City to ‘Re­build’ public spa­ces

New pro­gram aims to im­prove parks, li­braries, rec cen­ters across city

The Review - - Front Page - By Kier­sten McMona­gle

ROX­BOR­OUGH » Mem­bers of the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor’s Of­fice of the City of Phil­a­del­phia met with the Rox­bor­ough com­mu­nity Mon­day, Oct. 23, to in­tro­duce them to the city’s new­est pro­gram, Re­build Phil­a­del­phia.

The City of Phil­a­del­phia is in­vest­ing $500 mil­lion into Re­build Phil­a­del­phia, an ini­tia­tive in­tended to help re­build and im­prove upon ex­ist­ing com­mu­nity spa­ces through­out Phil­a­del­phia neigh­bor­hoods, such as parks, li­braries and recre­ation cen­ters.

The meet­ing, hosted by Coun­cil­man Cur­tis Jones Jr., served to in­form com­mu­nity busi­ness own­ers and con­trac­tors about the up­com­ing pro­gram and the op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be avail­able for them to get in­volved.

“We have an op­por­tu­nity to le- ve­r­age tax­payer funds tomake in­vest­ments in small and lo­cal busi­nesses, to have our busi­nesses in­volved in re­build con­tracts and to give path­ways for more mi­nori­ties and women into build­ing trades, so that th­ese con­struc­tion sites will [bet­ter re­sem­ble] Phil­a­del­phia com­mu­ni­ties,” said Ni­cole Wester­man, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Re­build Phil­a­del­phia.

She ex­plained that be­yond im­prov­ing the phys­i­cal ap­pear- ance of Phil­a­del­phia com­mu­nity spa­ces, one of the big­gest goals for Re­build Phil­a­del­phia is to im­prove the over­all health of the city and its res­i­dents. As part of this goal, Re­build Phil­a­del­phia is fo­cused on work­ing with as many peo­ple of color and women as pos­si­ble.

Al Spivey Jr., Jones’ chief of staff, echoed this sen­ti­ment, as well as the coun­cil­man’s de­sire

to im­prove upon Rox­bor­ough’s public spa­ces as a place for lower-in­come fam­i­lies to get out­side and en­joy their time with fam­ily and friends.

“There are some folks in this dis­trict that they can’t go to Dis­ney,” he said. “The rec cen­ter be­comes that slice of heaven. We have some pretty good rec cen­ters com­pared to other parts of the city, butwe can do bet­ter.”

Mem­bers of the Re­build Phil­a­del­phia team have iden­ti­fied ap­prox­i­mately 400 lo­ca­tions through­out Phil­a­del­phia that need to be im­proved upon. With the $500 mil­lion in­vested in this pro­gram, the City of Phil­a­del­phia ex­pects to be able to com­plete about 150 to 200 projects. For each of th­ese projects, the Re­build Phil­a­del­phia team is hop­ing to in­volve lo­cal small busi­nesses and con­trac­tors with rel­e­vant skills.

Ul­ti­mately, the City of Phil­a­del­phia will co­or­di­nate and over­see the projects tak­ing place through­out Phil­a­del­phia neigh­bor­hoods, but lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions will do the ma­jor­ity of the plan­ning, while lo­cal small busi­nesses will con­duct on-the-ground work. While non­prof­its are still be­ing cho­sen for the project, Wester­man ex­plained that their hope is th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions will be bet­ter able to work with the com­mu­nity in build­ing some­thing sus­tain­able.

“They’re em­bed­ded in their com­mu­ni­ties,” she said, ex­plain­ing that they al­ready know and un­der­stand com­mu­nity mem­bers and their needs.

The first group of non­profit project lead­ers will be in­tro­duced in Novem­ber, af­ter which the spe­cific sites to be ren­o­vated will be an­nounced. Con­struc­tion is an­tic­i­pated to be­gin in the spring of 2018.

Be­cause Re­build Phil­a­del­phia is still get­ting started, spe­cific job op­por­tu­ni­ties haven’t been iden­ti­fied yet. How­ever, Western­man an­tic­i­pates that busi­nesses re­lated to HVAC, roof­ing, in­te­rior ren­o­va­tions and plumb­ing will be in high de­mand through­out the project. Lo­cal busi­ness own­ers who are in­ter­ested in the op­por­tu­nity should visit the project web­site, re­build.phila.gov, or email project lead­ers at re­build@ phila.gov for more in­for­ma­tion.

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