PlanPhilly

Shissler Rec Center opens new sprayground

    • A new
      A new "sprayground" opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
    • A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
      A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
    • A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
      A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
    • A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
      A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
    • A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
      A new sprayground opened at the Shissler Rec Center Thursday
    • Kids splashed in the new Shissler Rec Center sprayground plant feature
      Kids splashed in the new Shissler Rec Center sprayground plant feature
    • The sprayground is part of a Mural Arts Program initiative to enhance Shissler Rec Center
      The sprayground is part of a Mural Arts Program initiative to enhance Shissler Rec Center
    • The Mural Arts initiative aims to connect the rec center to neighboring parks and the Delaware River
      The Mural Arts initiative aims to connect the rec center to neighboring parks and the Delaware River
    • Project leaders got ready to cut the ribbon before the sprayground dedication
      Project leaders got ready to cut the ribbon before the sprayground dedication
    • The sprayground backs up to a stormwater management trench installed by the Philadelphia Water Department
      The sprayground backs up to a stormwater management trench installed by the Philadelphia Water Department
    • The sprayground backs up to a stormwater management trench installed by the Philadelphia Water Department
      The sprayground backs up to a stormwater management trench installed by the Philadelphia Water Department
    • The sprayground adds to Shissler Rec Center's already popular playground
      The sprayground adds to Shissler Rec Center's already popular playground
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Shissler Rec Center opened its new "sprayground" Thursday and the preschool students who graduated just before the fountains turned on, along with their friends and family, took to it immediately. Within minutes kids were running and shrieking through the water and splashing in the sprayground's plant feature. Exactly what project leaders hoped for.

The sprayground is part of the Mural Arts program's Restored Spaces Initiative and part of the Shissler Greenway and Impressions of the Delaware series within that initiative. It is the result of tremendous collaboration and years of brainstorming just what to do with the previously vacant space to the side of the Shissler Rec Center. 

To date, the Mural Arts series added colorful murals and and community-produced art to the rec center's exterior walls, nearby sidewalks, planters and, now, the sprayground. All of these elements aim to show the inextricable relationship between the river and the neighborhood, and the sprayground serves as yet another interpretation of this "Take Me to the River" theme. 

"For us it's a new and innovative way for the kids to play and also learn about where their water comes from and where it goes," said Edward Fagan, Jr., director of grants and special initiatives at the Department of Parks and Recreation. 

The department is one of many partners who have contributed to the sprayground and other area improvements, and Fagan said the sprayground in particular is a great example of a project that combines both park and recreation elements. 

The sprayground did not come without bureaucratic, ownership, water issue and other strings attached, but seeing so many kids run and play in the splash pad, Mural Arts Project Manager Shari Hersh said, "It made me feel like it was all worth it."

BIG GREEN BLOCK

    • The Big Green Block initiative has created an art-filled greenspace to connect the Shissler Rec Center through neighborhood parks to the Delaware River
      The Big Green Block initiative has created an art-filled greenspace to connect the Shissler Rec Center through neighborhood parks to the Delaware River
    • Part of the Big Green Block, stormwater trenches gather runoff from three streets and a parking lot near the Shissler Rec Center
      Part of the Big Green Block, stormwater trenches gather runoff from three streets and a parking lot near the Shissler Rec Center
    • The Big Green Block project created a small
      The Big Green Block project created a small "tot field" for the neighborhood's youngest kids
    • This June a dog park will open as part of the Big Green Block project
      This June a dog park will open as part of the Big Green Block project
    • For the first time in at least 40 years, developers are choosing to face Blair Street, home of the Big Green Block
      For the first time in at least 40 years, developers are choosing to face Blair Street, home of the Big Green Block
    • Up next, the Shissler Rec Center basketball court will be repaved and a stormwater management system will be installed beneath the pavement
      Up next, the Shissler Rec Center basketball court will be repaved and a stormwater management system will be installed beneath the pavement
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The sprayground and its Shissler Greenway and Impressions of the Delaware parent project are part of an even larger collaborative effort, the Big Green Block, which has set out to turn the Shissler Rec Center and surrounding area into the biggest, greenest block in the country. In doing so, the Big Green Block is creating a green passageway from Shissler Rec Center to neighborhood parks and on to the Delaware River. 

Working on 14-acres of space, the Big Green Block so far includes stormwater trenches that gather water from Blair Street and a parking lot outside of the rec center, a large greenspace that connects the rec center with neighboring Palmer Park, a small field for toddlers, an art filled corridor to connect the neighborhood to the river and, most recently, this sprayground. 

In June the Big Green Block partners will open a dog park at the corner of Blair and Palmer streets, and construction will begin on the Shissler Rec Center basketball court. The court will be repaved and a stormwater management system for the rec center will be installed beneath the pavement. 

Groups ranging from the New Kensington CDC (NKCDC), Philadelphia Water Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, Sustainable 19125, the Mural Arts Program are among those who have contributed. 

"In my mind, this is one of the greatest public-private collaborations," said Shanta Schachter, NKCDC deputy director. 

The impact is evident. In addition to the new, green features, NKCDC Executive Director Sandy Salzman said that for the first time in at least 40 years, developers have started to build properties that face Blair Street, a street that was once exclusively used as garage access and littered with trash and debris. 


About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

From 2012-2014 Christine covered transportation, writing about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments sent her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covered community news for Eyes on the Street, where her work ranged from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. 



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