Councilman Bobby Henon hosted a meeting at the Bridesburg Recreation Center on Monday, Feb. 24, to reveal possible renovations to the center and receive feedback from local residents.
Although a definite amount of funding is not yet allocated because the final plan has not been determined, Henon has committed to backing the project.
“It’s a significant investment from the city, specifically the 6th district capital budget that I have,‘ Henon said. “I know it’s been a long time since Bridesburg has had any type of these investments so I want to make sure you’re a part of it.”
About 30 people attended the meeting. On hand to present renovation options was Francesco Cerrai, design and construction project manager for the Department of Public Property, who will be in charge of the capital improvements that Henon is proposing.
Cerrai said the initial renovations would mainly focus on the playground area at Bridesburg Rec.
Possible improvements include rehabbing and adding play equipment, replacing the safety matting and resurfacing the basketball and tennis courts.
“We want to create a place where kids come and play and stay safe,” Cerrai said.
The first step in creating a safe space would be replacing the safety matting, the shock-absorbent rubber surface surrounding the play structures. As evidenced in photos displayed by the Department of Public Properties, the safety matting surface is worn down and poses a safety issue for children at play.
ldquo;The main thing is replacing the safety surface,” Cerrai said. “We have different standards now. We require a much thicker one.”
Chris Creelman, director of constituent services and special projects for Henon’s office, affirmed the need to replace the safety matting.
“Most of the original concerns we received from Bridesburg residents involved the safety matting of the playground, so that’s what we focused on first,” he said.
In addition to replacing the safety matting, Henon proposes to rehab the swing set and add new play equipment.
“The tot lot section of the playground will keep its existing play structures,” he said. The new play equipment, he said, would be added to the junior section of the playground in an effort to separate the two age groups and reduce safety issues.
Possible play equipment to be added include a spinner and two cable-constructed climbing structures, similar to those, according to Creelman, that Henon funded at Russo playground, located at Frankford and Torresdale avenues.
Aside from the play area, the plan also suggests replacing the surrounding concrete paving and resurfacing both the basketball and tennis courts.
After the presentation, community members suggested additional renovations, including adding benches, getting better lighting, planting more trees and rehabbing the tennis court so that it could easily be converted for hockey or soccer use. Henon assured them that all options would be considered when finalizing the plan.
Another major concern for both residents and Henon’s office was some neighbors using the tennis courts as a mock dog park, with no regard to sanitation. Henon said he would address the problem by bringing a real dog park to the area, stating: “I am looking for a dog park somewhere in the district. I’m looking in this area. I’m committing that you will have a dog park.”
So, when can residents expect to see the improvements?
While Cerrai said it could take up to two years, depending on which plan is adopted, Henon is hopeful to begin the renovations next spring.
“Maybe next spring should be our timeline,” Henon said, and reminded residents their cooperation was essential. “We need to make decisions as a community quickly,” he said. Once the community’s input is received, Henon will meet with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to review the plan and give his final approval.
Stay informed about the latest developments in the Bridesburg Rec Center renovation project by visiting bobbyhenon.com/bridesburg_rec_renovations or following Councilman Henon on Facebook at facebook.com/CouncilmanHenon. ••