The goal of the Water Tower Recreation Center is to service the children and adults of the community through various programs and events. We are saddened that several neighbors seem to be disappointed with the current outside state of the facility. [“Water Tower is a ‘runaway train,’ July 7]

The Water Tower is a very large center with immense grounds serving large numbers of people daily. We are doing the best that we can with the limited resources that we have. There is one caretaker responsible for maintaining the facility and the grounds, so we look to our neighbors for assistance.

This is a community center. Instead of writing articles pointing fingers, we would hope that concerned community members would come in and ask how they can help. Here is some information that the community may not be aware of and the steps we are taking to address the concerns.

In regards to the garbage issue, there are many factors that we cannot control. As anyone who lives in Philadelphia knows, city trash pickup does not necessarily happen when it is supposed to. Our caretaker works from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., so he cannot possibly put the trash out 30 minutes before the facility closes. Illegal dumping also contributes to the abundance of trash. The following measures have been taken to address the garbage issue: the purchase of additional trash receptacles with lids, the building of a trash shed to store the garbage and eliminate the rodent problem, and additional trash pick-up days have been added for the summer months when our garbage load is the heaviest.

The storm water runoff has been an ongoing well-known situation for 25 years. While the issue has been communicated to the city, there is nothing the Water Tower can do to address it until further action is taken by the city. This is a major capital improvement project and we simply do not have the resources to address it ourselves.

The lighting problem has been corrected as the timers have been reset and the staff members now shut the lights off manually before they lock up the building if the courts/fields are unoccupied. If there is a power outage or daylight savings change, we ask for patience while we wait for electricians to make the proper adjustments.

We have asked the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club for permission to relocate the sand pile from the current location to the back left section of the baseball fields, where it will be stored on the grass next to the batting cages. This should alleviate the rain runoff down the driveway and into the street.

In regards to the skate park, the equipment (with exception to the bleachers) has been removed from the court, and the skate park has been shut down and locked up. We hope that this is a temporary measure and that the skateboarders and neighbors can come to an agreement.

While we had been reporting the abandoned red car to the police for more than a year, it could not be removed until the registration expired. An inspector visited the facility at our request and the vehicle was towed this morning.

Our primary goal is to serve the community and address people’s needs as best as we can. Unfortunately, we have been short-staffed for the past year and sometimes the fill in/support staff that cover the office are unfamiliar with the building/grounds. It is never our intention to ignore or neglect any concerns that the community has. When the supervisor is not present, there is always a different city employee or program facilitator on site. Any of us would be happy to address the concerns to the best of our ability, and relay the information to the director. We would hope that concerned neighbors would take action to form a partnership with us to make the Water Tower the best it can be, and to provide a clean and safe environment for us all to enjoy.

— Concerned members of the Water Tower Advisory Council

Editor’s note: The Water Tower Advisory Council is a small board composed of area residents and staff that consults with the center’s director on operations. Three of that council’s members composed this response, therefore it does not necessarily speak for the whole council.

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  • ArdleighCitiZen

    I’m really happy to see this response and thank the WTAC for making it. I only wish the members of this council had chosen to identify themselves, and provide some means by which residents could get in touch. It seems clear that there is a disconnect here, and an unfortunate communication breakdown tht has led to bad feelings. I think it would be productive and would advance the cause of community collaboration if members of this group would hold an open meeting with residents to discuss issues of concern and perhaps just explain how things work. Surprisingly, I think it still may not be clear to folks in the neighborhood who is in charge at the Rec Center and to whom they can address concerns and questions. Neither the web site, Twitter account, or Facebook page seem to facilitate two-way communication with the neighborhood.

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