by Brendan Sample      

After receiving approval for its grant from the Community Design Collaborative, the Water Tower Recreation Center is continuing to plan out designs for renovations to the facilities. With the Water Tower Advisory Council and Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Clubs having both approved of the $1,500 down payment, meetings are now being set up that will ultimately lead to a finalized master plan.

According to Craig Hosay, a Water Tower board member who is leading the project, it will take approximately six months to put together the master plan, which will bring together all of the ideas for improvements that the recreation center hopes to accomplish. A team of professional designers will then narrow down the master plan to establish specific fixes, which will guide the formal renovations. The grant in question, which will be within the $20,000 to $30,000 range, will be mainly used for compensating the design team.

The first public meeting that will serve as an introduction to the process of forming the master plan will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, on the second floor of the Water Tower. Along with two other public meetings that will be held later in the year, this one will allow members of the community to give their ideas for potential renovations as well as hear about any updates to the project. There will also be several closed meetings in which the Water Tower will speak with CHYSC, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department and other invested groups.

“This will be a down-to-earth, incremental approach to improvements, for facilities, grounds and programming,” Hosay said. “Nothing is set in stone with a master plan yet, so we’re open to all suggestions. It’s not our role to pick winners and losers in this process.”

Hosay continued to emphasize that these renovations are separate from the current citywide initiative Rebuild. Though Rebuild may ultimately lead to some fixes to the facilities, the master plan will be developed outside of any changes that may come from Rebuild.

While there have been some concerns that the Water Tower might ultimately end up as a privatized institution, Hosay confirmed that privatization is something that will not happen and that the Water Tower will continue to serve the same purpose after the renovations.

“The Water Tower will always remain a rec center,” Hosay explained. “There are no privatization plans at all.”