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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