Tip-top shape

Playground group meets to discuss next steps in revitalizing space.

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF TIP TOP

The Friends of Tip Top, an organized group of volunteers working to revitalize the namesake playground, held a meeting on Monday, April 25, via Zoom to discuss best steps to make progress moving forward.

The meeting was moderated by Pier Derrickson, chairperson of the group.

Co-founder and former chairman Roman Blazic opened the meeting.

“The real objective is being able to find committed funding to have the architecture design plan,” said Blazic, in regard to a recent meeting with Councilman Mark Squilla and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation regarding the playground. “Nothing can happen until you have that.”

Renderings had previously been developed by an architect, but the pandemic put all plans on hold.

Blazic talked about the need for transparency if the group plans to commence fundraising efforts to restore the space in the shadow of the El between Fishtown and Northern Liberties.

Since 2017, the group has worked on adding programming and greening the space, which is bordered by Allen, Hope and Wildey streets along Front Street.

A land survey was completed on Thursday, April 21.

“One thing I really want to get across to people is the Friends of Tip Top is community representatives,” Blazic said. “Because I don’t just see this as a Tip Top issue. I see this as a community issue.”

Another meeting will take place with representatives from Friends of Tip Top and Squilla was scheduled to take place on May 2.

Derrickson spoke about next steps.

“We have to work with an architect who can develop the CDs who has a contract under the city,” she said. “We need the construction documents to get a more realistic budget than an estimate.”

She also spoke about the potential to fundraise to make any plans a reality.

“Up to this point, all our community efforts have really been about building community,” she said. “That’s what we were working with Parks and Rec to do.”

Community efforts have included movie nights and cleanups.

The group also plans to apply for another grant from Penn Treaty Special Services District to cover the cost associated with becoming a 501c3, so the group can continue to secure funds in the future. 

While Derrickson acknowledged the group was grateful for the financial help from PTSSD and Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.

“It would be much more effective if we had our own source of being able to collect funds,” Derrickson said. “Our success with Squilla and Parks and Rec is really going to be if we already have a fund started so it’s a partnership. I think really getting a grant going is our next step.”

Outside of working toward gaining nonprofit status, the group is gearing up for summer with programming.

Derrickson also talked about the importance of forming a formal board and having committee members.

“It’s a big patch of hard surface. It’s not like it’s a field of green. It’s going to take an effort,” she said. “We talked about phasing with Parks and Rec. Let’s say we do the playground portion first and then we would do the fenced-in area.”

There was also talk among those in attendance about not pursuing nonprofit status and staying under the umbrella of NLNA.

And, while making any construction designs a reality is going to take a lot more work than simply plopping down equipment at the playground, it’s work that is worth it, according to Derrickson.

“It’s our turn. This is such a prime area that used to be the forgotten triangle,” she said. “And, now, it’s literally like the crossroads between Fishtown and Kensington and Northern Liberties. It would be a prime resource for our community if we had more green and benches, and play structures. And, just having a place to rest and have green. That’s what we need so desperately.”

Tip Top Playground, Front and Allen streets, will be a 2022 Love-Your-Park Clean Up Day site on Saturday, May 7, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Activities will include sweeping, cleaning the playground equipment, picking up trash and installing a new basketball net.

Rakes, brooms, shovels, gloves and trashbags will be available.

Participants can bring a water bottle and a hat.

For more details, email TipTopFriendsGroup@gmail.com or follow Friends of Tip Top Playground on Facebook.

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