Simons Rec receives $2 mil state grant

by Walt Maguire
Posted 10/27/21

Simons Recreation Cente received a $2 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) in 2020 to complete the Simons' Outdoor Renovation Project.  The check was officially presented Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021.

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Simons Rec receives $2 mil state grant

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On Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) joined Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, for a check presentation and press conference.  Simons Recreation Center, 7200 Woolston Ave., received a $2 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) in 2020 to complete the Simons' Outdoor Renovation Project.  Senator Haywood presented the ceremonial check to Amenah Claiborne, Facility Director at Simons Recreation Center, in the multipurpose room. 

The Outdoor Renovation Project is a two-fold endeavor, including renovations and new construction.  The renovation component involves work on the existing recreation center building, specifically exterior improvements on the roof.  Renovations will be funded by Philadelphia Rebuild, a City of Philadelphia multimillion dollar program that renovates recreation centers, parks, and libraries.  The office of Councilmember L. Parker  (D-Philadelphia) helped Simons to secure the funding.  

Simons has an ice rink, two basketball courts, two sports fields, four ballfields and seven tennis courts on approximately 13 acres. Rep. Haywood stressed the activities at the center, such as senior clubs, community groups, and a summer reading program for younger children. “This is the largest state grant in my district for this purpose,” said Haywood. The construction component of the project includes a new play area, track, multi-use athletic field, handball court, and tennis courts. “What I’ve learned from Councilwoman Parker is that these rec centers are a fundamental source for young people to build character, to build discipline, on these sports fields. To have an opportunity to see that they can become more than what they see in their everyday lives.”

Councilmember Parker noted the involvement of her colleagues at the state level, calling it “an inter-governmental model to demonstrate that when we’re trying to make complex infrastructure improvements in a cash-strapped city, the city can’t do it alone.”

Ott Lovell noted that the grant was in addition to funding Councilmember Parker had already obtained for the roof work. “It’s an amazing day for Simons,” she said. “It’s an amazing day for this community.”

Simons has started roof renovations and the center will announce construction dates soon.  The grant was approved in late 2020, but time was needed to make construction arrangements.

Administered by the Office of the Budget, RACP is a Commonwealth grant program that supports regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.

Speakers included Councilmember Cherelle L. Parker); Sharlene Waller, Chief of Staff for State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald (D-Philadelphia); Clarence Savage, Advisory Council President at Simons Recreation Center; Gary King, Literacy and Schools Coordinator at Mt. Airy CDC; Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; and Eric Young, Athletic Director of the Oak Lane Wildcats. 

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