Mayor Jim Kenney just revealed his most meaningful proposal to date, one that could become the signature accomplishment of his first term if he pulls it off. According to PlanPhilly, which first broke the news, Kenney is going to propose selling $300 million in bonds in order to repair Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers and libraries at his budget address next week. He hopes to raise another $200 million for the massive initiative from the state, feds and nonprofit organizations.
This is huge. For comparison’s sake, former Mayor John Street’s defining Neighborhood Transformation Initiative was paid for by a $295 million bond issue passed by City Council. Kenney’s proposal is so large that it could trigger a debate about whether this is the right time to pursue such an investment, given that the School District of Philadelphia and the city’s pension system remain deeply underfunded.
Kenney told PlanPhilly that his goal is to provide the city’s neighborhoods with the parks and rec centers that they deserve.
“When we have a football league in South Philadelphia where we have suburban people come into our communities and look at what our kids have to play with, and then our kids go out to the suburbs and play in pristinely manicured fields, it makes us feel like second-class citizens, and we’re not,” he told the website. “I think this investment will give people in every community a sense of equity and fairness, that we care about them and we value them as citizens.” Read more »