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

     A couple walks through a bridge in Tokyo, Japan. Check out some of the wonders and potential dangers of bridges in the last section of this week's installment of ICYMI.  (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    A couple walks through a bridge in Tokyo, Japan. Check out some of the wonders and potential dangers of bridges in the last section of this week's installment of ICYMI. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

     Happy Friday. This week’s ICYMI is brought to you (in part) by the letter “B.” As in budgets, bridges, bills and…

    Better neighborhoods

    Almost 15 years after former Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s Neighborhood Initiative, it’s hard to measure its success. The goal of the project was to transform crumbling Philadelphia neighborhoods into thriving communities by demolishing vacant properties and making homes more affordable. (NewsWorks)In Harrisburg, nearly 60 percent of homes are rental properties, which can lead to absentee landlords and neglected structures. As part of workshops to develop a new comprehensive plans, residents are meeting with city leaders to identify problems and discuss solutions. (Pennlive)Scranton’s Hill Neighborhood Association wants to buy vacant properties and transform them into gardens and parklets. Cost is a factor, but the city wants to help and a land bank may be in the future. (The Times-Tribune)In Shamokin, a magistrate who has presided over many hearings concerning blighted properties finds that this issue hits home. (The News Item)

    Bringing the arts to communities

    In Hamburg, Germany, Oberhafenquartier is a 6,000 square-meter artists’ quarter created by the city. Warehouses that were once freight depots have been transformed into creative spaces for arts groups. The pioneer tenant is Hanseatische Materialverwaltung, a nonprofit that sells props for theatre and film.  We have been reporting on Pennsylvania cities that have tried to provide affordable space for artists and other creative groups including Braddock and Oil City. The German Pennsylvania connection continues.

    This was not your typical city council meeting. Chester City Council was treated to a play about the arts and culture experience of the city. Four actors performed excerpts of a play based on interviews with residents about their cultural experiences. (NewsWorks)

    Broken buttons and street smarts

    Crosswalk buttons may have joined corporate thermostats, and elevator “close door” buttons as devices that create a placebo effect – providing an” illusion of control,” but don’t actually do anything. That’s true in some cities in the Commonwealth, but not all. In this “Streetsplainer,” PlanPhilly takes a look to see what tools make crosswalks safe. (PlanPhilly)

    Some may call them streateries while others refer to them as parklets, but plans to replace parking with outdoor dining has come to fruition in Easton. (LehighValleyLive)

    Sydney has a great idea: solar powered parking signs that display different restrictions depending on the time of the day. This project makes for less clutter and more clarity. (CityLab)

    Budgets, bills and blame

    As we conclude the third week of the budget impasse, legislation that could bring relief to municipalities is on hold.If a budget isn’t passed by August, Pennsylvania service providers that receive state subsidies may have to cut payroll. (Newsworks)Not forgetting the 2009 budget stalemate that wasn’t resolved until October, county officials are concerned that they may have to also cut back on services. (Altoona Mirror)Another effect of the stalemate: bills don’t get passed, including two bills that would provide more options for crime victims to collect court mandated restitution. Currently, only 12 percent of victims receive compensation. (WESA)There is plenty of blame to go around for Harrisburg’s financial crisis. As part of Harrisburg’s debt reorganization, county and city employees were released from civil liability. Governor Wolf and the Department of Community and Economic Development are considering how to seek civil damages from private sector parties that were involved in the crisis.

    Former Mayor Stephen Reed was indicted by a grand jury last week. In a press conference, Attorney General Kathleen Kane commented that “he was arrested for his role as the mastermind in a pattern of corruption that spanned approximately 20 years.” Reed’s tenure as mayor ended after seven terms, a total of 28 years. Given his alleged misdeeds, we examine where Pennsylvania stands on term limits for elected officials.

    Bridges

    Yes, we have covered structurally deficient bridges. But we also recognize the genius, wonder, majesty, and potential dangers about bridges. 

    The limitations of bridges need to be respected and observed. Nearly 100 trucks drivers have crashed into one bridge in North Carolina because they didn’t follow posted signs concerning height restrictions. (CityLab)

    Here are photos of the world’s weirdest bridges, including a fire-breathing dragon, and bridges that resemble roller coasters and ferris wheels. (The Weather Channel)

    From the oldest to the longest, this blog has it all for bridge enthusiasts. Can you name the eight types of bridges? (Explainthatstuff!)Have a beautiful weekend!

     

     

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