The Lackman Rec Center sits on 11.7 acres in Bustleton. It has a pool, a nice one, and ballfields, basketball courts, playground equipment and tennis courts, but City Councilman Brian O’Neill feels it’s underused.
Part of that might be attributed to where Lackman is — 1101 Bartlett St. Most people in Bustleton would probably need GPS to find it, the councilman joked in a phone interview last week. The facility is south of Red Lion Road, east of Verree and west of Bustleton in the middle of a small nest of one-way streets above Morefield Road.
O’Neill said the playground equipment is in good shape and the pool area has almost a country club feel, but it’s the grounds around the rec center building that look a little uninviting, maybe even shabby. There are plenty of good things about the building, but, “There’s a lot of unnecessary asphalt around it,” he said. “And when you walk into the playground, it’s sort of Third World looking.”
There’s not enough parking either, he said.
The councilman had scheduled a Jan. 21 meeting at the center to talk about plans to renovate it and listen to neighbors’ ideas, but that session got snowed off the calendar.
It’s back on for 7 p.m. on Feb. 5, so Bustleton residents who want to hear about how $400,000 in city money will be spent to upgrade the rec center can get an earful then and there, and maybe bring some suggestions of their own.
There’s probably no way to make Lackman easier to find, but O’Neill wants to make it easier to park there — legally. Right now, there aren’t enough spots, so those driving to see football or baseball games often park on the grass. Cops issue $100 tickets for that, the councilman said. To remedy that, he wants to double the parking spaces in some unused parts of the rec center and have guardrails put up to keep cars off the grass.
Further parts of the plan include upgrading the front of the building, moving and redesigning the center’s small playground, using existing plumbing to create a water spray park for kids and building a little raceway, complete with crossing signs, for small children to ride their tricycles and getting more grass.
The councilman said he started working on improving the center about three years ago, but added none of the current plan is final, O’Neill said.
“We want comments and suggestions” from the public at the Feb. 5 meeting, which is the first public meeting on Lackman, but probably not the last, O’Neill said.
Named for Officer William Lackman, who was killed in the line of duty at Welsh and Verree roads in 1968, the rec center’s playground opened in 1969, and its pool opened in 1970, said Deputy Recreation Commissioner Leo Dignam. The only renovation done since then, he said, was an addition to the original building.
Part of the renovations O’Neill wants will include installing cameras to monitor the facility as well as “the Mosquito,” a device that emits an annoying sound that only people younger than those in their early 20s can hear. The Mosquito will get turned on after 9 p.m. to discourage juvenile loitering and vandalism.
Ditto for the cameras. They discourage vandalism, and help cops catch vandals because their actions are recorded. O’Neill said the cameras protect the city’s investment in its rec centers. He pointed to a recent incident at the Boyle rec center in Somerton in which vandals were taped in the act and caught by police. ••