PHILADELPHIA — Today Philadelphia City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier joined Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and residents at Christy Recreation Center in West Philadelphia to announce a major site renovation. The improvement plan will make the exterior of the 3.2 acre recreation campus more welcoming, more accessible, and able to host even more high quality community programming. The Councilmember also announced $1 million in City capital funding toward the first phase of the improvement project.

“West Philadelphia’s recreation centers, parks and playgrounds are vital resources that help families thrive and bring communities together,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “As we work to create safer communities and to better support young people impacted by violence, investing in our public places is absolutely critical. Working together with the Christy Rec family and residents, we are going to deliver a more welcoming, safe and accessible recreation center for this community.”

Sadly, Christy Recreation Center and the surrounding neighborhood have become hotspots for gun violence in recent years, making the work to reclaim the rec center as a safe and supportive community resource all the more urgent. On March 11, 2021, a shooting on the Christy Rec basketball court took the life of 16-year-old Kahree Simmons, and injured two 15-year-old children.

The impact of this tragedy reverberated throughout the West Philadelphia community. In the wake of the incident, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the offices of Councilmember Gauthier, Senator Anthony H. Williams, State Representatives Rick Krajewski and Joanna McClinton, and other community stakeholders banded together with the advisory council at Christy to reboot safe programming at the site, and to assess physical upgrades that would make the facility both safer and more inviting to local residents.

“This announcement is welcome news for West Philadelphians,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Safe, modern recreation facilities are lifelines for young people, and that is especially true at a site like Christy, where staff provide young people an outlet to have fun, stay positive, and build positive relationships with peers and caring adult role models.”

The $1 million funding for Phase 1 of the project will include the exterior site improvements, and some work to the front and side entrances to the building. The site renovation includes a reorganization of underutilized exterior areas to provide improved site layouts and additional amenities for the community.

Phase I renovations will include:

  • A new spray-ground.

  • New playground equipment (near the building main entrance)

  • Re-surfacing basketball courts.

  • A new multi-use striped court.

  • Outdoor exercise equipment.

  • Seating and gathering spaces.

  • Additional security cameras as necessary

Future project phases will include additional field upgrades, based on available funds. Design work will begin in the coming months, and construction is expected to begin in summer 2023.

“Today represents a significant step forward in our work to help stabilize a community that has been suffering,” said State Senator Tony Williams. “Christy is a true community asset, and I will continue to do everything possible to support efforts focused on delivering quality programming and safe spaces to our friends and neighbors.”

“The young people and community of West Philadelphia deserve a park and recreation center where they can safely play, recreate, meet, learn, and have fun,” said State Representative Rick Krajewski. “With gun violence ravaging our communities, we need to invest in our public spaces to allow at-risk youth to enjoy community and leisure. That’s why I’m working in my role as State Legislator alongside Councilmember Gauthier to pursue all sources of funding for new capital investments at Christy Recreation Center. Investing in our parks and recreation centers is an investment into the future of our youth and the strength of our community.”