Mayfair: A Neighborhood’s Hope for its Children

Empty tables sit inside the dilapidated Mayfair Memorial Park.]

The Mayfair Memorial Park – chained shut, empty and littered – doesn’t appear to be anything more than the reputation it has in Mayfair – a place for teenagers to get into trouble.

Empty tables sit inside the dilapidated Mayfair Memorial Park.

The Mayfair Civic Association hopes to transform the small park, dedicated to fallen firefighter John Redmond, into a family playground. One major obstacle, the $50,000 price tag for new equipment, stands in the association’s way.
“Right now we’re at $2,500,” said Joe DeFelice, president of the civic association. “We need to get to $50,000. You’d be surprised how much playground equipment costs.”

The old equipment was torn out by the Philadelphia School District, which owns the land the playground sits on. The park, located at Vista Street and Rowland Avenue sits east of the now-shuttered Lincoln High School.

DeFelice and Mayfair residents said there were liability issues with the park, which led the school to shut it down. “There were issues with matting. Some of the equipment seemed to still be in good shape, but they decided to tear it out, I guess, rather than result in a liability,” DeFelice said.

“If they run it correctly, I think it’d be a good thing,” said Leo Casey, a 63-year-old Mayfair resident. “It’s going to give the kids an activity to go to.”

President of the Mayfair Civic Association Joe DeFelice

There’s no shortage of demand for children’s activities in Mayfair, where students pack SEPTA buses each weekday afternoon. The park is a potential outlet, but the process of bringing back the playground is an issue in itself.
The land is owned by the School District, but the Mayfair Civic Association has agreed to raise the money for the equipment, which will then be maintained by the district, which also will take on the legal liability of children hurting themselves.
The latter piece of the deal is particularly relevant, as the playground’s downfall – liability issues – was brought to the district’s attention after a young girl fell and hurt herself, DeFelice and others said.

Leo Casey has lived in Mayfair for six years.

The future may be brighter for Mayfair Memorial Playground, especially if the Civic Association can snag several crucial grants. DeFelice has been in talks with The Home Depot about a possible $5,000 grant for store credit. Another possible source of funding is KaBOOM!, a playground funding and advocacy organization, which has several grants for neighborhood associations trying to rebuild their public spaces.

Barring those grants, though, the park’s rebirth depends on the contributions of residents and businesses in Mayfair, where the benefit of a playground is facing a daunting price tag.

1 Comment

  1. I have an idea of how to get some equipment. If you look around the neighborhood, many of the houses with children have jungle gyms and all kinds of plastic play equipment on their front lawns. If we could get some of the owners whose children have outgrown the equipment or just don’t use it anymore to donate it that could help. I understand the equipment that the MCA is looking for is much more sturdy and permanent, but this could be a start. If people see life coming back to the playground they may be more inclined to help improve it. Another way to raise funds could be through the hundreds of people who walk by the playground almost every day (not so much when it rains or is cold). Each day many people walk around this section of Pennypack Park from Rowland Ave to Lexington Ave by way of either Rhawn St or Ryan Ave. This is particularly true on summer evenings. If we could get some youngsters to ask them for donations or sponsorships in order to improve the playground I am sure people who see the park regularly would be gracious enough to help. Not to mention if they help pay for the equipment, they would feel a responsibility to help protect it as well becuase it is partially theirs. So if they are walking by and see something out of order they would be more inclined to report it instead of letting someone else deal with it. Just some ideas, hope it helps.

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