Philadelphia’s Public Spaces Could Get a $500 Million Makeover

Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia’s parks and other public spaces could be getting a huge upgrade in coming years.

Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney revealed details of an initiative to repair and improve parks, recreation centers and libraries in neighborhoods across the city.

The plan — which Kenney is expected to outline in full in his March 3 budget address — would involve the city selling $300 million in bonds, plus securing around another $200 million from state and federal governments and philanthropic foundations over the next few years.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation currently runs on a budget of around $60 million a year, which, according to the Kenney administration, is the lowest of the top 10 cities in the country and well below the national average. Kenney told news site PlanPhilly that many communities don’t have the public spaces they deserve.

“When we have a football league in South Philadelphia where we have suburban people come into our communities and look at what our kids have to play with, and then our kids go out to the suburbs and play in pristinely manicured fields, it makes us feel like second-class citizens, and we’re not,” he said. “I think this investment will give people in every community a sense of equity and fairness, that we care about them and we value them as citizens.”

During his campaign for mayor, Kenney, who took office last month, promised to reach beyond investment in Philly’s Center City and focus on more neighborhoods.

There are already some grants secured to help with the planning stages of the upgrade.