Citywide Green Schoolyard Initiative Announced at William Cramp Elementary
Today, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Deputy Mayor/Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Philadelphia Water Department Deputy Commissioner Christopher Crockett, and The Trust for Public Land's Jeff Danter, Senior Vice President and Atlantic Seaboard Division Director, announced the expansion of the City's innovative Green2015 partnership and celebrated the latest accomplishment in the initiative, the pending completion of a new green schoolyard at the William Cramp Elementary School.
During the press conference, the School District of Philadelphia announced plans, pending School Reform Commission approval, to invest $5 million in capital funding over the next five years to support the development of 20 additional green schoolyards in partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL). This investment will be leveraged with private funding being raised by TPL, and through investments in green infrastructure at the schools, which will come from the Philadelphia Water Department's innovative Green City, Clean Waters program. When combined with the five pilot green schoolyards currently in development through the Green2015 partnership, the expansion will bring the School District's total investment in the initiative to $6 million and will result in an estimated $20 million in capital improvements.
"This partnership helps to advance our work towards ensuring students have great schools – inside and out – close to where they live," said Dr. Hite. "We are proud to create more great green school buildings throughout the School District of Philadelphia."
Along with the commitment to create more green schoolyards, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation will continue its investments to convert more underutilized recreation centers into green outdoor play spaces in neighborhoods lacking readily available parks. With five recreation center sites currently in development, the department aims to develop additional green recreation centers in collaboration with TPL in coming years.
"Making Philadelphia the greenest city in America involves infrastructure changes, innovative partnerships and creating healthy, sustainable spaces, and it is also about creating opportunities where children and families can play and learn," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "Thanks to the hard work of our City departments and our partners, we celebrate the work at hand as well as the work ahead to support more green schoolyards and play spaces."
"This partnership is making good on our collective Green2015 goal to make the city more equitable, livable, and competitive through the greening and connecting of our neighborhood 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, we stand ready to continue and expand this good work to provide more children and families with places for recreation and increase the attractiveness of our neighborhoods."
"Collaborative projects like the William Cramp School renovation demonstrate the value of green infrastructure and the Green City, Clean Waters program," said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Howard Neukrug. "By joining forces with Parks and Recreation, City Council, the School District and non-profit partners, we are able to revitalize parks, schoolyards and other public areas to create healthier places that also protect our rivers and our drinking water in a cost-effective way."
"Philadelphia is leading the way in showing the country how green infrastructure can be woven into community playground improvements in ways that not only reduce water pollution, but also provide a whole host of community benefits," said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land's Pennsylvania state director. "The Trust for Public Land is honored and excited to see our pilot partnership in Philadelphia expanding to provide more community green spaces in neighborhoods lacking easy access to a park."
A "hard-hat" tour of the William Cramp Schoolyard, led by student designers from the school, highlighted various improvements that are now in construction. Previously an open asphalt lot, the new schoolyard will include play equipment and safety surfacing, an artificial turf field and a landscaped planting bed that captures stormwater runoff, a running track, an outdoor music room with musical instruments, a handball court and
half basketball court, shade trees and a refurbished fence.
Private support for the first ten 'pilot' sites in the Green2015 initiative came from The William Penn Foundation, MetLife Foundation, The Otto Haas Charitable Trust, the National Recreation Foundation, and numerous other donors. The Trust for Public Land has committed to raising an additional $1 million per year to support community involvement in the design process, to oversee design and construction, and to establish seed funding for stewardship at each completed site.