Pennypack Street playground plans on hold for now

Stan Cywinski needed to act quickly. When the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association president received a call from KaBOOM!, the playground-building organization told Cywinski if the neighborhood wanted a new playground, a decision had to be made — and soon.

With a Friday deadline, Cywinski made the matter a top priority at Thursday’s UHCA meeting.

KaBOOM! had reached out to the UHCA to offer to help build a playground, like the organization has done in many cities. Citing the progress with KaBOOM! at the Mayfair Memorial Playground, Cywinski thought the opportunity seemed like a good one, and he had just the spot: the unused space on the 4300-block of Pennypack Street at Frankford Avenue.

But the residents had already discussed other uses for this space at previous meetings with the City Planning Commission, so Cywinski decided if the property is going to have a playground, it should be the “membership’s call.”

UHCA members had a lot of questions at Thursday’s meeting, for which a KaBOOM! representative was not present. Cywinski was able to answer most:

the playground would be about 50×50 feet, leaving space open for other plans the members had discussed, like a community garden

  • KaBOOM! does not restore existing playgrounds, it builds from scratch, making the lot at Pennypack Street the ideal spot
  • the UHCA would need to provide about $8,500 and 100 volunteers. KaBOOM! would do the rest
  • the UHCA would help the city maintain the property. the city would be responsible for things like cutting the grass
  • because KaBOOm! only builds playgrounds, Cywinski wasn’t sure if and how additional lighting could be added

With these things in mind, members informally decided against building the playground.

“We’ll pass this round,” Cywinski said, after several people at the meeting worried the property — which already draws rowdy kids to neighboring yards — would attract an unruly crowd.

Cywinski was charged with telling KaBOOM! Friday the UHCA would pass on the offer. KaBOOM! is currently examining other possible build sites in the city, and only if one does not present itself will the UHCA get a chance to build at Pennypack Street. Cywinski said he plans to tell KaBOOM! the idea is only temporarily off the table.

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