In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     Pennsylvania fall foliage (Evelyn Quek/Flickr)

    Pennsylvania fall foliage (Evelyn Quek/Flickr)

    The Friday forecast is for a beautiful fall weekend and interesting urban reads. 

    Walkable safer citiesGil Penalosa, founder of 8-80 cities, spoke with reporters at WESA in Pittsburgh. Listen to his interview and how walkability of a city is “intimately tied” to its quality of life.

    Last year, New York did it. Seattle is also considering it. Lowering speed limits are making city streets safer.

    In Philadelphia, temporarily closing streets for festivals and other events has been a been a benefit to retailers, reduced air pollution and increased exercise. (PlanPhilly)Oslo is the latest of six European cities to designate certain districts as “car free,” making way for pedestrians and bicyclists. (CityLab)Davis, California has been car-free for 48 years.  It’s open streets policy is encouraging cities to try car free weekends. (NextCity

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    To lease or not to leaseSelling or leasing assets may seem like a quick fix for financial problems, but Coatesville is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a city sells their water and sewer utilities. Harrisburg leased its parking system to state and private partners, hoping that the revenue would help the city recover its debt. It’s working, but not as well as expected. Mayor Eric Papenfuse alleges that consultants used to assist Harrisburg in its economic recovery exaggerated estimates for parking revenue. (WITF)

    Budget battle

    As the Commonwealth approaches 120 days without a budget, schools are borrowing money and social service agencies are cutting staff and programs. But Pennsylvania’s municipal pension aid remains mostly unaffected by the stalemate.

    Erie’s City School District requested a $47 million no interest loan from the treasury, which was denied. But Superintendent Jay Badams plans to join with other districts to argue that this loan would be more affordable than loans from private lenders. (Pennlive)

    Erie is hardly alone. School districts are withholding charter school payments until the gridlock is resolved. (Altoona Mirror)

    CRIZ and NIZKeystone Crossroads wrote a series of explainers about Community Revitalization and Improvement Zones (CRIZ). Results for Bethlehem and Lancaster are underwhelming.Allentown broke ground on what will become a mixed-use campus of offices, retail spaces and apartments. Called “The Waterfront,” this project will be located on the Lehigh River and was once the site of Lehigh Structural Steel. This new project is part of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), which resulted in a new hockey arena and new retail businesses.

    A new leaf

    We were told as children “money doesn’t grow on trees,” but by taking advantage of its longer fall season and its greater variety of trees than its northern neighbors, Pennsylvania could grow tourism dollars from visiting “leaf peepers.”

    Trees and parks may be just the prescription for patients with anxiety, depression and diabetes. A growing group of doctors are prescribing dosages of regular exposure to urban nature for improved health. (CityLab)

    Happy Friday!

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