Connor Barwin

Paint Day at Smith Playground: Learn About Green Improvements and Send Connor Barwin a Message

Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD
Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD

While Philly is mourning the news that Eagles defensive end and super citizen Connor Barwin is headed to another team, his Make the World Better Foundation has pledged to continue its good work and is moving forward on projects the fan-favorite helped to fund.

One of those projects is the renovation of West Passyunk’s Smith Playground, a total overhaul being led by the community, Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit Urban Roots, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and SERVE Philadelphia.
Barwin helped raise $150,000 for the project and then matched that amount, just as he did when helping to fund improvements at the nearby Ralph Brooks Park in 2014.

Improvements at the 7.5-acre Smith Playground will include green upgrades that support the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters program and help to protect local waterways from stormwater pollution.
On top of getting new football and baseball fields, new green stormwater tools, and improvements for the rec center building and adjacent play spaces, this site will feature a Mural Arts installation by artists Kien Nguyen and Katie Yamasaki.

Photos: Green City, Clean Waters Gets Cheers at Smith Celebration

Philadelphia Water joined other City partners and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin in breaking ground on a Smith Recreation Center makeover that includes extensive green stormwater infrastructure. Click to see photos from the event.

Philadelphia Water joined other City partners and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin in breaking ground on a Smith Recreation Center makeover that includes extensive green stormwater infrastructure. Click the image above to see more photos from the event.

You might think it’d be hard for green stormwater infrastructure to get much attention when you have a star NFL player (Connor Barwin) talking about fun things like a completely renovated recreation center and the new athletic fields and basketball courts coming to Smith Playground in South Philadelphia.

We Say Goodbye to 2015 (and a Green Champion) on Monday at Smith Playground

Mayor Michael Nutter speaks at the ribbon cutting for Ralph Brooks Park. Philadelphia Water will join Nutter for one last celebration of green infrastructure and community collaboration on Monday, December 28. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Mayor Michael Nutter speaks at the ribbon cutting for Ralph Brooks Park in August. Philadelphia Water will join Nutter for one last celebration of green infrastructure and community collaboration on Monday, December 28. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

We’re joining Parks and Recreation and closing out 2015 with a ground breaking celebration for a big, very cool project: the revamp of Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson streets in South Philadelphia.

As the second playground project chosen by Urban Roots and the Make the World Better foundation, Smith Playground will get a full, $2.5 million makeover in the coming months. It follows in the footsteps of the popular Ralph Brooks Park project, where a similar collaboration led to a full renovation that wrapped up this summer.

New and Improved Ralph Brooks Park Manages Stormwater with Green Tools

Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that will hold stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that holds stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

After three years of fundraising, planning, design, and construction, the Point Breeze community officially welcomed a tremendously improved Ralph Brooks Park at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The project was made possible through the collaboration of several city and state agencies, Pa. State Representative Jordan Harris, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the non-profit groups Urban Roots, Mural Arts, PHS, Philly Rising, 25th Century Foundation, Tasker Street Baptist Church and the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB), founded by Philadelphia Eagles player Connor Barwin.

That broad coalition allowed for a complete renovation of this public space, with improvements covering everything from new playground equipment and basketball courts to a community garden and green stormwater features that add to Philadelphia Water’s Green City, Clean Waters infrastructure.

The stormwater features include a rain garden at the southern end of the park, and an underground storage trench beneath the basketball courts along the western edge of the park. Combined, those green tools can manage over 16,000 gallons of stormwater—it would take 320 homes with rain barrels to store that much stormwater runoff—and the trees, shrubs and other plants add to the beauty of Ralph Brooks Park. While the ribbon cutting featured plants donated by Bartram’s Garden, the actual vegetation for the site will be planted in October, which will give the plants a better chance to become established and thrive.

“This partnership demonstrates that green infrastructure projects can manage stormwater and enhance community efforts to improve and beautify public spaces,” Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug said of the project.

More: See Photos From the Ralph Brooks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Other speakers at the event included Mayor Nutter and Barwin, who raised $170,000 for the project through a benefit concert. Philadelphia Water contributed approximately $152,000 to the project.

The Ralph Brooks renovations are part of Green City, Clean Waters’ Green Parks program, which works with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to leverage resources for park improvements and bring green stormwater tools to park sites.

Philadelphia Water is also working with partners from the Ralph Brooks project to bring similar improvements to Smith Playground in the West Passyunk neighborhood. Green infrastructure improvements at Smith are scheduled to begin construction next summer.

Greening Smith: What We're Doing with Eagles' Connor Barwin

Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagels speaks at the 2nd annual MTWB Foundation concert.
Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks at the 2nd annual MTWB Foundation concert.

Philadelphia Water selected West Passyunk’s Smith Playground for Green City, Clean Waters improvements way back in 2012. While we were busy doing community outreach and design for the popular 7.5-acre recreation area, located at 25th Street and Snyder Avenue, we also happened to develop a great relationship with Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and his Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB).

That led to our working together to rebuild the Ralph Brooks Park in nearby Point Breeze, which is currently under construction. When finished, the park will have new basketball courts, new play equipment, sidewalk improvements, tree plantings and a rain garden to manage stormwater runoff from the site.

