Fun in the sun

After much anticipation from the community, renovations at Max Myers Playground in Castor Gardens are complete.

Play time: Max Myers playground, 1601 Hellerman St., received more than $300,000 for renovations to its new “safari-themed” playground. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTO

On June 12, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and representatives from City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Rep. Jared Solomon’s office joined members of the community for the ceremonial ribbon cutting and celebration of the renovations to Max Myers playground.

Max Myers, 1601 Hellerman St., received $300,000-plus for renovations to its new “safari-themed” playground.

In October, members of the community congregated at Max Myers for the ceremonial groundbreaking, when they announced the specific plans for the upcoming makeover. Many students from Gilbert Spruance Elementary’s after-school program, grades K-5, were present for the day the announcement was made in the fall and for the ribbon cutting held on their last day of school.

“We gave you a playground on your last day of school,” Lovell said to the groups of students present. “How great is that?”

Lovell, who was raised in Mayfair, had playgrounds closer to her house during her childhood, but spent a significant amount of time at Max Myers while she was growing up.

“Max Myers is special to me,” said Lovell. “We didn’t have a pool at Mayfair, but Max Myers had a really awesome pool.”

Lovell was not the only representative involved in this makeover who had spent many days during their formative years at Max Myers.

Solomon had been influential in the years-long process to bringing the renovations to the playground he calls home.

“From the time I suited up to play third base for the Reds in Pee Wee league, I have a long history playing at and later working in Max Myers,” Solomon stated. “We worked for years bringing neighbors together to bring about these amazing changes. I am so proud that Max Myers has a new playground so it can continue to be a source of fond memories for kids today as it was for me in my childhood.”

This specific project, because of the park’s location, had the unique privilege of two City Council members working together to bring these much-needed renovations.

Just a couple of years ago, the park was located in Henon’s district, but due to boundary changes, it is now in Quinones-Sanchez’s district. With constituents in both members’ districts frequenting the park, they thought it was essential to take this on together.

“We have no shame in asking for money for young people to have great parks,” Quinones-Sanchez said. “Both him (Henon) and I are committed to giving our neighborhoods, our residents, regardless of what side of the street you’re on, the best possible park.”

Henon echoed these sentiments and praised the city’s current “Rebuild initiative” for improving various parks, recreation centers, playgrounds and libraries throughout the whole city.

“Projects like this are an investment in our children, our families and our communities. Rehabilitating our public spaces is a holistic effort to uplift the entire community,” Henon stated. “With the ongoing Rebuild initiative, City Council is making a bold commitment to the children and families of our city. We are investing half a billion dollars building and rebuilding spaces like this because we are determined to support the well-being of every child in Philadelphia.”

After the ribbon cutting, the area was filled with children of all ages playing on the new safari-themed playground and celebrating the end of their school year.

“This might be the best playground I’ve ever seen for $300,000,” said Lovell. “It’s wonderful to see it come back to life.” ••