PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Kenney administration, Thursday, gave city council its ambitious, $500 million “Rebuild” plan to rehab city facilities, listing 61 parks, rec centers, playgrounds and libraries whose renovation the city hopes to fund by June of 2019.
The list was painstakingly assembled, focusing on neighborhoods with a high need for investment, where it’s most likely to have a stabilizing or revitalizing affect or where the condition of the facility is so poor, it overrides the other factors.
Rebuild director Nicole Westerman says her office mapped data on poverty, drug offenses, health risks, market value, household growth and building permits, along with input from city council and administration staff.
“All of this was used to complement other kinds of information like where these sites are close to other civic assets, where have they already been identified as a priority in other planning processes,” she says.
Such care was necessary, she says, because there are 400 city facilities, 90 percent of which need repairs and the seven-year Rebuild program will get to, at most, half of them.
“We have to make some tough decisions,” she says.
Councilman Curtis Jones applauded the effort.
“We’ve done for so long with so little that this seems like a whole lot,” he says, though he adds, “People are going to argue, this should come before that but, hopefully, those with greatest need go first.”
His own district would present such a case.
“In a part of my district, I have seven schools within a mile and half of them have football teams, most of them have track teams and there is no field.”
Carroll Park, Parkside Fields and the Al Pearlman Sports Complex, in Jones’ district, are on the list of first year projects.
Westerman says it’s unlikely the city will get to all 61 sites but having a comprehensive list means if one gets knocked off by logistical problems, another is waiting to take its place.
“We just want to make sure we can keep projects moving as quickly as we can,” she says.
All of this, though, is contingent on the city winning the soda industry suit against the one-and-a-half cent an ounce beverage tax. Rebuild will be paid for through a bond issue and the city is counting on beverage tax revenue to fund the debt service.
So, while theoretically, Rebuild could begin as soon as council acts on the report, the city will not issue the bonds while the suit is pending. Two lower courts have upheld the tax. The state Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear the industry’s appeal.
Westerman says the city has about 10-Million dollars to get rolling and it would start on some smaller projects with that.
The report also lays out an Economic Opportunity Plan to insure diversity in hiring and create more jobs for traditionally disadvantaged groups in the construction trades.