City to ‘Rebuild’ public spaces
New program aims to improve parks, libraries, rec centers across city
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.