Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition – Committed to Community Excellence
Contact us at:
Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC)
P.O. Box 16985
Philadelphia, PA 19142
Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition, Inc. is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization, as of March 2016.
Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition, Inc. is a Registered Community Organization (RCO) of Philadelphia, since 2014. Our 2016 renewal application has been approved, valid until 2018.
EFNC actively supports the Eastwick Lower Darby Creek Area (ELDCA) Community Advisory Group (CAG), which was established to inform residents about Clearview Landfill clean up, and provide opportunity to voice concerns and provide input to the process. More information can be found on CAG website: http://www.ELDCACAG.org.
A conservation landscape is a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life; where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region; where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, heritage and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
– PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, July 18, 2012.
(Below was originally posted August 3, 2012; some issues have since been updated)
Eastwick Community Vision:
The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) brings together community stake holders in planning and advocating for an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future for Eastwick, located in southwest Philadelphia. The Coalition formed in May 2012, when community residents of Eastwick Action Committee (EAC) joined with the Friends of Heinz Refuge (FOHR), in response to a proposed high-density apartment construction project. The Korman Company has proposed to build a 51 building, 722 rental unit apartment complex, with 1,034 parking spaces, on 35 acres in the vicinity of 86th Street and Lindbergh Blvd. The area in question shares a boundary with the 995-acre John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, an asset of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The 35-acre property is part of a larger 128-acre green space parcel subject to development under agreements between the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and The Korman Company.
EFNC has since launched a campaign to redefine the Eastwick community adjoining the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge as a 21st century model of an ecologically-based, sustainable community. This project envisions the utilization of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge as a catalyst for an ecologically-based agenda of growth, conservation and community programs. The Coalition position is not opposed to new development however encroachment on environmentally sensitively lands is contrary to community values embraced by the Coalition. The Coalition is undertaking a comprehensive economic analysis and land use study to evaluate proposed Zoning legislation as well as alternative land plans to compare their economic viability and alignment with the community’s vision for a 21st century model for a green, sustainable community.
In the 1950s, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority condemned and seized 2500 acres, including these lands, by eminent domain. Ten thousand people were displaced from what was then one of the most peacefully-integrated, culturally-diverse urban communities in the nation. Residents resettled into other areas of the City while new homes were built on swamps filled in by silt, river dredge spoils and cinder. These homes, many built by Korman, have since subsided due to unstable foundation construction, and residents report significant, consistent flooding of the neighborhood. Both are a large financial burden.
Current Critiques and Options:
Since the condemnation and resident displacement in the 1950s, the Eastwick community has been disenfranchised and excluded from official planning processes. Korman has held an option to purchase these lands at a price set in 1961, and “warehoused” the property for fifty years, leaving responsibility for its care and upkeep with the actual owner, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. Facing a 2015 expiration date on its purchase option, Korman comes forward now with a proposal that was developed without input from residents, does not recognize community needs, and does not incorporate innovative, contemporary design features. The proposal does not address stormwater management, and its purported economic benefits to the City and to Eastwick are questionable. The construction project, if built, would dramatically alter the character of the existing neighborhood, and have significant, detrimental impacts on the National Natural Landmark that is John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.
The original 1957 Eastwick Urban Renewal Plan and multiple amendments through 2004 call for the land to be developed primarily for single family homes. Any amendments to that plan, such as developing multi-family rental units, should be done in consultation with the community.
The construction of high-density apartment units within the 128-acre green space will have significant, detrimental impact on the environmental, economic, social and physical health of the Eastwick community. Areas of particular concern include, but are not limited to:
• Exacerbation of current flood risk for homes built in the 100-year floodplain;
• Creation of additional flood risk hazard due to planned construction in the 100-year flood plain;
• Exacerbation of unstable streets, sinkholes, and subsiding foundations;
• Creation of environmental health impacts;
• Potential increases in air, noise and light pollution;
• Diminution of the user experience on 135,000 annual visitors to the Refuge who contribute substantially to the local economy, on local goods and services;
• Creation of risk to Pennsylvania and Federal rare, threatened, and endangered species, including eleven Pennsylvania listed endangered species, located at the Refuge;
• Lack of any environmental impact assessments or hydrology or engineering studies conducted.
The Coalition’s Position and Planning Process:
The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition mobilized 100 residents and Refuge supporters to attend a Rules Committee hearing at City Council on June 12, 2012. The Committee heard over three hours of testimony, including significant discussion about the lack of community input, flooding and environmental concerns, and linkage between the Korman proposal and a settlement agreement allowing the City to take undeveloped acreage in Eastwick for unspecified uses by the Airport. At the end of the testimony, Councilman Johnson decided to pull the bill, stating that he had become aware of the need for additional community input. The Councilman pulled a related Airport bill the following day.
The Coalition takes the position that there are the 40,000 vacant and abandoned parcels within the City, which need to be remediated and put to productive use. In the context of the Mayor’s Greenworks Plan, Green 2015, and Philadelphia 2035, it is sound policy to develop as little of lands adjacent to the Refuge and in flood prone areas as is possible. The Coalition wants environmentally sound development that is developed through equitable and meaningful community participation. To that end, the Coalition is working with a firm and several partners to engage a community-driven process to generate an environmental and economic development plan for the area.
The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition represents a partnership between community members, the Friends of Heinz Refuge, and supporters of a sustainable future. The Coalition is committed to advocating for development that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable for Eastwick, preserving maximum, contiguous green space within the 128-acre parcel in question. Combined with Heinz Refuge, this acreage significantly augments capacity to manage stormwater runoff, mitigate flooding, absorb ground pollutants, enhance clean air, and preserve wildlife habitat. The community-accessible green space provides opportunities for community building, youth development, outdoor exercise, environmental study and education, and local food production.
-posted August 3, 2012
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