City Officials Make Historic Commitments to Eastwick Residents

For Immediate Release
July 17, 2015

Press Contact: Amy Laura Cahn, Public Interest Law Center, 917-771-3385, acahn@pilcop.org
     Barb Grimaldi, Public Interest Law Center, 585-797-9439, bgrimaldi@pilcop.org

Philadelphia, PA:  At a July 16 community meeting convened by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, more than 140 Eastwick residents celebrated being one step closer to community-based planning processes for both the future of a 135-acre parcel of land and flood mitigation infrastructure.

Brian Abernathy, executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), told the standing-room-only crowd that within the next five months he would work to settle and hopefully bring to a close a decades-old Redevelopment Agreement that currently gives developer Korman Company the option to purchase a 135-acre undeveloped parcel of land adjacent to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Upon return of the land to the control of PRA, Abernathy indicated the agency would work with Philadelphia City Planning Commission to initiate a community-based planning process to guide decisions regarding the land’s end uses. Such a planning process would mark the first planning process for Eastwick in more than 50 years.

“We are extremely pleased that this land is significantly closer to coming back into the purview of the community, and thrilled the city is acknowledging the planning process we deserve after decades of municipal neglect and disinvestment,” said Terry Williams, President of the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC), who was born and raised and returned to live in Eastwick. For more than three years EFNC and the larger community has successfully advocated to stave off Korman’s unwanted and ecologically unsound development of the parcel.  “Now, we will work to help city, state, and federal officials to fulfill the commitments that were made during tonight’s historic discussion and ensure they find resources to support Eastwick residents for the long haul.”

“This is an historic moment for this vital neighborhood,” said Councilman Johnson. “I look forward to continuing to support the community as we move through the next few months, and into a potential planning process that will provide residents a strong voice in the future of their neighborhood.”

Eastwick Public Mtg 2015-0716 -Debbie Jefferson 01

Eastwick Community Meeting, July 16, 2015 (Photo by Deborah Jefferson).

Eastwick, located in southwest Philadelphia, borders the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and the Philadelphia International Airport. Much of the neighborhood is located in a federally designated floodplain and has been subject to severe flooding from nearby Cobbs and Darby Creeks. In the 1950s, PRA condemned and seized 2,300 acres of the neighborhood by eminent domain, destroying homes and displacing over 8,000 people. This land grab subjected the community to years of unstable development, neighborhood segregation, and economic distress. PRA acknowledged the negative impact of this top-down approach at the meeting and committed to conducting future planning processes with and for residents.

In addition to PRA’s discussion of the future of the Redevelopment Agreement and the 135-acre parcel, Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their intent to secure federal funding to develop a flood mitigation plan for the neighborhood. PWD has already committed to fund 50% of the next step of flood mitigation studies and urged residents to press state and federal elected officials for additional funding. This announcement comes after PWD and the Army Corps concluded a flood mitigation study in 2014, which determined that a proposed levee was not an appropriate flood mitigation strategy, as it would exacerbate flooding upstream and downstream.

Eastwick Public Mtg 2015-0716 -Debbie Jefferson 04

Eastwick Community Meeting, July 16, 2015 (Photo by Deborah Jefferson).

By organizing to address development of the 135-acre parcel, EFNC and residents successfully brought the long-standing issue of flooding to the attention of city agencies after decades of dealing with persistent flooding dangers and trauma. Residents at Thursday’s meeting noted they look forward to working with the Army Corps and PWD to make sure this next study results in real solutions for Eastwick homes and the community-at-large.

“This community meeting showed that city and state officials are listening and responding to residents in Eastwick,” said Amy Laura Cahn, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center who has represented EFNC since 2012. “Tonight’s discussion indicated we are taking the first steps in what we hope will be a truly community-based planning process that allows the community to self-determine its future and ultimately move beyond the 1950s designation as a ‘blighted’ community.”

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About the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition
The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition brings together community stakeholders in planning and advocating for an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future for the Eastwick community. The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition is committed to ensuring that after six decades, the community is finally made whole and has a voice in its own future. www.EastwickFriends.wordpress.com

About the Public Interest Law Center
The Public Interest Law Center uses high-impact legal strategies to improve the well-being and life prospects of vulnerable populations by ensuring they have access to fundamental resources including a high-quality public education, access to health care, employment, housing, safe and healthy neighborhoods and the right to vote. For more information visit www.pubintlaw.org or on Twitter @PubIntLawCtr.

Historic Announcements about Korman, 128-acres, and Community Planning – Meeting on July 16, 2015

Come out to a public community meeting on July 16 to hear first-hand, historic announcements regarding Korman, the 128-acre green space adjacent to Heinz Refuge, Eastwick community planning and flood mitigation.

EFNC urges all Eastwick residents and stakeholders to attend this important meeting, convened by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. Officials from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and the Philadelphia Water Department will be on-hand to provide long-awaited news, and answer questions.

Community Alert - Eastwick Community Meeting 2015-0716-KJohnson

If you care about the future of Eastwick, and the green space adjacent to Heinz Refuge, don’t miss this historic meeting!  A huge turnout is needed to show elected officials the magnitude of decisions!  Forward this information to all your contacts, and bring a friend with you!

Community Meeting:
Thursday, July 16, 2015
6:00 – 7:30 pm
Eastwick Wellness Center
2821 Island Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19153

If you need transportation to the meeting, please contact Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition at EastwickFNC(at)gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you on July 16, 6:00 pm, at the Eastwick Wellness Center.  Thank you.

Your Voice Makes a Difference! Attend a Public Community Meeting on June 25, 2015

We HEAR you!  Your VOICE makes a DIFFERENCE!

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) invites all to attend a Public Community Meeting on Thursday, June 25, 2015, at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia PA. Meeting starts promptly, running from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

EFNC-blue-circle-graphicHear the results of your input on the Eastwick Community Assessment conducted by EFNC last fall, concerning flood mitigation, environmental health and equity, community voices, land-use planning, and more.

Learn updates about progress, process and community involvement in the Lower Darby Creek Superfund Site landfill cleanup.

We encourage all to attend the meeting with a neighbor, be informed and involved in tough issues that impact our environmental justice community. Download the meeting flier and forward to a friend.

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition celebrates 3 years of engagement, education and action in Eastwick. We recognize the historic disenfranchisement experienced by residents throughout Eastwick, and the need to now remedy harms to health and ecology. EFNC is committed to improving quality of life, ensuring optimal environmental and ecological quality, and increasing economic growth and vitality. In reaching this milestone of service, we renew our determination and commitment to making Eastwick whole!

Tree Philly offers Free Trees in Eastwick!

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) is pleased to partner with Tree Philly in the annual spring yard tree giveawayWe’ll join partners and friends on Saturday, April 11 at the Eastwick Recreation Center in southwest Philadelphia to help distribute and talk about trees!

TreePhilly_PPR_vertical_transparentDate: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 2:00 – 4:00 pm (walk-ins accepted through 4:30 pm, while supplies last)
Location: Eastwick Recreation Center
80th Street and Mars Place, Philadelphia, PA 19153

Now through April 1, Philadelphia residents can register for up to two free trees to plant in a yard or lawn on private property. Several species are available this spring, ranging from short and tall shade trees, to beautiful and tasty fruit trees! See the full species list and get detailed information here.

Trees are a vital part of the Eastwick community. We know they beautify our parks, shade lawns, and enhance sidewalks in our neighborhoods. But they also do so much more. When properly planted and cared for, they can promote human health, increase air quality, soak up stormwater, save energy, reduce costs to taxpayers—and sometimes simply provide a much-needed place of solace in a bustling urban center!

Pre-register on the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation website, now through April 1, and select your choice of tree species. Note: there are 3 events in April, each with a different date and location – register carefully for your preferred spot. EFNC will be at the Eastwick Rec Center on April 11.

When you pick-up your trees, you’ll also receive a free bag of mulch, educational materials and information on how to plant and care for tree.

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged, but walk-ins will be accepted at the end of the event, while supplies last.  We hope to see you there!

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