Rebuild and partners will invest $3M in site upgrades to benefit the community
PHILADELPHIA (December 12, 2022) – Mayor Jim Kenney, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), State Representative Joanna McClinton (PA-191), Fairmount Park Conservancy, and community members today broke ground on a $3 million renovation project at Cobbs Nature Playground and Environmental Center in West Philadelphia.
The Cobbs Creek Environmental Center and Nature Playground, both located in Cobbs Creek Park, are set to begin transformational improvements after an immersive community engagement process.
“The Cobbs Creek Playground and Environmental Center offer recreational opportunities to the surrounding neighborhood and a gateway to the beautiful natural setting of Cobbs Creek,” said Mayor Kenney. “This renovation project is a wonderful example of our collaboration and investment to celebrate and build on our City’s incredible green spaces. I am thrilled about the vision for this unique project and look forward to its realization.”
“I am proud to honor the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center – a critical and unique part of West Philadelphia’s fabric – by augmenting it with a world-class playground,” Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said. “And at a time when Cobbs Creek is experiencing a disproportionate amount of gun violence, it couldn’t be more important to give young people in the area a haven to play, socialize, relax, and just be kids.”
The park improvements are made possible by the City’s Rebuild program — a historic investment in public spaces — and funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Keystone Communities Grant Program, championed by State House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (PA-191).
“It’s an exciting time in the Cobbs Creek section of West and Southwest Philly. This partnership has allowed us to double our investments and ensure our children’s children will be enjoying these public spaces for years to come,” said PA State House Leader Joanna McClinton. “It’s important we let our young people know they matter, that their lives matter. One way we can do that is by providing opportunities for our youngest neighbors to enjoy all the wonderful, free public spaces the city has to offer.”
Totaling $1.5 million in investments, the Cobbs Nature Playground revitalization will include:
- New nature-themed play equipment
- Installation of safety surfaces
- Water misters
- Water fountain/bottle filler
- Planting of trees
- On-site seating (tree stumps, logs and benches)
- Turf grass
- Concrete walking paths
- Updated signage
- Trash receptacles
- Pedestrian lighting and security cameras
In addition to the Nature Playground, Rebuild has partnered with the Fairmount Park Conservancy to invest $1.5 million into the Cobbs Creek Environmental Center with improvements including:
- Restoring the iconic cupola and windows
- Updating heating and cooling systems
- New roof installation
- Interior upgrades to the building
“The Mayor and his administration have been tireless champions of the work Rebuild is doing to keep our community spaces welcoming and accessible to all,” said Kira Strong, Executive Director of Rebuild. “At Rebuild, our promise to all the communities we work with is to acknowledge the history of each site, meaningfully engage the community in the design process, and invest intentionally to deliver a space that helps the community thrive.”
“Fairmount Park Conservancy is pleased to be leading a $1.5 million rehabilitation project of the Cobbs Creek Environmental Center which will provide an improved space where students and community members can learn about the Cobbs Creek Watershed in their own backyard,” stated Maura McCarthy, Ph.D, Executive Director of Fairmount Park Conservancy. “The work, led by the capital and conservation teams at the Conservancy, represents a unique opportunity to align the Conservancy’s expertise in historic park structure stewardship, expeditious capital project management, and meaningful community engagement.”
These two sites starting construction signify the beginning of over $20M worth of Rebuild projects benefiting the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia. In addition to the Environmental Center and Nature Playground – neighbors will see improvements coming to Johnny Sample Recreation Center and Blanche A. Nixon Library.
“The upgrades that are coming to Cobbs Nature Playground and Environmental Center are one of hope and light for future generations,” said Commissioner for Parks & Recreation, Kathryn Ott Lovell. “We are so grateful to the incredible community that’s stewarded this park over the years and I’m excited for the much-needed improvements coming here.”
Construction is set to begin in December 2022 and is anticipated to complete in Spring 2023.
Rebuild is a historic investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries across Philadelphia. Proposed in Mayor Jim Kenney’s first budget as a part of his vision for a more equitable Philadelphia, Rebuild’s promise to acknowledge history, engage the community and invest intentionally seeks to uplift pivotal community spaces, empower neighborhoods, and promote economic opportunity through diversity and inclusion.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. In 2017, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, set about implementing the park system’s first strategic plan: Our Path to 2020 and Beyond. As a result, PPR is undertaking a period of historic change, setting the department on a course to become a modern, equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system. Visit us at www.phila.gov/parksandrec, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Fairmount Park Conservancy brings parks to life. We work with the City of Philadelphia and its communities to steward our parks and nurture our shared environment, cultural resources, and public health. We lead capital projects and historic preservation efforts, foster neighborhood park stewardship, attract and leverage investments, and develop innovative programs throughout the 10,200 acres that include Fairmount Park, six other watershed parks and more than 130 neighborhood parks and gardens around the city. For more information, please visit myphillypark.org, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @myphillypark.