On June 14, 2016, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission unanimously adopted the Lower Southwest District Plan, one of 18 such plans to be completed as part of the Philadelphia2035 planning initiative.
The Lower Southwest District encompasses Eastwick, Elmwood and Paschall neighborhoods, as well as the Philadelphia Airport, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Eastwick Community Garden, Cobbs Creek, and Bartram’s Garden.
The district plan includes recommendations for transportation, land use, economic improvements, sustainable development, trails, and more.
Major issues include airport expansion, environmental challenges and flooding, meeting the demand for industrial land, stabilizing residential neighborhoods, and increasing access to the Schuylkill River waterfront. Oil refineries, mega highway, and superfund landfill sites are located in the district.
A particular focus for Eastwick is the 135-acre green space adjacent to Heinz Refuge. Since the early 1960’s, this land had been controlled by an ill-conceived Urban Renewal Agreement that gave the Korman Corporation the right to purchase and develop. Late last year, on December 23, 2015, the City of Philadelphia regained site control, buying-out Korman’s purchase rights, and ending the agreement. This historic moment cleared the way for a community planning process (separate from the Lower Southwest District plan), that will commence after a flood assessment of the land.
Eastwick residents and stakeholders attend Lower Southwest District public community meeting. Photo by Debbie Beer.
The district plan process began in mid-2015, and was completed after three meetings of the steering committee (which had representatives from community groups, non-profits, city agencies, and elected officials), and three public meetings attended by 268 community members. A 30-day comment period followed the third public meeting, and feedback was incorporated into the final draft presented for approval to the City Planning Commission.
Eastwick’s blight status is of significant concern to residents. A discussion is needed to understand the social impacts of this designation, how it impedes forward progress, and what is needed to remove the label.
Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition looks forward to the upcoming community-driven planning process, one in which Eastwick will be at the table requiring no less than an environmental, economic, and socially sustainable future for all residents.
Click here to read the Plan Philly article by Jon Geeting.