Security cameras to be installed at 162 city playgrounds and rec centers

 Simons Recreation Center in Germantown. (Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks)

Simons Recreation Center in Germantown. (Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks)

Surveillance cameras, along with other equipment designed to promote safety, are scheduled to be installed at more than a dozen recreation centers and playgrounds in Northwest Philadelphia as part of a new City Council-funded program.

The multi-million dollar initiative, to be formally announced Wednesday, follows last summer’s spate of violent incidents at city parks and recreation centers.

The spree included several shootings and a rape.

“We need reliably safe places for young people to congregate and this is just another step,” said Joseph Corrigan, spokesperson for Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who chairs Council’s Committee on Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs.

It’s hoped that the cameras will deter crime. In the case of an incident, surveillance footage will be made available to the Philadelphia Police Department.

The program will also pay for a noise-emitting device that produces a high-frequency sound meant to deter loiterers at night. The noise can apparently only be heard by those ages 13 to 25.

The program targets a total of 162 recreation centers and playgrounds across the city.

The names of the recreation centers and playgrounds that will be part of the program will not be released, said Corrigan.

Each location is expected to be equipped with four to eight cameras depending on the size of a particular center or playground.

It will cost between $18,500 and $35,000 to equip each center, depending on the size of the site.

Sixteen recreation centers and playgrounds in the Eighth District, which covers Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown and parts of West Oak Lane, are on the list.

A dozen locations in the Ninth Councilmanic District, which includes parts of West Oak Lane, are also part of the program.

All 10 district councilmembers have agreed to devote an average of $120,000 per year to the program over the next three years.

The funds will come from capital dollars designated to each office each fiscal year for recreation centers, playgrounds and parks. Each councilmember typically receives just under $800,000 each fiscal year.

“It’s not an insignificant amount of money,” noted Corrigan.

Elected and city officials will announce the program at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia.

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