Sludge deal | lighter, quicker, cheaper placemaking | Episcopal Cathedral hardship case | striping trails | City Howl Help Desk closed

Sketchy outreach contracts, theater in City Council, and backroom deals are hallmarks of the contract deal struck between the city and Synagra for an updated solid-waste treatment plant below the Platt Bridge. One political operative brought in to seal the deal for Synagra was to be paid $400,000 annually over the life of the contract, which the Nutter administration nixed. In a lawsuit over that money, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell describes “a primer on how to procure multimillion dollar service contracts with the City of Philadelphia.” It isn’t pretty.

Lighter, cheaper, and quicker placemaking is catching on nationally, and in Philadelphia the approach is helping the city and its community partners improve public spaces. PlanPhilly’s JoAnn Greco went to a placemaking discussion this week where the city announced that new parklets are planned for Chinatown, Logan, South Street, and University City and said three pedestrian plazas are in the works in University City, and Northwest Philadelphia.

The Historical Commission will resume hearings on the Episcopal Cathedral’s hardship case this Friday. The Inquirer reviews the issues of this “public interest” hardship case, which would allow the Cathedral to demolish two brownstones to make way for a high-rise apartment tower that church officials say will help support the maintenance and programs of the Cathedral.

The Department of Parks and Recreation has started to stripe the trails on Kelly Drive, MLK Drive, and Schuylkill Banks, the Bicycle Coalition reports on its blog. The separation should remind people to stay to the right and use more caution and courtesy on the busy trails.

The Daily News’ City Howl Help Desk is closing up shop. In parting, Juliana Reyes shares some tips for the city and its citizens.

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