Residents rally for safer options after neighborhood recreation center closes

The city says the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center has a broken sanitation line.

Christie Ileto Image
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Residents rally for safer options after neighborhood rec center closes
"It's like walking into someone else's territory," said Michael Sanders who is expressing safety concerns about the closure of his recreation center.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia residents are calling on the city to provide a better alternative after a plumbing issue forced the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center to close.

They held a rally at 59th and Spruce streets Wednesday to unload their frustration.

Children are being forced to go to neighboring centers, but high school senior Michael Sanders says other locations raise safety concerns.

"People just be shooting people for no reason," Sanders said.

Scared to go outside of his neighborhood, Sanders says the turf wars are real.

"It's like walking into someone else's territory," Sanders said.

"When we go to other rec centers, it's a death sentence for the youth to go there," added Malik Johnson, who coaches at the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center. "We can't go south, we can't go north. Because they do not like our youth. If we go over there, something will happen to them. Something will happen to them."

SEE ALSO: Philly therapist offers free sessions to kids touched by gun violence: 'They are scared'

More than 300 children in the city have been shot this year, 54 of them killed.

The city says the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center has a broken sanitation line. The closure will likely last six to nine months.

"Parks and Rec is committed to continue working with community leaders, families and staff to find solutions that keep kids safe, active and in the care of positive adult role models," a city spokesperson said.

Resident Kristin Britt says an alternative is to have the schools open at night.

"The alternatives they have, they have to be safe for our children," Britt said. "We're proposing that they open up the schools. So the schools can be open during the day, they can be open during the evening."

Meanwhile, teens like Sanders are left with few options: stay home or risk his life venturing outside his block.

Parks and Rec say they are looking at options to get kids safely to other rec centers in the city including buses.

City of Philadelphia Statement:

"Due to a broken sanitation line, the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center building is temporarily closed. We anticipate the closure will last for 6-9 months.

Cobbs Creek Recreation Center is an approved Rebuild site. Rebuild is working with urgency to complete this work and safely reopen the recreation building as soon as possible.

While the recreation building is closed, residents can still access the playground, outdoor athletic fields, and Laura Sims Skate House.

We understand this news may be upsetting to families, especially those who relied on Cobbs Creek for daily programming and events. All indoor programs have been temporarily relocated to neighboring locations, and we have extended hours at nearby locations. In addition, youth programming at the nearby Laura Sims Skatehouse and Cobbs Creek Environmental Center is available to ensure young people in Cobbs Creek have access to safe, fun indoor recreation programs."