It’s been such a hit, MTWB decided to bring the synergy that made Ralph Brooks Park a success to Smith, where we were already laying the ground for green stormwater improvements. Barwin held his second MTWB fundraising concert at Union Transfer in June, and generous giving resulted in $300,000 for Smith improvements. Tickets for the sold-out show made up over $150,000 of that, and Barwin matched the sales for the rest.

From MTWB:

Revitalization of South Philadelphia’s Smith Playground will provide major improvements to the 7.5-acre park including the Recreation Center building and adjacent play spaces, new football and baseball fields and the installation of Green Stormwater Infrastructure by the Philadelphia Water Department. Key partners on the project include Urban Roots, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and Philly Rising.

So, what will our work bring to the Smith renovations? We’re contributing an estimated $500,000 to install four green stormwater tools at the site.
They include:

• A  basin beneath the soccer field at the southwest side of the park

• A basin beneath the sidewalk on the west side of the park

• A rain garden between the sidewalk and the basketball courts

• A rain garden on a paved area at the corner of 25th and Snyder

Besides enhancing the beauty of the site, these improvements will capture the equivalent of 2 SEPTA buses of water almost every time it rains—water that would otherwise be rushing into local sewers and waterways. The stormwater tools will mostly handle runoff coming from 25th Street, with a total of 1.66 acres of hard, impervious surface draining into the basins and rain gardens, where it will slowly filter into the earth and water table. That means less local flooding during rain events and healthier local waterways.

"I want to thank Union Transfer, the musicians and sponsors for another year of unwavering support," Barwin said after the concert. "Not only did we aim to put on an entertaining show for fans, but all proceeds will go towards transforming South Philly’s Smith Playground into a safe and enjoyable place for the community. I am humbled to live in a city that is filled with so many people who want to make their neighborhood, and the world, a better place to live, to grow and to learn."

We’re proud to be working with Barwin, MTWB, Urban Roots, Parks and Recreation and all the other partners, and we’re blown away at the generosity of everyone who contributed to make this public space better for all the West Passyunk residents who use the space and live near Smith.

Our green infrastructure construction at Smith is set to begin during summer 2016 and will take 4-6 months to complete, so stay tuned for more updates!

Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking Rescheduled... Again

RESCHEDULED
The Ralph Brooks Groubdbreaking event will take place today!
Please join Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin, Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Urban Roots, and more as we kick off this fantastic project. 

WHAT: Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking
WHEN: Monday, December 22, 2014 at 2:30 PM
WHERE: Ralph Brooks Park, 20th and Tasker Streets

To learn more about the project, check out our earlier blog post.
A flyer for this event can be downloaded here.

Rendering of Ralph Brooks Park  

Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking Rescheduled

RESCHEDULED!
We are pleased to announce the new date for the Ralph Brooks Groubdbreaking.

WHAT: Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking
WHEN: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 2:30 PM
WHERE: Ralph Brooks Park, 20th and Tasker Streets

Rendering of Ralph Brooks Park

Please join Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin, Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, State Representative Jordan Harris, PWD Deputy Commissioner Chris Crockett and other partners as we break ground on a revitalization project for Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. 

Ralph Brooks Tot Lot, a small playground with basketball courts and a play area for children, was named after a seven year old boy who was shot and paralyzed at the site in 1988. The shooting galvanized the community and the park has carried his name as a symbol against violence ever since. The park, now over 25 years old, has seen better days...and soon it will again.

After years of hard work, fundraising and collaboration, multiple partners have joined forces to revitalize Ralph Brooks Park. Tuesday will be the groundbreaking for the first phase of the project, which will include new basketball courts, new play equipment, sidewalk improvements, tree plantings and a rain garden which will manage stormwater runoff from the site.

PWD is proud to be involved with multiple partners working on this project:

To download a .pdf flyer for this groundbreaking event, click here.

Break Ground at Ralph Brooks Park with Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin

Please join Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin, Deputy Mayor Michael DeBerardinis, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and PWD Deputy Commissioner Chris Crockett for...

WHAT: Ralph Brooks Groundbreaking
WHEN: Monday, November 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM
WHERE: Ralph Brooks Park, 20th and Tasker Streets


Ralph Brooks Tot Lot, a small playground in Point Breeze with basketball courts and a play area for children, was named after a seven year old boy who was shot and paralyzed at the site in 1988. The shooting galvanized the community and the park has carried his name as a symbol against violence ever since. The park, now over 25 years old, has seen better days...and soon it will again.

After years of hard work, fundraising and collaboration, multiple partners have joined forces to revitalize Ralph Brooks Park. Monday will be the groundbreaking for the first phase of the project, which will include new basketball courts, new play equipment, sidewalk improvements, tree plantings, and a rain garden which will manage stormwater runoff from the site.

To learn more about the project and how Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin is involved, check out this video, Connor Barwin As Green As It Gets.

PWD is proud to be involved with a host of partners working on this project including:

To download a .pdf flyer for this groundbreaking event, click here.

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