June 13: Soda tax revenue | Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline hearings | Penn’s Landing as central park

The city is about $20 million short of its projected $46 million in soda tax revenue, reports Billy Penn’s Mike Dent. The Mayor’s Office’s Mike Dunn says that the city “anticipates reducing the soda tax revenue projections for fiscal year 2017,” but is unlikely to revise its long-term projections. Anecdotally, opponents of the tax have complained about decreased beverage and overall sales as well as lost jobs, but Dent writes that “data recently totaled by the city illustrates a rise in wage taxes compared to last year and previous years for industries related to food service, grocers, distributors and bars and taverns, suggesting the impact may not be widespread.”

Did you know that Rittenhouse Square, unlike other public squares, never served as a burial ground and began with a “working class vibe” with a history “includes the likes of bricklayers, coal heavers and Irish servants”? PhillyVoice’s John Kopp goes into the Square’s early days, contemporary scientist David Rittenhouse, and the steady landscape improvements that turned “Goosetown” into the neighborhood that it is today.

Pittsburgh City council will introduce legislation to allow the city pay to replace customer-owned lead connections affected by the mandatory lead service line replacements by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, the Post-Gazette reports. The Peduto administration, which crafted the bill, believes that the city needs to “to take ownership of the problem on behalf of the homeowner — because this is a public safety issue” after elevated lead test results triggered a federal remediation rule requiring the authority to replace at least 7 percent of its lead service lines each year on the pubic side of the line, while homeowners have to pay for private, customer-owned section of line.

The new Penn’s Landing Park will be the key connector to “stitch the city back to its origin and its historic life-blood, the Delaware River,” but Hidden City’s Nathaniel Popkin also sees the cap project as an opportunity to “invigorate and realign (in the urban imagination at least) the experience of Independence National Historical Park.” Popkin hopes that the improved connections – especially if the Park Service and Penn’s Landing planners collaborate – will give the city the central park that it has been waiting for. 

State environmental regulators are hosting four public hearings this week to accept public comment on the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, StateImpact PA’s Marie Cusick reports. Before Williams, the company building the pipeline, can begin it needs the Department of Environmental Protection to approve the permits which “authorize earth disturbance and water crossings,” and to secure approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At Monday’s hearing in Lancaster County, proponents of the project say that the pipeline is “vitally important to the productive sector of our Commonwealth’s economy,” and that “manufacturers depend on affordable natural gas to remain competitive,” while some affected landowners are furious that Williams is being allowed to use eminent domain to take private land. 

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