Plans revealed for Penn Treaty Park playground

Com­munity mem­bers re­viewed two pos­sible plans for a new play­ground at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown at a meet­ing Thursday.

Com­munity mem­bers sup­por­ted the plan pic­tured at a meet­ing at Shiss­ley Re­cre­ation Cen­ter on Thursday, Feb. 28. IM­AGE COUR­TESY OF THE DE­PART­MENT OF PUB­LIC PROP­ERTY

Loc­al res­id­ents were in­vited to a meet­ing at Shissler Re­cre­ation Cen­ter on Thursday, Feb. 28, to view two pos­sible plans for a new play­ground at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown.

The meet­ing was hos­ted by the Friends of Penn Treaty Park, the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Prop­erty and Phil­adelphia Parks and Re­cre­ation.

“What we plan to present is a cul­min­a­tion of a series of dis­cus­sions in­volving the play area and the park,” Stephanie Craighead, dir­ect­or of plan­ning, pre­ser­va­tion and prop­erty man­age­ment for Phil­adelphia Parks and Re­cre­ation, an­nounced at the meet­ing.

While this was the first time res­id­ents saw the fi­nal plans, the ini­tial concept for a new play­ground began over two years ago when the City of Phil­adelphia and the Friends of Penn Treaty Park com­mis­sioned Stu­dio Bry­an Hanes, a Phil­adelphia-based land­scape ar­chi­tect and design stu­dio, to de­vel­op a mas­ter plan for Penn Treaty Park that would make it a premi­er des­tin­a­tion while pre­serving its his­tor­ic­al and eco­lo­gic­al in­teg­rity.  

The plan in­cluded a new play­ground, but noth­ing com­pared to what the com­munity and the or­gan­iz­a­tions have col­lab­or­ated to cre­ate.

Reached via email, Friends of Penn Treaty Park Pres­id­ent AJ Thom­son said the de­cision to de­part from the mas­ter plan was made be­cause the ori­gin­al play­ground design “had noth­ing a child would want to play on.”  The new design, he said, en­com­passes a more com­mon-sense ap­proach to child­hood re­cre­ation by util­iz­ing fun equip­ment in a great set­ting.

De­borah Cahill, the land­scape ar­chi­tect and pro­ject man­ager for the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Prop­erty, said the cur­rent play­ground equip­ment is worn out.  In ad­di­tion to need­ing new equip­ment, its loc­a­tion at the low­est point in the park, ac­cord­ing to Cahill, is not ideal be­cause the soil is con­stantly wet and not con­du­cive to play­ing.

After re­view­ing the cur­rent con­di­tions, Cahill presen­ted two sim­il­ar plans for the new play­ground.

The new loc­a­tion, in both plans, is situ­ated in an area that is more be­ne­fi­cial.

“It is visu­ally an en­closed area; you have a con­crete walk­way that is in very good shape; you have ex­ist­ing benches that are in very good shape; you have ADA ac­cess­ib­il­ity; you have the park­ing lot; and people can come right in,” Cahill said.

The new el­ev­ated loc­a­tion also fixes the wa­ter re­ten­tion is­sue.

Aside from loc­a­tion, both plans pro­pose new play struc­tures for both tot and ju­ni­or sec­tions, a swing set, step­ping stones and a turtle struc­ture.

“The play­ground equip­ment is land­scaped struc­tures,” Cahill said. “We settled on a wood­land set­ting. We have mush­room step­ping stones and we have tree stumps that are play equip­ment.”

The turtle struc­ture, his­tor­ic­ally sig­ni­fic­ant in its con­nec­tion to the Lenape In­di­ans, ac­cord­ing to Cahill, will serve as a wel­com­ing agent, much like the bronze goat in Ritten­house Square.  

Both plans would re­quire re­mov­ing a hand­ful of trees, a con­di­tion that troubled a couple of res­id­ents. Cahill as­sured them that the trees be­ing re­moved are dis­eased and that ad­di­tion­al trees could be planted.

The first plan pro­posed mov­ing the ob­elisk, the monu­ment com­mem­or­at­ing the peace treaty signed between Wil­li­am Penn and the Lenape In­di­an tribe in 1682, to its ori­gin­al loc­a­tion in the north­w­est sec­tion of the park. This plan also called for more grass in the en­closed play area.

Plan two, which res­id­ents over­whelm­ing sup­por­ted, keeps the ob­elisk in its cur­rent loc­a­tion, but places it on a set­ting high­light­ing the monu­ment, and as Cahill hopes, makes it an edu­ca­tion­al, his­tor­ic­al and wel­com­ing part of the play­ground and the park.   

The second plan also calls for the in­stall­a­tion of safety sur­face, re­cycled plastic ma­ter­i­al re­sem­bling mulch, to car­pet the ap­prox­im­ately 100 square feet of play­ground. 

Four back­less, black benches would also be ad­ded to the walk­way lead­ing to the play­ground.  

At the con­clu­sion of the meet­ing, res­id­ents ex­pressed their sup­port of the second plan.

The play­ground is be­ing fun­ded by the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­ur­al Re­sources, the De­part­ment of Parks and Re­cre­ation, Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict and the Friends of Penn Treaty Park.  

Fund­ing for the pro­ject is totaled at ap­prox­im­ately $300,000.

When asked for a timeline, Cahill and Craighead did not provide a spe­cif­ic date, but ex­plained that the bid pro­cess alone takes six months and con­struc­tion can be ex­pec­ted to be­gin with­in a year of the bid pro­cess be­ing com­pleted.

Thom­son is con­fid­ent that the pro­cess will start soon­er, hop­ing for “at least a shovel in the ground by the end of this year.”

ldquo;The play­ground there now is in­ad­equate for the wa­ter­front treas­ure we have there,” Thom­son said. “I really think this is go­ing to be a des­tin­a­tion and is go­ing to lead to fur­ther fund­ing to im­prove the park.” ••

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