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Philadelphia, PA– Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and The Trust for Public Land hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the completion of a newly ‘greened’ playground at Hank Gathers Recreation Center in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philadelphia.  Amenities at the playground include new play equipment and swings with safety surfacing, a spray park, upgraded seating areas, a picnic grove under a canopy of trees, a walking path, and new fencing.

“Making Philadelphia the greenest city in America involves infrastructure changes and creating healthy, sustainable spaces, and it is also about creating opportunities to educate our children about the environment so that they are prepared to care for it in the future,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Thanks to the hard work of our City departments and our partners, Philadelphia is well on its way to becoming America’s greenest city.”

The project is the second of ten planned sites to be completed through a public/private partnership, known as Green2015, between the City of Philadelphia, The Trust for Public Land, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the School District of Philadelphia and several non-profit and community groups.  The initiative is part of Mayor Nutter’s comprehensive plan to significantly increase outdoor recreational opportunities and green infrastructure in underserved neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.   

Today’s ribbon cutting is a major accomplishment for the Green2015 action plan, which was unveiled at William Dick Elementary School in May, 2012. When completed, the 10 schoolyards and city recreation centers targeted for renovation by Green2015 will provide 12 new acres of green play spaces and serve more than 100,000 residents at a total cost of approximately $10 million, about half of which will be funded by a combination of state, city, and school district sources.

“When we launched the Green2015 action plan, our goal was to chart a course for action that would make our city more equitable, livable and competitive.  We again stand in partnership to make good on that goal through the greening and connecting of our community assets, parks and recreation centers and schoolyards,” said Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor, Environmental & Community Resources/Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “With this partnership and the community, the Hank Gathers Recreation Center is a place for high-quality indoor and outdoor recreation for children and families.  Green2015 is a smart choice, makes sense for Philadelphia, and we look forward to engaging with many partners to continue advancing this work.”

Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land’s Pennsylvania state director, said, “By creating a new outdoor play space at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center and a green schoolyard across the street at the William Dick Elementary School, this innovative partnership is delivering much-needed opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Strawberry Mansion community.  As we speak we are replicating this success at other schoolyards and recreation centers in other neighborhoods, so more kids in Philadelphia have green places to play.”

Cindy Dunn, Acting Secretary for Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said, “Ensuring that close-to-home recreational opportunities and green space remains accessible, safe, and well-maintained is a high priority for DCNR.  The City of Philadelphia and Trust for Public Land should be commended on building and leveraging unique funding partnerships in order to reimagine and reinvest in Hank Gathers Rec Center for the next generation of kids and families.”

Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation, said, “Parks and playgrounds are vital components of livable communities.  We are pleased to partner with The Trust for Public Land, City of Philadelphia and the many participating funders and organizations on this project which, with its green elements, will enhance the health and well-being of community residents for years to come.”

The William Penn Foundation, one of the original supporters of the planning and public engagement effort to draft the Green2015 action plan, also provided significant resources for the ten-site initiative. Additional private support for the Hank Gathers Recreation Center project was provided by MetLife Foundation, The Otto Haas Charitable Trust at the direction of John and Janet Haas, the National Recreation Foundation, H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, the McLean Contributionship and NBCUniversal Foundation. 

Through its Parks for People–Philadelphia program, The Trust for Public Land is playing a key role in implementing the Green2015 Initiative to transform 500 acres of land into neighborhood green spaces by 2015. The Trust for Public Land works with the City of Philadelphia to identify existing schoolyards and recreation centers as prime opportunities for conversion into greened play spaces and recreation areas.