Burholme Park is about to get a major facelift with new playground equipment and security devices in the coming weeks, according to City Councilman Brian O’Neill.
Speaking at the monthly joint meeting of the Fox Chase Civic Association and Fox Chase Town Watch, O’Neill reported that the play equipment is on hand and available for installation in advance of the peak playground season.
Funded through Council’s capital program, the project has been in planning for three to four years and will cost $492,515. O’Neill was hoping the installation would begin last spring, but the equipment was on order. The councilman didn’t want delays to prevent neighbors from using the facility throughout the spring and summer.
This year, he has been assured the new equipment will be installed and ready for use by the end of the current school year.
The new play equipment will include climbing structures and rope nets, sliding boards and swings. Different installations will be designed for tots and older children. There will be wheelchair-accessible picnic tables, a reconfigured accessible parking lot and paved walkways linking to an existing utility building with restrooms. The work will include tree plantings and new bike racks.
On the security side, new lighting and sonic audio devices have already been installed, O’Neill said. The sonic devices produce a high-pitched sound that only children and young adults can hear. They operate on timers and are meant to deter loiterers when the park is closed to the public.
At Fox Chase Recreation Center, another capital project is still in the preliminary stages, O’Neill said. The councilman hopes that a play area redesign at Fox Chase Recreation Center will start before the 2017-18 school year. The main objective is to relocate a paved driveway that cuts through the existing play area, while expanding the water spray fixture in front of the gymnasium.
O’Neill further reported that some recent maintenance work at Fox Chase Branch Library was completed weeks ahead of schedule. Initially, the library was set to shut down on Jan. 28 and stay closed for a month for a water heater replacement. But the councilman lobbied to get overtime funding for workers that enabled them to finish the job by Feb. 7.
In an unrelated topic, local police and town watch President Steve Phillips responded to questions for the second consecutive month about a Christmas Eve shooting on the 8200 block of Halstead St.
Officers from the 7th district arrested a resident of the block on Dec. 24 after he allegedly fired a gun at a neighbor’s home, which was occupied at the time. No injuries were reported, but neighbors are concerned that the defendant may pose an additional safety risk.
Court records show that the 59-year-old defendant remained in jail until Jan. 3, when he was released on $100,000 bail.
On Feb. 7 he waived a preliminary hearing and was ordered to stand trial for discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, carrying a firearm in public, reckless endangerment and related offenses. He is scheduled for a Common Pleas Court arraignment on Feb. 21. A trial date has not been set.
Phillips said that he has been in contact with the district attorney’s office to ensure that affected neighbors can submit their concerns for the court record. Neighbors said they would like the court to ban the defendant from possessing guns. ••