Two Philly Parks Win National Grants Backed by Walt Disney Company

Glavin Playground and Pennypack Environmental Center will see improvements in the near future.

The seals at Glavin Park | Photo: Patty-Pat Kozlowski

The seals at Glavin Park | Photo: Patty-Pat Kozlowski

Expect to see some much-needed improvements at two Philadelphia city parks in the near future. Glavin Playground and Pennypack Environmental Center will each receive a $20,000 grant after being selected as the winners of the Parks Build Community campaign through the National Recreation and Park Association. According to a press release, the initiative helps to reviatlize and restore parks and park programs across the country and was sponsored by The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Citizenship, Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN.

Kathleen Muller from Parks and Recreation explained that there were three city parks up for a public voting process on NRPA’s website, largely promoted through social media: Glavin Playground, Pennypack Environmental Center and Martin Luther King Recreation Center at 22nd and Cecil B. Moore. “The citizens are really the ones who took to social media and voted for the projects.” So much so, in fact, that Muller said Glavin was the top vote-getter in the entire nation. Pennypack had such a following that it became the national write-in winner. “We captured their attention nationally,” beamed Muller.

As for the improvements, Muller explained that Glavin is on an aggressive schedule to complete the work, stating it must be completed by August 31. “We are really hitting the ground running on that one.” The goal will be to create more green space at the park that’s tucked away on the corned of Westmoreland Street and Almond Street in Port Richmond. Simply known as “AW” due to its location, Patty-Pat Kozlowski, also of Parks and Recreation, helped make the push for Glavin. “As a Port Richmond native, I put out the battlecry for our community to vote for Glavin. Every morning I would email and Facebook people to get on [the website] and vote.” Kozlowski even took it one step further: “I put out a dare that if Glavin won, I would plant a big one on the seals.”

Smaller shade trees and raised beds will be introduced to the space, which eventually be used for some sort of gardening program. Muller said they’re also developing nature-inspired play pieces for the kids. Benches will round out the improvements to the park. (Side note: You’ll still be able to cool off in front of the iconic water spraying circus seals at the park.)

Different changes are on the way at Pennypack Environmental Center, which is set in Pennypack Park not too far from Fox Chase Farm in the Northeast. Muller said the picnic area will be made more accessible to handicapped visitors, including the seating options. The center is a popular outdoor and bird-watching destination that caters its programs to a wide range of youth, though PEC’s Stephanie Robinson said they have public programming for people from “ages 1 to 100.” PEC will also get similar nature-inspired play pieces and site-specific programming. That project will probably be completed by the fall.

Muller said there was “so much energy and excitement around [the voting]” that they are looking to find ways to leverage internal resources to give all three sites, including Martin Luther King, some sort of improvement. Raised beds are being planned at the rec center at 22nd and Cecil B. Moore for after school kids to learn about gardening and healthy eating practices.