PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney today joined City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and other City officials to celebrate the first groundbreaking for Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild) which took place at Parkside Fields. Rebuild, made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, is Mayor Jim Kenney’s initiative to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to improve neighborhood parks, recreation centers, and libraries throughout the city.
This groundbreaking marks the first Rebuild project to enter the construction phase. Most Rebuild projects have been delayed due to a court case challenging the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. In July, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the tax which allowed the City to issue bonds for Rebuild and for the initiative to begin. Other projects that will begin soon include Vare Recreation Center, Olney Recreation Center, Frank Glavin Memorial Playground (also known as A&W Playground), and Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, all of which will launch in early 2019 starting with community engagement and design.
“For too long we have under-resourced our public spaces,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Today marks an important step in changing that narrative. Now that the Beverage Tax has been upheld, we can make this investment in our neighborhoods. But this isn’t just an investment in a field. This is an investment in our residents and the future of this community. There are many more groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, and celebrations to come. Our residents have waited long enough and the time has come to provide them with the high-quality facilities they deserve.”
The Parkside Fields project, which is being managed by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority on behalf of Rebuild, will create two new public athletic fields that will serve the Parkside community in West Philadelphia, including the schools and sports programs in and around the neighborhood. The Parkside Fields project will be completed in two phases. The first phase of the project, where construction is beginning, will convert a grassy area on Parkside Avenue into a practice field. The second phase, which is currently being designed, will renovate a second field for football and soccer games.
“I was a strong supporter of Rebuild from day one,” said Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. “The opportunity to provide new recreation space in the 4th District is critical for the growth and development of area youth. Area schools will now have a field to call their own. Not every kid will have a chance to go to Disney World but they should have access to a clean, modern and safe recreation space. I am incredibly excited that the first Rebuild project will be right here in the 4th District.”
In addition to the benefits that the new fields will bring to the community, the project will also advance Rebuild’s goals for diversity and inclusion. The project is expected to meet Rebuild’s goals for participation of minority-owned businesses and exceed the goals for participation of woman-owned businesses.
“The promise of Rebuild goes beyond fixing our parks, recreation centers, and libraries,” said Nicole Westerman, executive director for Rebuild. “This historic investment allows us to provide diverse businesses – which are often underrepresented on public works projects — with opportunities to strengthen and grow their businesses through work on Rebuild projects.”
Last month, the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) issued bonds for Rebuild on behalf of the City. The issuance provided $85.6 million in funding for Rebuild and represented the first of three expected borrowings for the initiative, all of which are made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. The new funding will allow for more projects to start across Philadelphia in the coming months.
“The Parkside Fields project will radically improve the quality of athletic opportunities for Parkside residents, youth sports leagues, and students from nearby schools,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner, Kathryn Ott Lovell. “This first Rebuild groundbreaking is a watershed moment not just for the Parkside community, but for all Philadelphians. It marks the beginning of a surge of significant capital and community investments at Parks & Recreation facilities across the city, a surge that is long overdue.”