CITY AND STATE OFFICIALS, TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND ANNOUNCE COMPLETION OF UPGRADED, GREEN REC CENTER

Philadelphia, December 23, 2014  Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, and The Trust for Public Land announced the completion of the newly upgraded playground at Hank Gathers Recreation Center (HGRC) in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

“This is an exciting collaboration for the City of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “Working with our partners, we have been able to green places where our children play in neighborhoods that lack those amenities. 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 this improved playground will serve well the Strawberry Mansion community.”

The project is the second of ten planned sites to be completed through a public/private partnership among the City of Philadelphia, The Trust for Public Land, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and a variety of other partners.  The initiative, known as Green2015, is part of Mayor Nutter’s comprehensive plan to increase significantly outdoor recreational opportunities and green infrastructure in underserved neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

Seventy-five neighborhood residents worked with the Department of Parks and Recreation and The Trust for Public Land through a series of design workshops to select features that would improve the recreation center grounds.  New amenities include new playground equipment with safety surfacing, a water spray park, upgraded seating areas, a picnic grove under a canopy of trees, a walking path, and new fencing. A community event celebrating the playground will be organized for early Spring 2015.

“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, the Hank Gathers Recreation Center is a place for high-quality indoor and outdoor recreation for children and families.  Green2015 is a smart choice, makes sense for Philadelphia, and we look forward to engaging with many partners to continue advancing this work.”

When fully implemented, the Green2015 initiative will green 10 school playgrounds and city recreation centers at a total cost of approximately $10 million, about half of which will be funded by a combination of state, city, and school district sources. Other Green2015 partners include the Philadelphia Water Department, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Mural Arts Program.

“By creating a new outdoor play space at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center and a green schoolyard across the street at William Dick Elementary School, this innovative partnership is delivering much-needed opportunities for outdoor recreation to the Strawberry Mansion community,” said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land’s Pennsylvania state director.  “We now look forward to replicating this success at other schoolyards and recreation centers in additional neighborhoods that need more green play spaces.”

The William Penn Foundation, one of the original supporters of the planning and public engagement effort to draft the Green2015 action plan, also provided significant resources for the pilot project. Additional private support for the Hank Gathers Recreation Center project was provided by MetLife Foundation, The Otto Haas Charitable Trust at the direction of John and Janet Haas, the National Recreation Foundation, H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, the McLean Contributionship and NBCUniversal Foundation.

“Parks and playgrounds are vital components of livable communities,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with The Trust for Public Land, City of Philadelphia and the many participating funders and organizations on this project which, with its green elements, will enhance the health and well-being of community residents for years to come.”

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.

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CONTACT: 

Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land, 917-797-3859, anthony.cucchi@tpl.org

Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, 267-438-7154, patrick.morgan@phila.gov

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