Two major park revitalization projects moving forward in South Philly

Back in December ground was broken for the revitalization of Ralph Brooks Tot Lot at 20th and Tasker. That revitalization project expanded from just fixing pieces of Ralph Brooks Park to a full-on revitalization project, expected to be completed by August.


In addition to the work being finished up at Ralph Brooks Park, Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson is also being slated for a revitalization by the same people behind the Ralph Brooks Park project.

Eagles linebacker, Connor Barwin, and his foundation, The Make the World Better Project, have been working with the Urban Roots Foundation and the Philadelphia Water Department on this project.

More on the Ralph Brooks Park revitalization from PhillyMag:

Like most transformative projects, it has evolved over time. Tubbs said they have now cobbled together seven parcels (from various city agencies) that are directly connected or adjacent to the park in an effort to bring the neighborhood together at this new community hub. They’ve partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) to bring a community gardening and urban farming element into the fold inside these spaces. Tubbs confirmed they are also working with the Mural Arts Program and have approvals to create “4 or 5” vibrant murals that surround the park, including at least one by artist Steve “ESPO” Powers. Neighborhood stewardship is vital for this project, Tubbs said they’re working to develop a Friends of Ralph Brooks Park, as well as a Gardens Leaders group with the help of PHS in order to maintain the gardens.

They’re also hoping to add an Indego bike share station to the park.

Since things have gone so well with the Ralph Brooks Park project, the Make The World Better Project and Urban Roots Foundation will be starting another park revitalization, this time at Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson.

More on the Smith Playground project from PhillyMag:

Whereas the environs at Ralph Brooks Park are packed in and in need of an expansion to create that sense of place, Smith Playground is an 7.5-acre Parks and Recreation site filled with football and baseball fields, basketball and handball courts and a rec center, all in desperate need of repair.

As such, structures with solar panels will shade the basketball courts, a state-of-the-art surface will don the reinvigorated football field and a fitness trail will be introduced to the site. And how about that rundown rec center? It’s getting remodeled as well and currently in the design phase. Tubbs said it will allow Parks and Recreation to double the amount of programming offered at Smith.

Plans for revitalization also include the promotion of healthier lifestyles to keep kids active. They plan to build a kitchen for cooking and nutritional education.

Funding will be the major setback for this project. So far the project has commitments from stakeholders including Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s office, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philly Rising and Parks and Recreation.

Last year Barwin held a benefit concert at Union Transfer, which raised $185,000 for the Ralph Brooks Park project. He’s holding another benefit concert, with Mac DeMarco and Parquet Courts, on June 20 at Union Transfer to raise money for the Smith Playground project. You can find out more about the event here.