School District of Philadelphia

Commissioner McCarty, West Philly Kids Celebrate 5 Years of Green City, Clean Waters at Green Schoolyard

Greening Henry C. Lea School - Ribbon Cutting

Philadelphia Water Commissioner Debra A. McCarty joined students and members of the West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools at Henry C. Lea Elementary on May 10 to celebrate five years of Green City, Clean Waters and the completion of a new schoolyard featuring three rain gardens, nearly two dozen new trees, and porous paving and play surfaces.

Planting Day Crowns Project to Improve School with Green Infrastructure, SMIP Grant

Trees, permeable pavement and a rain garden all make the Lea schoolyard a better place for kids and Philadelphia’s waterways. Credit: West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools
Trees, permeable pavement and a rain garden all make the Lea schoolyard a better place for kids and Philadelphia’s waterways. Credit: WPCNS

Since 2012, Philadelphia Water has worked with members of the Lea Elementary School community and a number of partners to redesign their schoolyard and the surrounding area in a way that benefits the students, the neighborhood and our local waterways.

A Greener Hackett Elementary Brings Excitement to the Neighborhood


Proposed view of Hackett schoolyard by the Community Design Collaborative

Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School is lucky to have a large schoolyard—nearly an acre of land in the middle of the city—but many people describe it as a “sea of pavement.” As it stands, the schoolyard is almost completely covered in asphalt but will soon transform into a lush green space with benefits for students, the neighboring communities and the environment. Many community members are excited that their kids will have green space to play in and teachers look forward to expanding their curriculum to include the outside environment.

This project demonstrates the power of partnerships and community involvement. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), School District of Philadelphia, Friends of Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School, and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), and volunteers from the Community Design Collaborative (CDC) worked together on a master plan for the schoolyard that integrates green stormwater infrastructure.

The schoolyard will be outfitted with green stormwater infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff through PWD’s  Green City, Clean Waters plan. The site will be equipped with a rain garden and underground retention basins that will soak up rainwater, filter it and keep it out of the combined sewer system.

Using green stormwater infrastructure at the Hackett School is just one part of the schoolyard revitalization plan. It also includes play and fitness equipment, shade trees, murals, an outdoor classroom, and amenities such as customized swings, accessible ramps and walkways for wheelchairs and students with specialized needs.

Philadelphia Water Department will implement the green stormwater infrastructure elements. To jumpstart the project on the community side, the School leadership and the Friends of Hackett organize work days and are currently raising funds to realize the rest of the plan. You can donate to their cause on their website: http://friendsofhackett.weebly.com

To read more about this project and see pictures of the site, check out this Philadelphia Neighborhoods article Kensington: A Greener Schoolyard for Hackett Elementary.

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