The young players were joined Thursday evening in Olney by dozens of community members and city officials for a dedication ceremony. It was one of three such events that Mayor Jim Kenney attended quickly that day as he sought to draw attention to the progress of his over $ 400 million Rebuild public works program. dollars, which will finance the work using the proceeds of the city’s tax on sugary drinks.
As part of the Rebuild program, the city will demolish and rebuild the center, first built in 1957, with meeting rooms, classrooms, a kitchen and a computer room. The contractors will renovate the gymnasium, install a new cooling and heating system, upgrade the basketball and tennis courts, and install a new track, turf, playgrounds, trails and picnic areas. fuck.
Funded by a grant of up to $ 100 million from the William Penn Foundation and the controversial “soda tax” on sugary drinks approved in 2016, the launch of Rebuild was delayed until 2018 by legal challenges. The original budget of $ 500 million was then reduced to around $ 425 million when the levy generated less revenue than expected.
The program encountered other obstacles last year. In an interview with PlanPhilly, Kenney said the pandemic response and the city’s work-from-home mandate diverted the attention of city employees from issuing reconstruction construction bids and contracts to verification, while global supply chain issues have slowed the arrival of materials needed for some renovations.
Rebuild executive director Kira Strong said planning meetings between community members and designers needed to be moved online or to outside sites, which also hampered progress.
But she said design and construction work continued nonetheless, with nine sites completed, nine more under construction and 42 in the design and community engagement phase. 12 others have not yet started. The city council has approved 72 projects and $ 219 million has been spent or committed so far.
“We want the end result in every neighborhood to be the center that people want, not [just] the center that the city has given them, and it takes time. It takes energy, and you have to pay attention to the details, and that’s what we did, ”Kenney said. “I want people to understand that we’re still there and we’re still moving forward. “
Rebuild is also meeting its diversity goals, awarding 45% of contract dollars to minority-owned businesses and 23% to women-owned businesses, officials said. Forty-six percent of contractors’ hours of work on projects were done by women and people of color, they said.
Long term impact
Earlier in the week, Kenney and board member Jamie Gauthier cut the ribbon at the redeveloped Miles Mack playground in Mantua, which saw a $ 2.8 million update to its recreation center and amenities. land. On Thursday, Kenney attended Olney’s groundbreaking ceremony, a $ 2.8 million renovation at the Heitzman Leisure Center in Harrowgate and a $ 2.4 million project at the Glavin Leisure Center in Port Richmond.
At Glavin, board member Bobby Henon praised Kenney for proposing Rebuild when he was running for mayor, calling it his “legacy for years to come.” Standing in front of the site’s main building, with its distinctive steeply pitched roof, Henon emphasized the central place of recreation centers and parks in the community fabric.
“How exciting it is to finally have resources to put into a hugely used playground,” he said. “You have a playground that has so much history and in such a densely populated area where families have chosen to stay – families have decided to go out and use its open spaces, use its play equipment and its leisure center and its programs. “
Lacey Dugan, who lives nearby, watched the speeches with her husband while holding her 4-month-old son on her shoulder and watching her 3-year-old wander the worn out surface of the playground.
“He comes here all the time, as much as we can,” she said. “He loves swings. He would sit on the swings for hours if he could. He runs everywhere, brings his toys.
Young girl then teenager, said Dugan, she went to Glavin “all the time” to shoot hoops or play “lemon crush” on a big slide that is long gone. She did Girl Scouts, karate lessons and tumbling in the recreation center, and visited the haunted house on Halloween.
“We want to be here for years to come,” she said. “Fixing it would be great for the kids, so they can enjoy it more.”
A design led by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will bring Glavin new playgrounds, trees, a spray field and shaded seating area, as well as new heating and cooling systems for the building and a wheelchair accessible washroom .
Kenney said others would decide if Rebuild was his legacy, but added that he expected the program to continue renovating parks and libraries for years after he left office in January 2024. He it would be “stupid” for a future mayor to put an end to soda. tax, he said, because it provides another stream of funding for the “good things” the city needs.
The mayor noted that the 1.5 cent per ounce tax also funds pre-K programs and the community schools program, which provides social services to public school campuses. Critics say the tax has resulted in job losses in retail, bottling plants and trucking, while a recent Rutgers University study found the tax created 800 to 1,350 jobs by funding child care and allowing more low-income parents to work.