Steering Committee selection process complete
After weighing job qualifications that ranged from leadership and communication skills to a commitment to share information, the 45-member Central Delaware Riverfront Advisory Group finalized all representatives to the group’s Steering Committee.
The process of selecting the Steering Committee was one of the first steps in an initiative to develop a master waterfront plan that respects and communicates the needs of all local residents, local businesses and the broader interests of all residents of Philadelphia.
“The goal here is to advance all the peoples’ work. We can see the benefits to acting together on this,” said PennPraxis director Harris Steinberg, whose office is serving as the prime consultant for the venture. “This is a change in paradigm for Philadelphia.”
The charge to the 12-member Steering Committee involves creating a robust and frank dialogue between the grassroots riverfront communities and the advisory group members.
While the Steering Committee will not function as an executive or policy making body, it will help the advisory group advance the public discourse that will be the most crucial link for the exchange and dissemination of ideas throughout the planning process.
Harris Sokoloff, an expert in civic engagment with the Penn Graduate School of Education, helped facilitate the selection process and made it clear that the process would be daunting in the sense that members of the Steering Committee must balance the needs of their individual communities with the goals of the overall waterfront project.
“You will be like those Chinese dolls that fit inside each other,” Sokoloff told the group. “”You will have layers of responsibility, to individual civic associations, to the civic associations as a whole and to the overall good of the city.”
The representatives of three civic associations in the southern tier of the 7-mile long riverfront target area were the last to agree on who would represent them.
Fred Druding, Jr., of Whitman Council was selected. Kirk Brown of the Dickinson Narrows Civic Association is the alternate.
Steinberg stressed the multi-directional communication role that would have to be mastered by the members of the steering committee.
“Essentially, the steering committee will bring information from people outside the advisory group to the advisory group as well as carry information from the advisory group back out to the community. This is a citizen-driven process that is as apolitical as possible. This is all about the people of Philadelphia.”
The members of the Steering Committee are: Janice Woodcock, Executive Director of the Planning Commission; Jennifer Lewis, Northern Liberties Neighbors Association; Steve Weixler, Society Hill Civic Association; John Childress, Executive Director African American Chamber of Commerce; Paul Levy, Executive Director, Center City District; Stephanie Naidoff, Commerce Director, City of Philadelphia; Frank DiCicco, councilperson, 1st District; Shawn McCaney, William Penn Foundation and Fred Druding, Jr., of Whitman Council.
Civic Association alternates are Sandy Salzman, New Kensington Community Development Corp., Cynthia Philo of the Old City Civic Association and Kirk Brown of Dickinson Narrows.