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City Council passes Rebuild bill to improve Philly’s rec centers, libraries

“Philadelphians lose their sense of community, just a little, when they can’t use their recreation center or library”

City Council has passed a bill to allow work to begin on Mayor Jim Kenney’s $500 million Rebuild program.
Courtesy of the City of Philadelphia

Before City Council headed out for its summer break, on Thursday it voted 16-1 in approval of the Rebuild ordinance that will allow the city to borrow $300 million from the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) to start renovating and improving Philly’s playgrounds, recreation centers, and libraries.

Bill No. 170206 was expected to pass after it cleared the council’s Committee on the Whole’s desk last week.

Rebuild is a $500 million endeavor set forth by Mayor Jim Kenney that aims to make improvements to Philly’s 400-plus libraries, recreation centers, and playgrounds, many of which are in terrible shape.

“I’ve been to dozens of recreation centers and libraries over my life in public service. Those spaces are more than just buildings or structures,” Kenney said in a statement after the ordinance passed. “They are safe havens for kids, places where they can play sports or participate in summer camp. [...] They can’t do those things if the roof leaks or if there is no heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer.”

He continued, “Philadelphians lose their sense of community, just a little, when they can’t use their recreation center or library.”

With the City Council passage, Kenney said he intends to sign the bill soon as it hits his desk. When that happens, the city can begin a competitive RFQ process to select what entities will help deliver Rebuild projects. As part of the bill, selected contractors will be required to meet certain minority and women participation rates and hire a percentage of local workers.

The City has said it will also move forward on Rebuild using the existing funds it does have this summer.