MNC seeks professional and community input on Venice Island recreation plans

With construction on Manayunk’s Lower Venice Island continuing unabated, discussions about design details occupied a good deal of Manayunk Neighborhood Council’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

MNC’s membership – guided by Schuylkill Project Director Kay Sykora – examined plans for the placement of four basketball courts and other outdoor recreation spaces on the island. Of concern to many, including MNC President Kevin Smith, was the location of basketball courts on the island.

As rendered, the courts abut the edge of the island which, as Sykora observed, would necessitate tall fencing that could impact the aesthetic cohesion of the plan. In addition, she pointed to the potential for wayward basketballs to be lost to the river.

Also troubling is the bisection of the court by the island’s concrete underground water storage tank, which Smith noted could result in the compromising of the court’s structural integrity.

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As laid out, he remarked, “These courts aren’t very practical.”

Nothing finalized, Sykora sought the community’s input to help determine what the site “should or shouldn’t be.”

Community input 

Should the four basketball courts be installed, Sykora related that scheduling would be handled by the Manayunk Sport and Social Club.

Responding to concerns about private organizations overseeing public spaces, Sykora replied that this is a typical arrangement for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Concerns were also voiced about the absence of a hockey rink, which exists for some long-time residents as a traditional pairing.

Responding to the desire for hockey facilities, Sykora suggested that tradition needed to be balanced by present demographic realities.

But, in reference to eclecticism of the Manayunk community, one resident summarized various sentiments by saying, “no matter what you put there, it’s going to get used.”

In order to consider plans for basketball, hockey, and other forms of recreation – which currently include both a kiddie spray pool and a theater – Smith suggested the formation of a “working group” to incorporate proposed amenities and amendments to the proposal.

In furtherance of this, Smith also sought the counsel of anyone with recreation design experience, “to give some realistic input,” in his words.

Despite concerns over the design, Sykora reaffirmed the intentions of the project.

“There’s a real desire to accommodate recreational needs,” she said.

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