City opens new play area at Grays Ave. & 56th
The city’s greatly improved Russell DeRitis playground at 5655 Grays Avenue and 56th Street was recently dedicated by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and community leaders. The project in which the city has invested some $380,000 was begun in 2019 and construction was completed last November.
The playground now includes a new, safer play area, activity equipment of many kinds, new benches and trash bins. The area has been beautified with several trees. Of interest to the neighborhood’s active youngsters is the resurfaced basketball court new backboards, hoops, and benches.
The opening occurred just a week after 16-year-old Quamir Mitchell was shot and killed a short distance away. That shooting also injured a 13-year-old boy who was shot once in the arm.
Gun violence incidents such as these have spurred community concern activities, notably the Peace Not Guns Call-To-Action meetings organized by Councilman Johnson. There have been five such gatherings following the murder of 17-year-old Kyeir Pickens at Myers Recreation Center on Friday, March 12. The most recent event sponsored by Councilman Johnson was an emergency public safety walk on May 14 at Connell Park where he stressed, “The COVID19 coronavirus isn’t the only crisis impacting our city… We have reached an emergency status when it comes to gun violence and all Philadelphians must work together to create a short-term and long-term plan to address this senseless gun violence.”
Councilman Johnson has applauded the Police Department’s plan to increase patrols around recreation centers this summer and is promoting the installation of new and updated security cameras outside of recreation centers in the Second District as soon as possible. In these anti-violence efforts, he seeks to partner with anti-violence organizations and community groups around his 2nd District, including the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, Town Watch Integrated Services, Network of Neighbors, the Philly Truce App, the Born Leader Family, New Options/More Opportunities, Every Murder is Real, and Pennsylvania CareerLink.
Residents who wish to share suggestions on ways to reduce the murder rate in Philadelphia may visit the website at https://phlcouncil.com/kenyattajohnson/
Information and photos for this article were graciously provided by Vincent Thompson, Communications Director for Councilman Johnson.