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August 25, 2016

Philly's new 'Inclusive Parks & Playgrounds' law ensures accessible recreation

Mayor Kenney signs bill as city prepares for $300 million citywide investment

Parks and Recreation Development
082516_WisterPlayground Philadelphia Parks & Recreation /File

Children play on Wister Playground at 4953 Baynton St. in Germantown.

As Philadelphia prepares a comprehensive plan to revitalize parks and playgrounds across the city, a new law signed Wednesday by Mayor Jim Kenney will ensure that pending improvements create an accessible environment for people of all ages and abilities.

The "Inclusive Parks & Playgrounds" bill, signed at Wister Playground in Germantown, stipulates that all redesigned or renovated parks provide intergenerational and family-friendly amenities.

“This bill could not have come at a better time,” Mayor Kenney said. “Very soon, we’ll be investing $300 million in parks and recreation centers across the city, thanks to Rebuild and the sweetened beverage tax. This bill will help to ensure that investment creates parks and recreation facilities that are accessible for all.”

In March, PhillyVoice examined the unsanitary and neglected state of parks throughout Philadelphia, from cracked and dented basketball courts to damaged playground matting and dysfunctional restroom facilities. When the City Council approved the hotly debated soda tax in June, the path was opened to fund parks investments, community schools and universal pre-kindergarten.

Under the "Inclusive Parks & Playgrounds" bill, play areas will be required for children with Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, those who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or blind, those who have low hearing or vision, and children in wheelchairs. Fitness equipment will also be required to accommodate adults with varying fitness levels and disabilities.

“Nothing is more rewarding than ensuring our parks and recreation centers are accessible to all Philadelphians,” said Kathyrn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. “Wister is a great example of how every park in the city should be. Every neighborhood and every person deserves a fun and safe place to engage in physical and social opportunities.”