Feb 24, 2022 - News

Philly officials reveal design ideas for new Carousel House

A proposed preliminary plan to redesign the Carousel House, the only recreation center for people with disabilities. Photo courtesy of Rebuild Philadelphia

Philadelphia officials unveiled preliminary plans this week to redesign the new Carousel House into a space nearly double the size of the original facility.

Why it matters: The Carousel House is the only recreation center designed for people with physical and mental disabilities in Philadelphia.

Catch up fast: The city Department of Parks and Recreation gave notice last April that it wouldn't reopen the Carousel House, saying it needed to be demolished because of unattended repairs that made the facility unsafe.

  • The city promised to build a larger one in its place and keep all of the original programming.
  • City officials had their first community meeting last October.

The latest: Officials held a community meeting Tuesday night, spearheaded by the city's Rebuild program, to share preliminary ideas for the new space and seek public input.

  • Proposed amenities include tech and sensory rooms, an indoor pool, a track surrounding the gym and additional locker rooms.

What they're saying: Kira Strong, the Rebuild program's executive director, said that seeking community engagement in the design process is the "cornerstone of what we're trying to do."

  • Strong said the city aims to be "as thorough and inclusive as possible."

Tamar Riley, the president of the Carousel House Advisory Council, said she’s concerned about multiple exits and the lack of gates.

  • "This is a vulnerable population, and safety is of utmost importance," Riley said. "A person could wander off onto the street, or someone could come on the premises we don’t recognize."

Mike Martin, who's treasurer of the Carousel House Advisory Council and uses a wheelchair, said he's optimistic about the designs so far but remains wary.

  • "The city is great at building things but terrible at maintaining and staffing them," he said. "The disabled community was completely blindsided by the closing and the shortsightedness in the way it was done. Our whole community is skeptical of this."

Of note: City officials did not disclose how much the project will cost.

What's next: There's a second in-person meeting Thursday at the Gustine Recreation Center to showcase the same designs.

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