Mayor Announces Next Rebuild Project, Discusses Pathways into Building Trades

PHILADELPHIA – Today, at an event in Olney, Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Councilwoman Cherelle Parker to announce Olney Recreation Center as the second project to receive investment from Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild), the City’s initiative to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in parks, recreation centers, and libraries across Philadelphia. The announcement comes a day after City Council moved legislation out of committee to approve Rebuild’s first round of sites and budget.

At the event, the Mayor also highlighted two written agreements with the local construction unions that will help create opportunities for more minorities and women to become members of the unions.

“Today is a celebration of why Rebuild will be such an important program for Philadelphia neighborhoods,” said Mayor Kenney. “Not only will Rebuild invest in facilities like Olney, but through the process we will also create important career opportunities for Philadelphians. Regardless of your gender or race, we want to give people the chance to support their family through a career in construction.”

In spring 2017, the City agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Building Trades Council to create PHL Pipeline, a program that’s expected to prepare approximately 30 people each year for apprenticeships in the trades through Rebuild.

Earlier in May, the Mayor signed a second MOU between the City, the building trades and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) to allow individuals who are not members of the unions to receive membership after being hired by PRA to work on Rebuild projects.

“Through this new program, people hired by PRA to work on Rebuild will be put on a direct pathway to full union membership” said Ryan N. Boyer, Business Manager for the Laborers District Council. “This is an important step towards upholding our commitment to bringing more people of color and women into the trades through Rebuild.”

Through the program, individuals hired by PRA to work on Rebuild projects will receive union benefits as soon as they begin work. After working 3,000 hours on Rebuild projects, which is estimated to be approximately one and a half years of steady work, participants of the program can become full union members. The program is expected to create 30 jobs over the life of the initiative.

Both programs are expected to start after the majority of Rebuild’s funding becomes available through bond proceeds that will be repaid by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. The bonds won’t be issued until after the tax has been upheld by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court.

While the court case is pending, a limited number of sites, including Olney Recreation Center, will begin using the $8 million in funding that has already been approved for Rebuild in the City’s FY2018 capital budget. The recreation center needs a wide range of improvements to the building, playground, fields, and basketball courts. Later this year, some immediate fixes will be made along with the launch of a planning and community engagement process for more extensive improvements.

“These investments will help further the revitalization already taking place in Olney by providing a state-of-the-art facility in this growing and diverse neighborhood” said Councilwoman Parker. “I am equally thrilled that Rebuild will ensure that our construction workforce begins to better reflect the diversity of Philadelphia through pathways to union membership for more people of color and women. Additionally, Rebuild should serve as a model for diversity and inclusion in future development projects.”

Separately, Councilwoman Parker announced that the City will make a similar investment in Lawncrest Recreation Center in the Lawncrest neighborhood using capital dollars allocated to her office.

The other Rebuild sites expected to start this year will be announced in the coming weeks.