Northeast Times

Play time in Mayfair

Com­munity spir­it and cor­por­ate gen­er­os­ity will soon yield a very spe­cial play­ground.

For Melinda Mul­venna, com­ple­tion of a new May­fair Me­mori­al Play­ground will be “a prom­ise kept.”

Back in 2008, her 22-month-old daugh­ter fell after her foot got caught in a hole in the pad­ding on the ground.

The Mul­ven­nas, of Guil­ford Street, had no in­terest in fil­ing a law­suit. They wanted only a safer play en­vir­on­ment for neigh­bor­hood kids.

“I was afraid that an­oth­er child would get hurt,” she said.

The play­ground is loc­ated at Row­land Av­en­ue and Vista Street, on the grounds of Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School. After the in­cid­ent three years ago, the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia ripped out all of the play­ground equip­ment.

Since then, the Friends of May­fair Me­mori­al Play­ground has raised about $23,000 through door-to-door so­li­cit­a­tions, an East­er egg hunt, two beef-and-beers and the an­nu­al Fallen Her­oes Run.

Re­cently, the group’s cof­fers really grew with a prom­ise of $80,000 from Ka­BOOM! Inc., a na­tion­al non-profit group that helps build play­grounds in com­munit­ies.

The money was giv­en to the May­fair Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, which passed it on to the school dis­trict.

Last week, the School Re­form Com­mis­sion con­sidered the dona­tion at its monthly vot­ing meet­ing, which was dom­in­ated by par­ents angry at the de­par­ture of Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man.

Between verbal at­tacks on com­mis­sion mem­bers and school dis­trict of­fi­cials, Mul­venna and May­fair Civic As­so­ci­ation pres­id­ent Joe De­Fe­lice made a short present­a­tion.

Af­ter­ward, com­mis­sion mem­bers Den­ise Mc­Gregor Arm­b­ris­ter, Joseph A. Dworet­zky, Johnny Ir­izarry and chair­man Robert L. Arch­ie Jr. — nom­in­ee Pedro A. Ramos is await­ing state Sen­ate con­firm­a­tion — voted 4-0 to au­thor­ize the school dis­trict to ac­cept the funds to pay for equip­ment and a wood fiber play sur­face.

The school dis­trict will also as­sume li­ab­il­ity.

“This was the ma­jor hurdle,” De­Fe­lice said, adding that he ex­pects Ka­BOOM! and the school dis­trict to part­ner on fu­ture pro­jects.

Sup­port­ers of the play­ground were to con­sider a design this week, with the ac­tu­al work be­ing done in late Oc­to­ber.

“There’s no reas­on that the equip­ment shouldn’t be in the ground on Nov. 1,” De­Fe­lice said.

At the Aug. 24 meet­ing, De­Fe­lice told the com­mis­sion that there are no oth­er play­grounds in the area solely for chil­dren age 7 and young­er. Nor are there any play­grounds with­in walk­ing dis­tance that don’t re­quire chil­dren and par­ents to cross four-lane high­ways such as Cottman Av­en­ue and Frank­ford Av­en­ue.

The May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation and loc­al elec­ted of­fi­cials sup­port the pro­ject.

The play­ground will be ac­cess­ible to chil­dren with aut­ism, cereb­ral palsy and oth­er spe­cial needs.

“That is a big goal, to have a play­ground for every­body,” Mul­venna said.

Ad­ded Magee Av­en­ue res­id­ent Mia Hylan, who has a 1-year-old and 3-year-old: “We want to see spe­cial-needs equip­ment in­cor­por­ated be­cause it’s sorely lack­ing in Phil­adelphia.”

Mul­venna and Row­land Av­en­ue res­id­ent Dana Lam­bie are co-chair­women of the Friends of May­fair Me­mori­al Play­ground, which will pay $8,500 to­ward com­ple­tion of the pro­ject and con­tin­ue to raise money for main­ten­ance and oth­er is­sues.

Ka­BOOM! will over­see the pro­ject, and Play­world Sys­tems will de­liv­er the equip­ment.

In all, there will be 200 vo­lun­teers — 75 sup­plied by the Friends group and 125 by Gi­ant su­per­maket.

Loc­al chil­dren will play a role in the design, ex­pec­ted to in­clude slid­ing boards and climb­ing poles on a level 2,500-square-foot sur­face. Light­ing, fen­cing, flowers and benches will be ad­ded in the spring.

Tu­dor Street res­id­ent Anna Sta­cey, who has a 3-1/2-year-old son, is look­ing for­ward to the new play­ground.

“It’s def­in­itely ex­cit­ing. It’s right around the corner from my house,” said Sta­cey, who at­ten­ded the school re­form com­mis­sion meet­ing.

In the ab­sence of the play­ground the last three years, par­ents have taken their chil­dren to oth­er play­grounds, such as the one at Ver­ree and Susque­hanna roads in Fox Chase.

Still, they said it’ll be nice to have one close to home.

“It’s an empty lot. It’s sad and de­press­ing to walk around there,” Lam­bie said. “Now, there will be a place for all the chil­dren to get to­geth­er to play and in­ter­act and get to know each oth­er.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at   215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus