Environmental Hearing at City Hall, March 22

Philadelphia City Council is holding a public hearing on the environment on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 3:00 pm, at City Hall Room 400.  Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) urges all Eastwick residents and stakeholders to attend this open city meeting.

YOU make a difference in conveying to city officials that flooding, air pollution, and other environmental factors deeply impact our community. Attend to lend your voice and support!

EFNC members will testify at the hearing, highlighting these points:

  • Eastwick is an environmental justice community in SW Philadelphia. Residents endure disproportionate burdens, encompassing multiple issues dating back decades.
  • Eastwick is impacted by toxic emissions from multiple, nearby sources. Pollution comes from oil refinery, major postal distribution center, and a mega-highway running through the neighborhood.
  • The Philadelphia International Airport has a significant impact on air quality. Hundreds of aircraft daily release excess jetfuel into the atmosphere over Eastwick during landings into PHL, among the busiest airports in the world.
  • High rates of asthma and respiratory illnesses afflict Eastwick residents. Air quality studies are being developed to quantify toxins so that solutions can be explored.
  • Eastwick families have lived within sight of the Clearview landfill since the 1950’s, and children played on the dump. The Clearview and Folcroft landfills were closed in the 1970’s, and in 2001, the Lower Darby Creek Area (LDCA) was declared a national priority superfund site. The EPA initiated remediation in 2013, a lengthy process that is ongoing today.
  • Eastwick is plagued by chronic and severe flooding, resulting from the filling of Tinicum marsh, coupled with increased threat of storm surge from sea level rise and climate destablization.
  • Eastwick is situated on what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies as a 100-year floodplain. This means extreme floods have a one percent chance of occurring in any given year; Hurricanes Floyd and Irene both caused massive flooding.
  • Since much of Eastwick was built in FEMA-designated Special Flood Hazard Area, Eastwick residents need affordability options for rising flood insurance premiums that threaten homeowners in this special FEMA area. Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program are imperative.
  • Like many urban neighborhoods, asphalt is pervasive in Eastwick. Extensive impervious surfaces exacerbates flooding, with few trees or vegetation to naturally absorb stormwater.
  • Many homes in Eastwick were built on silt and dredge spoil. Mediocre construction is eroding, and foundations are cracking with the ever-present pressure of water

It’s important for Philadelphia city officials to hear our message: Eastwick’s economic and social health are intricately connected to the environment. Sustainable solutions and policies must address flooding, climate change, clean air and clean water.

The Environmental Hearing is free and open to the public. To enter City Hall, you may need photo ID to sign-in to the building. We hope to see you there!

Community Meeting with ShopRite, Jeff Brown, on January 18

All are invited to a public community meeting on January 18 to meet ShopRite owner  Jeff Brown and his team, and hear about renovation plans for the ShopRite of Island Avenue, Penrose Plaza Philadelphia.  Enjoy refreshments and community conversation.

Meeting:  Wednesday, January 18, 2017 – 6:00-8:00 PM.  Eastwick Wellness Center, 2821 Island Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19153. Please arrive promptly to sign-in to the Wellness Center.

This meeting is hosted in partnership with ShopRite and Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition.  We look forward to seeing you there!

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EFNC Joins “Day of Denial” Protests Climate Change Deniers

On January 9, 2107, a bitter cold day in Philadelphia, members of Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) joined the national “Day of Denial” rally to protest climate change deniers. EFNC marched in Philadelphia with a coalition of environmental and social justice groups, including 350 Philadelphia, Food & Water WatchGreen Justice Philly, and others.

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EFNC joins “Day of Denial” rally in Philadelphia, protesting climate change deniers.  (Photo by Joseph Reid)

Our “Day of Denial” action was part of a national effort to focus attention and raise concerns about proposed federal cabinet members who deny climate change. Such denial would have devastating impacts on the environment, economy, and public health and safety. EFNC was with ~300 people who marched, held signs, and spoke about the importance of climate change recognition. Our own Ramona Rousseau-Reid added her grace, strength, and wise words to the podium of speakers!

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EFNC President Ramona Rousseau-Reid speaks out against climate change deniers during “Day of Denial” rally in Philadelphia. (Photo by Hanbit’s Contemplative Imaging)

The rally started at Senator Bob Casey’s office in center city Philadelphia, and culminated at Senator Pat Toomey’s office a few blocks away. Press covered the peaceful protest, and a few blocks around city hall were closed for a brief period of time.

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EFNC joins “Day of Denial” rally in Philadelphia with ~300 people protesting climate change deniers.  (Photo by Hanbit’s Contemplative Imaging)

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition urges everyone to hold their elected officials accountable to upholding environmental regulations. Your voices and votes matter!

Eastwick Planning Begins in January

A few days before Christmas last year, on December 23, 2015, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), voted unanimously to end the largest urban renewal agreement in the nation, one that afflicted the Eastwick community for decades.

Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) applauded that historic decision, and continue efforts to make Eastwick whole through environmental, economic, and socially sustainable development. Now, in the last days of 2016, EFNC prepares to embark on the next chapter: a planning process to define the future of 135 acres of land in Eastwick, including green space adjacent to Heinz Refuge, and vacant Pepper Middle School and ComTech properties.

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Green space along Lindbergh Boulevard, part of 135 acres subject to planning process in Eastwick.  Photo by Debbie Beer.

In early January PRA will sign a contract with Interface Studio, a Philadelphia-based urban planning firm, to lead the planning process in Eastwick. Interface was chosen by a selection committee that included representatives from PRA, Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Office of Sustainability, Philadelphia International Airport, and Eastwick community residents.

The process is expected to take 9-12 months, and will include public meetings, interviews, roundtable discussions, and input from at least 18 stakeholder agencies, businesses, SEPTA, PHL Airport, Heinz Refuge, and more. The study will “lead to a preferred vision, development plan, and feasibility study for identified vacant land and buildings in Eastwick currently held by the PRA and School District of Philadelphia.”

Eastwick, an environmental justice community in Southwest Philadelphia, bears a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards, including chronic and severe flooding, close proximity to Philadelphia International Airport and mega highways, and the Clearview Landfill, a National Priority Superfund Site under remediation by the EPA.

Eastwick lies within FEMA’s Special Hazard Area, a high-risk flooding zone. It was built on Darby Creek marshlands, which used to encompass 6,000 acres, but is now reduced to 200 acres protected by the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. The 135 acres of green space absorbs critical stormwater, and residents fear that development will create even more problems for the flood-prone neighborhood.

EFNC is optimistic about the planning process, and will work hard on community engagement to ensure Eastwick voices are heard. Terry Williams, EFNC President, notes that it’s been a challenging, developmental year for Eastwick, but he is encouraged by the potential for the planning process to benefit Eastwick and the City of Philadelphia.

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Eastwick Public Community Meeting. Photo by Debbie Beer

 

Check EFNC website and local newspapers for notice of upcoming Eastwick planning meetings. Attend and make your voice heard in planning the future of Eastwick.

Click here for Plan Philly article, “New Path for Eastwick opens up one year after termination of Urban Renewal Agreement.” (download article PDF if weblink disabled)

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