Fishtown Library and Rec Center Could Receive City Funding in Near Future
Just more than a block east of George and Garden Logan’s home sits the Fishtown Recreation Center, Fistown Library and the Lederer Pool. Each has served the Fishtown community for at least half a century. The Logans, however, believe that all three sites have seen better days.
“One of the great things about living in Fishtown is that all the things are right here for the kids,” said Garden Logan, 45. “But now everything has kind of fallen into disrepair.”
Now, however, the city has proposed all three to be part of its Rebuild project — a citywide initiative that will invest $500 million in selected libraries, recreation centers, pools and similar facilities throughout Philadelphia.
David Gould, Rebuild’s director of community engagement and communications, said that of more than 400 possible sites, 100-150 will be picked in waves during the next seven years. He said the first wave of facilities should be picked in the next couple of months.
He added that the funding for Rebuild stems from the following sources: $300 million in bonds paid back through the city’s sugary beverage tax, $100 million from the William Penn Foundation, $40-50 million from the city’s capital program and the remainder through fundraising.
Ultimately, a major point of Rebuild is to involve local communities in projects as much as possible, Gould said.
“Whether that means the physical appearances or programs associated with these sites… we want to make sure everyone has a say,” he said.
The decay of both the Lederer Pool and the Fishtown Library can be traced back to August 2015, when the pool leaked into the library and broke its HVAC system and elevator, according to officials.
The HVAC has been repaired. The elevator has not. Sandy Horrocks, a spokeswoman for the Free Library of Philadelphia, said the reason why is simple.
“It’s $140,000 we don’t have,” she said.
Horrocks added that more than 50 branches throughout the city are operating on about a $1 million budget, making any significant repairs to any library difficult.
Adjacent to the library, the Lederer Pool, also known as the Swimmo, was repaired in 2016, but community members said its age is starting to show.
Jennifer Crandall, a spokeswoman for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said permanent repairs to the pool would require moving the pool further underground and placing buffers to prevent such a leak from occurring again.
Across the street from the pool and library sits the Fishtown Recreation Center. Unlike the Lederer Pool and the library, it’s been unharmed the past few years — but according to Mary Ann Tempone, the building and playground could be improved.
Tempone, 38, president of the Fishtown Recreation Advisory Council, said $250,000 has been acquired through a department of conservation and natural resources grant from the state, which will help improve the outside playground.
She said, however, that both the library and (especially) the recreation center itself could use more funding.
“It’s just really dated and old and worn,” she said of the recreation center. “Things are falling down, walls are stained, paint is chipped, windows are broken, so it really just kind of needs a makeover,” Tempone said.
The overall need for the recreation center’s makeover has caused Garden Logan to search other playgrounds throughout the city for her three kids, George, 14, William, 9, and Sofia, 4. She hopes the city picks the nearby sites, returning some long-lost luster to them.
“It would be wonderful for us to have that back,” she said in her home on the 1300 block of E. Montgomery Ave. “It’s just a place you don’t feel at home and comfortable.”
Officials said it’s unclear how much the three projects would cost. According to Gould, very rough preliminary data indicates that the average project cost would be $1.9 million — but could range anywhere from $50,000 to $13 million.
Regardless, Tempone said improvements are needed because of community demand.
“The rec center and the library are beloved by lifelong Fishtowners,” she said. “There’s also a lot of new people in the neighborhood and a lot of new kids, so we need our rec and our library to be cleaned up, fixed up, modernized and up-to-date.” •