September 13: Afro pick, Rizzo | Amtrak derailment ruling | Once “barren,” now dining

Projects of varying ranges of permanence dominate the news today:

A Philadelphia municipal court judge dismissed all counts against former Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian Tuesday, Jason Laughlin reports. Judge Thomas Gehret ruled that the evidence on the fatal derailment that killed eight passengers showed that “it’s more likely than not this was an accident and not criminal.”

Mural Arts unveiled Tuesday a 12-foot, 800-pound statue of an afro pick next to the Rizzo statue outside the Municipal Services Building. The temporary installation, Monument Lab’s Site 01, invokes the afro pick’s role as an article of status and cultural belonging, and in later years, symbol of counterculture and civil rights. Artist Hank Willis ThomasAll Power to All People aims to discuss identity and representation in Philadelphia. Thomas designed the piece well before the most recent Rizzo statue controversy and says “people would be making a mistake if they saw his statue as an attack either on Rizzo or the police.” Monument Lab’s purpose, WHYY’s Peter Crimmins writes, is to drive discourse on what is worth remembering: “none of those ideas will actually be built. That’s not the point.”

In more permanent development news, the Community College of Philadelphia and Radnor Property Group’s 10-story Hamilton Tower broke ground Tuesday, Curbed Philly’s Melissa Romero reports. The demolition party marked the beginning of the $150 million, multi-phase mixed-use residential development project at 440 N. 15th Street. Part of the former 1940s warehouse on site will be demolished, part will be adaptively reused and turned into underground parking; the market-rate units target international students and young professionals.

The outlook for distressed municipalities is even grimmer than ten years ago, a recent Economy League study reveals. WITF’s Emily Previti reports that unless state lawmakers update local government codes, the fiscal struggles that distressed communities in cities and the suburbs face will continue to worsen. The Economy League delves into how poorer communities disproportionately carry the brunt of the costs of law enforcement and decreasing legislative advancement that can represent dispersed populations.

Outdoor dining and the reuse of once “barren” spaces and park activations are on the rise, according to the latest CCD report. PBJ’s Kenneth Hilario highlights some key findings of the report: such spaces are currently concentrated in dense retail districts such as Old City and Rittenhouse Row, but Market East will join in on the fun once the major developments in the works are completed. CCD also covers the pop-up beer garden craze “as others have begun to capitalize on this trend.”

Hey fancy that, PlanPhilly’s hosting a happy hour panel at WHYY’s studio tonight on temporary to semi-permanent interventions to public spaces. Join Art Commission Chair Alan Greenberger, the Navy Yard’s Prema Gupta, the Land Bank’s Angel Rodriguez, PHS’s Matt Rader, and Wexford’s Joe Reagan on this timely discussion.

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