Preliminary Design Concept for Rec Center Renovation Revealed
The preliminary design concept for the much anticipated outdoor renovations of the Fishtown Recreation Center has finally been revealed. On Tuesday, April 11, members and friends of the community gathered in the auditorium of Adaire Elementary to catch their first glimpse.
Mary Anne Tempone, President of the Fishtown Recreation Advisory Council, kicked off the presentation, which included statements from Philadelphia’s Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis; Council President Darrell Clarke; Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell; as well as a detailed description of the proposed design concept by Danielle Denk of The Trust for Public Land.
The makeover process began in the spring of 2016 with community design sessions and surveys intended to drive and refine the direction for renovations of the recreation center’s outdated and hazardous playground landscape. Using the input from the community and working in close conjunction with the Friends of Fishtown Rec, The Trust for Public Land worked diligently to provide the improvements and equipment both desired, and needed, by the 9,000 residents the recreation center serves.
“It’s important to note some of the processes you all went through, some of the collaborations with city council, with the state, with Parks and Recreation,” stated Mike DiBerardinis. “These connections are important and they get the big projects moving, but without the input from the neighborhood, the input from the current and potential users and the folks who will program these new resources, the process and collaboration with the government and institutions wouldn’t have the life and the knowledge and the wisdom that it gets from a strong community connection.”
DiBerardinis went on to thank City Council President Darrell Clarke for providing his political support, his willingness to consider the project’s unconventional model of funding, and the capital money needed to get the project done.
Councilman Clarke applauded the community for their patience and participation in the process, for being engaged in the process with their kids and for working in cooperation with the elected officials.
“At the end of the day, we can come up with the resources, but without your community input, we wouldn’t know what really needs to happen,” Clarke said.
If all goes as planned, construction will begin summer of 2018. Improvements to the Fishtown Recreation Center will include new features such as a jungle gym for kids aged five to 12, a designated baby play area, double basket swings, a full basketball court, a jogging loop, a community common and a rain garden. Existing structures such as the roller hockey rink and trapezoid will be renovated and updated to serve multiple purposes and activities.
“It’s overdue perhaps, but it’s wonderful to see these amazing assets being revitalized here in this really thriving neighborhood,” said Kathryn Ott Lovell, Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “These projects should not be the exception; they should be the norm.”
The presentation concluded with a Q&A session as well as a community feedback board and a vote on the project’s color palette. Though the majority in attendance appeared satisfied and excited for the future of the Fishtown Recreation Center, concerns were voiced over fencing, a desire for increased green space and a preference for the use of more natural resources for the building equipment and play features.
Danielle Denk, program director at TPL, assured residents that the plans are not yet finalized, and the project planning team is open and excited to the continued feedback from community members.
“We are getting better and better at making connections with the communities we serve with these facilities, and we really want to continue the connection between the government departments, the Friends groups and the residents and neighbors themselves,” Denk said.