Krajewski, Fiedler call for funding parks, recreation centers in PA

HARRISBURG, April 14 – State Reps. Rick Krajewski and Elizabeth Fiedler introduced the Pennsylvania Recreational Infrastructure Revitalization Act this week.

The bill, which is in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives awaiting a vote, would allocate $500 million from American Rescue Plan funds to repair and invest in parks and recreational spaces throughout the state.

Krajewski and Fiedler said that they believe that this funding is important to improve community safety and well-being.

“The young people and community of West and Southwest Philadelphia deserve a park and recreation center where they can safely play, recreate, meet, learn and have fun,” Krajewski said. “With gun violence ravaging our communities, we need to invest in our public spaces to allow at-risk youth to enjoy community and leisure.”

During the pandemic, the usage of parks and recreational spaces increased by 20%. Parks and recreation centers are valuable public resources that provide opportunities for children, youth and families to play and recreate. Research finds that well-designed and -maintained urban parks can reduce gun violence, improve safety, and keep residents healthier, while poorly designed and maintained parks lead to more crime, according to the bill’s co-sponsorship memo.

“Parks are a valuable part of our communities. It gives people a place to be outside, exercise and socialize,” Fiedler said. “As the usage of parks increased during the pandemic, it is more important than ever that our parks are properly funded and provide people a place to go for all kinds of great activities.”

In many urban areas of the Commonwealth, parks and recreation centers were built over 100 years ago. A lack of investment and maintenance in these areas has led to their deterioration. They are in need of building renovations, updated playground equipment, improved ballfields and basketball courts, pool repairs, new sidewalks and groundskeeping, and more.

“One of the most powerful ways to end gun violence is to invest in the communities most heavily impacted. While none of us can wave a magic wand and end gun violence, we can use our resources and platforms to marshal the support necessary to change the tide,” Krajewski said. “Our state is approaching budget season. During this time, we have an opportunity to interrogate our funding priorities and it is time to say that we cannot keep giving tax cuts and benefits to the wealthy and corporate interests while our parks and rec funding is inadequate.”