An undetermined number of years ago, some city planners and/or school district employees determined that the best school yards are those that are covered in asphalt. Not knowing their identities and understanding that they're probably long dead, we can't even send them a thank you card for the many lousy school yards we "enjoy" today. Across the city, many communities are no longer willing to accept big parking lots that double as school yards and are working on all sorts of improvement efforts. At the Arthur School in Graduate Hospital, a major construction project took place over the summer and should wrap up in the coming weeks. In West Philly, we've been covering the greening efforts at Lea Elementary for years. In Bella Vista, the Nebinger School has taken a phased approach to improving its school yard.

At the Adaire School at 1300 E. Palmer St., parent group Friends of Adaire have worked for the last several years to push forward a school yard revitalization project, and it's certainly a large space that could use some love.

An asphalt wonderland

According to the FOA website, the process started back in 2013 with a promise of funding from Council President Darrell Clarke. Over the last several years, there have been countless meetings with neighbors, students, and other stakeholders to determine exactly what to do with the school yard. As is always the case with these projects, PWD has gotten involved, and storm water management will play a major role. Ian Smith Design Group, architects that have worked on many projects we've covered over the years, has taken the lead on the design work, kindly taking on the effort pro bono. They've produced a site plan for the project with details that will look like a fish when seen from above. A rendering shows a fabulous school yard which could soon become a reality.

A fishy site plan

Project rendering

Financial responsibility for the project has shifted from the councilman's office to the Trust for Public Land and the School District, and about a week ago a legal notice appeared in the Inquirer, soliciting contractor bids for the project. With bids expected within the next month, a contractor could be selected by the end of the year. Considering the extended timeline of this entire process, we can understand why FOA would hesitate to guess on a timeline for groundbreaking. But we will! We predict that groundbreaking will happen at some point in 2017. Here's hoping that by this time next year, the kids at Adaire will have a fancy new school yard to enjoy. The power of positive thinking, folks! And not for nothing, this project will also be a testament to the power of neighbors getting together and working hard to improve their community.