City debuts refurbished playgrounds following coronavirus-delayed construction

By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A number of Philadelphia playgrounds are reopening this summer with shiny and shady new looks, after several coronavirus-induced delays.

Ryan Campbell, recreation director for Gifford Playground in Somerton, said his summer campers are thrilled with the new equipment.

“We have the — we call it the big kid jungle gym — rock climbing wall and monkey bars, swings for the older kids, and swings for the younger kids,” he said. “We also have what we call the spider wall: a bunch of ropes they can climb up and down.” 

A sprayground has also been installed, but it is not yet operational.

The recently refurbished Gifford Playground in Northeast Philadelphia is part of the first wave of completed park and playground renovations under the city’s Rebuild initiative.

Kira Strong, Rebuild executive director, said four more remodeled playgrounds will reopen soon.

“We’re really excited to able to respond to the needs of families and children to have some outdoor space, especially in our current environment,” she said.

Strong said they initially planned to open Gifford and other sites at the start of the summer, but the pandemic set construction back by about eight weeks.

The Rebuild initiative is funded largely by the city’s beverage tax. Strong said two-thirds of the 72 targeted facilities are in high-needs neighborhoods.

“Rebuild is focused on civic amenities for residents of Philadelphia,” she added, “so right now outdoor spaces, in terms of what we’re able to do, are kind of where it’s at.”