Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD

Connor Barwin joined partners in South Philadelphia to announce major improvements at the Smith Recreation Center, including Green City, Clean Waters investments that will protect local waterways. Credit: PWD

While Philly is mourning the news that Eagles defensive end and super citizen Connor Barwin is headed to another team, his Make the World Better Foundation has pledged to continue its good work and is moving forward on projects the fan-favorite helped to fund.

One of those projects is the renovation of West Passyunk's Smith Playground, a total overhaul being led by the community, Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit Urban Roots, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and SERVE Philadelphia.
Barwin helped raise $150,000 for the project and then matched that amount, just as he did when helping to fund improvements at the nearby Ralph Brooks Park in 2014.

Improvements at the 7.5-acre Smith Playground will include green upgrades that support the Philadelphia Water Department's Green City, Clean Waters program and help to protect local waterways from stormwater pollution.

On top of getting new football and baseball fields, new green stormwater tools, and improvements for the rec center building and adjacent play spaces, this site will feature a Mural Arts installation by artists Kien Nguyen and Katie Yamasaki.

This Saturday (March 18)at 10 a.m., residents and partners are invited to join Mural Arts at 2100 S. 24th Street for an open house and community paint day that will aid in completing the new mural. No painting experience necessary—and refreshments will be served!

Just RSVP here!

As a part of the team working to revitalize Smith, PWD will be on hand to pitch in and provide construction updates about the green upgrades planned for the park.

Here's a sneak peek at Smith's Green City, Clean Waters improvements, set to begin construction this spring: Our contribution to the renovations will involve five new green stormwater tools, and should be completed by late 2017. They include:

  • A subsurface infiltration trench beneath the football/turf field at the southwest side of the park
  • A rain garden between the sidewalk and the basketball courts
  • A subsurface infiltration trench under the depaved tennis court area at the corner of 25th and Snyder
  • A subsurface infiltration trench beneath a grass area along Snyder Avenue
  • A subsurface infiltration trench under the sidewalk on the northern part of Snyder Avenue

These green stormwater improvements will capture the equivalent of 2.75 SEPTA buses of water almost every time it rains—water that could otherwise be rushing into local sewers and waterways.

The systems will mostly handle runoff coming from 25th Street and Snyder Avenue with a total of 1.83 acres of hard, impervious surface draining into the infiltration trenches and rain gardens, where it will slowly filter into the earth and water table.

And while residents using the fields won't be able to see many of the below-ground features, the Green City, Clean Waters tools will be hard at work during wet weather: for every 1-inch storm, the improvements listed above will manage 49,613 gallons of stormwater runoff.

During a typical year of Philly weather, that adds up to nearly three million gallons of polluted water kept out of our rivers! As a part of rules for redevelopment in our city, the Smith Playground renovations will include even more green stormwater improvements, making this a truly sustainable community investment.

We hope you'll join us on Saturday to do a little painting, learn more about our work and that of other partners, and give back to the community. Personally, we couldn't think of a better way to send a big 'thank you' to Barwin for the time he spent in Philly and the work he did to make our city better.

ICYMI, here's Barwin's post thanking his fans:


Thank you Philadelphia from the bottom of my heart for welcoming me and for being the amazing city you are. Laura and I want to thank Jeffrey Lurie, the entire Eagles organization, and all the fans for their support. It has been an honor and a privilege to play for this historic franchise. The Make The World Better Foundation, will continue it's work to revitalize parks in the city. Our current projects at Smith Playground and Waterloo Playground are moving forward and very exciting. I hope to see many of you at our concert this year. I have learned from and cherish every experience I have had in the great city of Philadelphia and every snap I played as an Eagle. From the Lurie's, to my coaches, teammates, mtwb partners, and fellow septa riders thank you! Go Philly, Go Eagles . . . hope to see you in the playoffs!

A post shared by Connor Barwin (@connorbarwin98) on