet their specific needs – like more handball courts and outdoor performance spaces – but residents are also standing up to express their commitment to supporting and maintaining their park into the future.”
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.
About Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of her people through intentional and sustained stewardship of public land and waterways as well as through safe, stimulating recreation, environmental and cultural centers. PPR helps Philadelphia’s children and other residents grow by connecting them to the natural world, to each other, and to fun, physical and social opportunities. For more information, find Philadelphia Parks & Recreation online at www.phila.gov/parksandrecreation.
About Philadelphia Water Department
Whether providing safe water for residents to drink, supplying water for industries to manufacture goods, or protecting the region’s water resources, the Philadelphia Water Department has been serving the Greater Philadelphia region with reliable, quality services throughout its nearly 200-year history. Through the innovative Green City, Clean Waters plan, PWD is providing a clear pathway to a sustainable future by protecting and enhancing our waterways through the use of green infrastructure.
Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land, 917-797-3859, email@example.com
Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, 267-438-7154, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chanice N. Savage, School District of Philadelphia, 215-400-5227, email@example.com