Plan Philly broke the news today that Mayor Jim Kenney has an ambitious plan to invest $500 million on public spaces, recreation centers and new infrastructure.

The plan, according to the mayor, “will give people in every community a sense of equity and fairness, that we care about them and we value them as citizens.”

How’s he plan to do it? The investment will largely involve funding from state and federal sources, philanthropic efforts, planning funded by the William Penn and Knight Foundations – in addition to $300 million in bonds from the city, the first time a mayor has proposed something on this scale in more than a decade. According to Plan Philly:

The last time a mayor announced a major bond sale to fund a new program, it was John Street in 2001, announcing his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, which was meant to improve communities by tearing down vacant houses, removing abandoned cars, and assembling land for future development. City Council eventually approved a $295 million bond issue for the initiative. Prior to that, the city issued bonds to help build the new stadiums at the sports complex in South Philadelphia.

The hope is that an investment like this can help bring good public amenities to all of our neighborhoods. Due to a lack of funding, many of our parks remain uncared for. For his part, Kenney says it’s imperative our children and other park-users not feel like second-class citizens.

While the funding from the William Penn Foundation and the Knight Foundation seems ready to go, City Council will need to approve the sale of the bonds before that can go through.

Bobby Henon said in the PlanPhilly article that this as an opportunity for partnership between the district council members and the Mayor’s office.

Just over the last three years, we’ve seen huge renovations at Dilworth and Love Parks in Center City. It’s time our officials make that same sort of investment in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods—and we’re happy to see our new mayor is ready to make that a priority.

-Travis Southard

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