By Kellie Patrick Gates
and JoAnn Greco
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission adopted the city-wide vision portion of a new comprehensive plan – the first such venture in five decades – at a special meeting at Moore College of Art & Design Tuesday night.
Commission Executive Director Gary Jasztrab kicked off the evening’s presentation at 6 p.m. with a slideshow that presented a wish list of action points for the city, offered by planning insiders as well as ordinary folk. These included more open space, bike lanes and preservation efforts, as well as specific goals including an extension of the Broad Street subway to the Navy Yard, an east Market Street that can really be Philly’s ‘Main Street’, a waterfront lined with parks.
“We’ve listened to your ideas, and today we are proud to present that final plan to you,” Jastrzab said.
Work has already begun on the next stage of the comprehensive plan process, the development of 18 district-level plans. The district plans will produce more detailed goals for clusters of similar neighborhoods.
Alan Greenberger, commission chair and deputy mayor for planning, economic development, and commerce also cited other vital components of the city’s efforts to re-examine itself, including the Zoning Code Commission and the Citizens Planning Institute. Many recent graduates of the program were on hand. Greenberger gave a brief slide presentation that ran through the broad goals of the plan. The strategies and projects it delineates will cost, he said, about $43 billion, and will serve a city that is projected to grow by about 100,000 people to a total of 1.6 million.
While $43 billion sounds like a ton of money, Greenberger said it’s not much more than what the city would normally spend through its capital budget. The real difference is that the spending will be “more focused” on specific goals.
Greenberger also touched upon the 18 districts that planners have carved the city into, calling them a “geography that corresponds to how we think of the city . . . logical territories for what residents think of as their world.” The first two districts to be tackled will be West Park and Lower South, with special attention given to commercial corridors, transit oriented development, and land use, he said.
He told the audience that their participation is far from over. “We will be in your neighborhoods.” he said. To keep tabs on upcoming events, see the plan website, www.phila2035.org.
Greenberger reminded the audience of the Monday release of a summary of the Central Delaware Waterfront Master Plan – a detailed plan, years in the making, that outlines the city’s goals for the revamping of the riverfront between Allegheny and Oregon avenues.
None of these projects would be happening if the city didn’t have a mayor who realizes the importance of planning, Greenberger said by way of introduction. With that, Mayor Michael Nutter, just back from trying to shake money for city schools out of Harrisburg, took the stage.
“What an incredible effort,” Nutter said, inviting the crowd to give a rousing round of applause to the PCPC team. A child born now will be 24 or 25 before the plan is fully implemented, he said. “We’d like to give them a better city.”
But Nutter said that everyone in the room would witness major impacts of Philadelphia2035 over the next 15 years or so. “This is a plan that will transform Philadelphia for decades to come and it’s going to happen right in front of your eyes,” he said.
Nutter said that three years ago, he announced his intention to restore the PCPC its charter-given power to lead planning in the city, and the document unveiled Tuesday showed what they can do with that power.
The commission then adopted the city-wide vision as proposed by the planning staff, with Vice Chair Joseph Syrnick making a motion, and the rest of the group seconding it en masse.
Download the complete citywide vision or a summary at www.phila2035.org.
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