Overall, Philadelphia has more than 400 neighborhood-serving parks, libraries, recreation centers, and playgrounds. Yet, we spend less than most other big cities on maintenance and improvements for our parks and recreation centers which, in some cases, has lead to serious deterioration.
This is something that we must change. Investing in public spaces has proven to enhance public safety, increase educational opportunities, and create jobs and careers in Philadelphia communities. The more we invest in these spaces, the more we can provide these essential services to our residents.
Investing in parks and libraries has been shown to reduce crime. For example, when the City and the Fairmount Park Conservancy invested $5 million in Hunting Park, crime around the park went down 89% over the next three years.
Furthermore, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Free Library are the largest providers of afterschool programs in the City. These facilities and programs engage our city’s youth and help keep them out of harm’s way. Crimes committed by young people triple during afterschool programming hours between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. By investing in the facilities and programming that serve our youth, we can help them channel their energy productively and make our communities safer places for everyone.
Parks, playgrounds, libraries, and recreation centers are more than just safe places to play after school and during summer months; they are sources of critical educational resources and programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students who do extracurricular activities are more likely to attend school regularly and have a higher GPA than those who do not participate in afterschool programs.
By improving neighborhood parks, recreation centers, and playgrounds, Rebuild’s investment will help fight health issues such as obesity and other chronic diseases to improve health outcomes for Philadelphians young and old.
According to the National Recreation and Park Association, quality parks and recreation centers have been connected to increased physical activity of nearby residents. Furthermore, a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that in Philadelphia neighborhoods, residents living near recently converted green spaces reported reduced stress levels and increased exercise.
Rebuild’s $500 million investment will create jobs and opportunities for Philadelphia residents. Rebuild is establishing a set of goals to help ensure that Rebuild’s investment creates jobs and economic opportunities for a diverse worker population.
In addition to the construction jobs that will be created for working families, the improved facilities will support critical programming to help residents find work. One-third of library visits each year are Philadelphians seeking assistance to find work.
Finally, investing in neighborhood facilities will not only make the city great for Philadelphians, but it will also attract new visitors and residents that will continue to help grow our economy.