Left to right above: Eric Young – Athletic Director, Oak Lane Wildcats; Councilmember Cherelle Parker; Amenah Claiborne – Facility Director, Simons Recreation Center; Clarence Savage – Advisory Council, Simons Recreation Center; State Senator Art Haywood; Kathryn Ott Lovell – Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Sharlene Waller – Chief of Staff, State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, 203rd District; and Gary King – Literacy & Schools Coordinator, Mt. Airy CDC


Teamwork makes the dream work, and a collaborative team of State Senator Art Haywood, 9th District City Councilmember Cherelle Parker, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and Mt. Airy CDC put the dream in motion this week. Senator Haywood presented Simons Recreation Center with a check for $2 million, representative of a grant Mt. Airy CDC applied for last year.

The grant, provided by Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program (RACP), is part of an ongoing $7.9 million renovation at Simons initiated through the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuild program. This particular grant was awarded in Round 1 of 2020 RACP grants and put in motion this summer.

Mt. Airy CDC’s Literacy & Schools Coordinator Gary King, Board President Ashley Via Maass, and Interim Executive Director Sharon Kim join Simons Rec Center Director Amenah Claiborne (second from left) for the check presentation.

These specific funds will be used to modernize the playground and install a brand new track that can be used for running, races, and walking. The overall project at Simons will encompass renovation of the rec center building roof (workers were actually there during the check presentation), and construction of a new multipurpose athletic field, and courts for tennis and handball.

The Simons renovations are the latest in an ongoing partnership with Senator Haywood and Councilmember Parker to recognize the eastern side of Stenton Avenue as part of the Mt. Airy community and ensure that it has access to the same resources the area west of Stenton does. In 2016, Mt. Airy CDC (then Mt. Airy USA) teamed with the Senator and Councilmember, with support from the City Commerce Department and Wells Fargo’s Neighborhood LIFT program, to upgrade the Vernon Road commercial corridor with storefront improvements, big belly trash cans, and banners.

Mt. Airy CDC is proud to work with our elected officials to make meaningful change where it is needed. The Simons Rec Center upgrades will continue, with completion expected in 2022.

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