A new and improved playground area as well as a revamped baseball and soccer field were officially debuted at Samuel Recreation Center in Port Richmond in a ceremony on Wednesday, June 1.
The unveiling was hosted by members of the Friends of Samuel Rec, an organization that has been dedicated to renovating the recreation center over the last few years. The event was also attended by dozens of Port Richmond residents, state Rep. Joe Hohenstein and Councilman Mark Squilla.
“We have to thank the Port Richmond community and this neighborhood and all the kids for your continued support along the way,” said Friends of Samuel Rec board member Renee Bernek. “We greatly appreciate you and we look forward to you enjoying this facility for many more years to come.”
Efforts to restore the rec center’s outdoor area had been ongoing for the better part of the last three years since elevated levels of lead were found in the field’s soil in 2019. After an extended period of inaction, Port Richmond residents Bernek, Cherri Beck, Shannon Mullen and Karen Wallace founded the Friends of Samuel Rec in the spring of 2021 as a response to that static situation. The group managed to secure grants and raise additional money that have contributed to the eventual completion of the renovations.
Hohenstein credited the Friends of Samuel Rec for their continued push to ensure the center received the attention it needed to continue providing a safe, fun environment for the neighborhood.
“These folks have worked hard and long,” Hohenstein said. “And I’m just gonna say you guys absolutely deserve it. And to the adults, you really have to recognize the strength of the people who organized Friends of Samuel and how much they really put into this.”
Squilla also commended the work the Friends of Samuel has put in to organize and advocate for improvements to the center as a whole.
“I want to thank the Friends of Samuel for all the work and effort that they have done to make this a reality,” Squilla said. “They turned a negative into a positive.”
The playground and field made up the second of three phases of Samuel Rec renovations. Construction of a brand-new multi-sport court to replace the old basketball courts is expected to be completed by the fall with an official grand opening tentatively scheduled for Oct. 1.
“We look forward to the many, many activities, community events and lots of play by our kids that the future holds,” Bernek said.