Ready to dig in

Max Myers Playground will receive $306,000 toward building a new ‘safari-themed’ playground.

Play time: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell joins City Council members Bobby Henon and Maria Quinones-Sanchez and state Rep. Jared Solomon for the ceremonial groundbreaking at Max Myers Playground on Oct. 23. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTOS

On Oct. 23, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, City Council members Bobby Henon and Maria Quinones-Sanchez and state Rep. Jared Solomon joined members of the community for the ceremonial groundbreaking at Max Myers Playground.

The playground, located at the corner of Magee Avenue and Oakland Street, will be receiving $306,000 that will go toward building a new “safari-themed” playground.

The effort to renovate this playground took years of planning, Henon said.

“This is years in the making with community involvement, neighborhoods groups and the safety of our kids,” Henon said. “Now there’s a plan, in a couple months we’re going to have a new safari-themed investment, a safe place where our community can grow.”

Lovell stated that Max Myers in recent years had “fallen into disrepair” and recalled that this playground had seen better days.

“I grew up in this neighborhood, just a few blocks from here, and I remember this was the place to come,” she said. “Max Myers, when I was growing up, was like the nicest playground in the area.”

Solomon grew up in the neighborhood as well and has been active in getting Max Myers redone. Solomon recalled his days playing Little League baseball on the fields there, including the fond memories of playing in the all-star game.

“This playground means everything to me.”

Henon, Solomon, and Lovell fondly recall spending much of their formative years at this playground, and those growing up today in the area hope to recapture this sense of pride in their neighborhood hangout.

One of those who has been vocal in this effort is Angela Smith, a 14-year-old lifelong resident of Lower Mayfair.

Angela Smith, a 14-year-old who started a petition to “Fix The Max Myers Playground” in 2014, spoke during the ceremonial groundbreaking at Max Myers Playground.

“Max Myers never really was a playground to remember,” she said.

In the spring of 2014, she started a petition to “Fix The Max Myers Playground.”

“It has been my dream since I first visited Max Myers for children to have a safe environment where they felt more than welcomed to fulfill their desires to maintain fitness and still having fun as children should,” she said.

With the $306,000 investment on the way, there is optimism that Max Myers will once again reach its potential as a destination playground in the Northeast.

Quinones-Sanchez, whose district now encompasses Max Myers (a couple of years ago, it was in Henon’s district), spoke about how this playground will stand out among others.

“Max Myers, I call it the country club, because it has a great pool, it has all these great amenities,” she said. “That’s why when we did the project with mural arts we wanted, it’s about branding the park and figuring out how do you embrace the culture of diversity that now exists.”

The effort to get funding for this specific playground was a unique effort, Henon said.

“The investment is unique because you have two district Council members who are committing to putting up resources, over $300,000, for this kind of investment,” he said. “This investment into the growing community, I think is what made the councilwoman and myself without a blink of an eye putting our resources up.”

Students from Gilbert Spruance Elementary School, located right across the street from Max Myers, who were in attendance for this ceremony were excited to hear of the new playground and that the historic giraffe will remain at the playground.

Expected completion for this project is spring 2018. ••

John Cole can be reached at jcole@bsmphilly.com