Building on Philadelphia’s ongoing commitment to become one of the greenest cities in America, Mayor Michael Nutter announced yesterday a bold action plan to transform 500 acres of empty or underused land into publicly accessible green space in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia over the next five years.
The new plan, called Green 2015, pledges that the city will partner with communities, local institutions, foundations and the private sector to assemble acreage that “connects people to parks” in underserved neighborhoods throughout the city.
At the same time, the plan provides an innovative way to boost the city’s compliance with new federal stormwater regulations that require the city to reduce stormwater runoff into local rivers and streams.
The plan was first announced yesterday at a press conference at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center in North Philadelphia, where future greening initiatives will include a community garden, new street trees, and the partial greening of a paved recreation area.
And last night, the Green 2015 plan was presented to a packed house of community leaders, horticulturalists, and other opinion leaders at a formal presentation held at an Urban Sustainability Forum at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis said that the goal is to focus on parks and green space as a long-term investment in Philadelphia’s future.
“Green 2015 charts a course for action that will make our city more equitable, livable, and competitive. We can improve the air we breathe, protect the water we drink, provide children and families with places for recreation, and increase the attractiveness of our neighborhoods — all by taking affordable steps to transform existing land into publicly accessible green space,” DiBerardinis said.
Check out a few more renderings and a video below.
Green 2015 was commissioned by the Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the City Planning Commission, under a grant from the William Penn and Lenfest Foundations. Other project partners include PennPraxis, a unit within the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, and the Philadelphia Water Department.
Here’s a video from Greenworks about the initiative.
Almost no land would need to be purchased to meet the 500-acre goal. Much of the land targeted for this initiative already is publicly owned and therefore requires no public funds to acquire.
The City also will rely on private partners like the University of Pennsylvania, which has pledged to make the new, 24-acre Penn Park accessible for public use, to help reach the 500-acre goal over the next five years.
Green 2015 also includes a set of criteria to guide decision making about adding new parks, while at the same time maintaining and improving our existing parks. These criteria include ensuring that new parks serve residents without current access to parks; meeting the requirements of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters program and the Planning Commission’s comprehensive plan, Philadelphia 2035; and addressing environmental, public health and economic objectives.
In collaboration with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Green 2015 also offers a long-range vision for a city-wide trail and greenway network to connect all Philadelphia neighborhoods with our great waterfront parks and regional trails along on- and off-road dedicated bike and pedestrian paths.
Overall, Green2015 is a smart road map to a green Philadelphia. It updates the meaning of “park space” for the 21st century and rethinks the future of Philadelphia’s park system.