EFNC Facts Past and Present

The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition presents “Facts Past and Present” – a summary of activities through mid-July 2012:

Issue: 

The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) brings together community stake holders concerned with the future of Eastwick.  Through partnership between the Eastwick Action Committee and the Friends of Heinz Refuge, the Coalition formed in May 2012, in response to a development proposal put forth by the Korman Corporation, to build 51 two-story buildings on 35 acres in the vicinity of 86th Street, Lindbergh Blvd., and Mario Lanza Blvd., along with 1,034 parking spaces to accommodate 722 rental apartment units.  The area in question, adjacent to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, is part of a larger 128-acre green space parcel, all of which is subject to development under current agreements between the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and Korman. 

Eastwick Seeks Meaningful Community Input in Development:

The Eastwick community initiated inquiries with Korman and District #2 Councilman Kenyatta Johnson after observing surveying activity in the area of concern.  Residents were dismayed to learn that many behind-the-scenes activities had taken place without any community involvement.  Korman needs community approval to secure City Council vote to legislatively change the property zoning from single family R9A to multi-family R12 zoning.  Without first notifying the community, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a rezoning bill to City Council, to enable development to proceed.

Eastwick Seeks to Prevent the Repeat of Historic Injustices:

The Korman proposal with its lack of community involvement appears poised to repeat shameful economic, environmental and social injustices that occurred decades ago, when, in the 1950s, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority condemned and seized this land by eminent domain. 10,000 people were displaced from this peacefully integrated, middle class community known as Elmwood.  Many resettled into nearby homes built on swamps filled in by silt and cinder.  It was billed as the largest urban renewal project of its time, and it fell woefully short of its promises. These homes, many built by Korman, have subsided due to unstable foundation construction and residents continue to report consistent flooding – a great financial burden. 128 acres of land has reverted back to green space that Eastwick has come to embrace.  Korman has retained an option to purchase this undeveloped land at a price set in 1961.

EFNC Committed to Engaging the Community:

On May 1, a public community meeting was held at the AME church on Lindbergh & 84th Street. Over 65 people attended and expressed unanimous opposition to the proposed development plan.  On May 22, EFNC convened a second public community meeting at the Eastwick Wellness Center.  150 people attended to hear presentations from the Korman Company, and Councilman Johnson.  All but 2 people voted to oppose the Korman development.

At each meeting, community members have raised significant concerns regarding the lack of community involvement in and the environmental and health impacts of the proposal, particularly increased flooding impacts.

The community was spurred to action, organizing the Coalition, drafting a petition, engaging the media with press releases, and mobilizing volunteers for the next steps.

EFNC Achieved Early Victory:

Mobilized rapidly by the EFNC, over 100 concerned citizens attended the June 12th public hearing at Philadelphia City Hall, to address Bill #120418, which would have granted the proposed rezoning.  They waited patiently all day long, until the bill was addressed.  The Coalition submitted a Petition to Council, signed by 404 residents. Over two dozen people provided verbal testimony in opposition to the proposed development, including Eastwick homeowners, Sierra Club Philadelphia, Delaware Riverkeeper, Clear Air Council, Friends of Heinz Refuge, Pennsylvania Young Birders, ornithological experts, flooding engineers and more.  After four hours of testimony, Councilman Johnson was persuaded to withdraw the bill to allow for more community input.  An early victory was achieved for the Coalition!

EFNC is Convening the Community to Develop a Vision for the Future:

EFNC is committed to keeping the community aware of these issues and to advocating for equitable and meaningful participation by residents and the Refuge in the development and future of our community.  The Coalition is now focused on developing a compelling, broad-reaching plan that would embody economic, environmental and social benefits for the entire community.  We are partnering with organizations who share our vision for a plan that preserves maximum green space, and provides tangible benefits in the areas of enhanced storm water management, clean air, outdoor recreation, increased tourism connected to Heinz Refuge, educational opportunities, connecting urban kids to nature, protecting fragile wetlands and wildlife habitats, and so much more.

JOIN US!

YOU can help today by volunteering on an action committee, expressing your voices to Councilman Johnson and City Council at large, and sending tax-deductible donations to Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition, Inc.  Check our website for frequent news updates and meeting dates.

The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition is inspired by a small group of determined citizens who fought to establish Heinz Refuge in the 1970’s. EFNC is dedicated to ensuring that all stake holders have a voice in creating a healthy, vibrant, sustainable community.  The future holds great promise!

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