Tip Top Playground the latest River Wards rec area to receive potential makeover

The playground is encapsulated by Front Street to the east, Hope Street to the west, Wildey Street to the north and Allen Street to the south.

One rendering of a proposed redesign of Tip Top Playground.

Pier Derrickson of Friends of Tip Top Playground presented renderings of what Northern Liberties Tip Top Playground could potentially look like at a recent Fishtown Neighbors Association meeting in an effort to jumpstart conversations about giving the playground a makeover. 

“This is really a starting point to get feedback from the community,” she said.

The playground is encapsulated by Front Street to the east, Hope Street to the west, Wildey Street to the north and Allen Street to the south.

Architect Kevin O’Neill, of KJO Architecture, showed two potential renderings.

Both renderings show versions of the park with considerably more green space than currently exists at the park, which almost entirely consists of either concrete or asphalt.

“We’re showing you guys tonight these two options, which sort of condensed down a lot of the ideas that we’ve been hearing from everybody over the past six to 12 months,” said O’Neill.

The second rendering had a soccer field, which resident Jim Hardy, founder of Kensington Soccer Club, pushed for. 

Another rendering of a proposed redesign of Tip Top Playground.

He said that while residents may not know it, there is a tremendous interest in soccer in the Kensington, Fishtown and Northern Liberties sections of the city and a field would get a tremendous amount of use if one was placed at Tip Top Playground. 

“I feel really confident that there’s the interest in soccer in the neighborhood,” he said. “Even though there aren’t as many children in Northern Liberties, I’ve been to adult pickup soccer games every Tuesday night at Northern Liberties Rec, and that’s always packed.”

Derrickson said the Philadelphia Water Department had shown interest in the playground as a way to implement green space to help curb rainwater runoff into the Delaware River, which is an initiative its been pushing for the past few years to ease the burden on the city’s sewer system.

“This is a huge opportunity for a collection of water,” she said, while noting that the water department has asked for a 30 percent permeable surface in order to collect water.

Derrickson also noted that they were looking to add an entrance along the southern side of the playground, right across the street from the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church.

The developments at Tip Top Playground are just the latest parks and recreation news in the River Wards. 

The city recently sought community input to renovate Cione Recreation Center with the help of Roman Catholic High School in Center City. Roman wants to help renovate the fields so it can use them and permit them from 3 to 6 p.m. every weekday. Roman would also maintain the fields as part of the potential agreement.

The Bridesburg Recreation Center also recently received a brand new pool, which will open next month. 

Back in January, it was announced that the Fishtown Recreation Center would receive a number of improvements over the next several months, including the return of the community’s beloved Lederer Pool, which is more commonly referred to by Fishtowners as the “Swimmo.” The Swimmo initially closed its doors two years ago because of plumbing issues. The Fishtown project, unlike the others, is being completed with funds from Rebuild, which is a citywide initiative to rebuild parks and community centers in the city. 

According to parks and rec commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, there are already 30 active Rebuild projects the organization is putting $100 million toward funding.