phila2035

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That's what neighbors in Cedar Park want to talk about at a community meeting Thursday night January 30th at People's Baptist Church at 5039 Baltimore Ave. at 6:30 p.m. On the agenda is a discussion about an informal plan to expand the Mercy Wellness Center, add parking, and possibly student housing via the taking of a string of bruised structures through eminent domain in the name of redeveloping the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue.

These could be taken

Neighbors say the proposal was developing unbeknownst to them. That was the subject of a November meeting. “Some things were brought to light at that meeting,” David Hincher, Cedar Park Neighbors' development task force chair.

Thursday's meeting is hosted by the Baltimore Avenue Business Association and CPN, and will also address the issue of blight certification presented in the Phila 2035 University/Southwest District Plan, and advocate for community input regarding city owned vacant lots.

“We want to have an open and transparent process,” said Hincher.

One of the things Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN) Director of Development Impact David Hirchner realized after the group's 2010 discussion about the Baltimore Avenue commercial corridor was the group would benefit from a set of guiding principles to further steer development in that area.

When the Phila2035 meetings to collect community input and asses various commercial and zoning launched last year, it was the perfect opportunity for CPN to supplement the larger City-run effort (the University City/Southwest Plan has since been adopted) with their own local flavor.

We wrote about the CPN survey last summer when members were collecting community input. The results were published last month. CPN received about 500 responses, in the form of 450 online and the rest through handwritten copies that were mailed out with CPN's yearly newsletter, which is mailed out to all households from Cedar to Kingsessing, between 46th & 52nd.

Soon, over a hundred new trail miles could be added to the city’s existing network, which already spans over 200 miles. The Philadelphia Trails Master Plan is a plan that describes a vision to expand the city’s trail network. It grew out of the large Phila2035 planning initiative, and exists now in draft form- it's expected to be adopted by the Planning Commission, perhaps this month.

The City’s Phila2035 planning initiative is a comprehensive effort to collect community input from dozens of Philadelphia's neighborhoods about the vision residents have for the future of their communities. Thus far, three of the eighteen plans, Lower South, West Park, and Lower Northeast, have been adopted by the Planning Commission. The next step, according to Planning Commission Executive Director Gary Jastrzab, is to conduct follow up studies that explore how the plans can be transformed into reality.

Now, “we are kind of drilling down into these general recommendations made in the different plans with an eye for implementation,” said Jastrzab.

Neighbors in Spruce Hill in West Philadelphia are attempting to build up their organization by offering free membership for new members that join the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) between now and next winter.

Some civic groups charge fees and some don’t. SHCA fees are $20 a year. The group’s more than 300 members provide an annual budget of $6,000 that contributes to the organization's efforts in the community. Current members decided to offer free membership in order to boost the group’s numbers, ostensibly increasing the budget in years to come. Ten new members had joined by early May, according to Rich Guffanti, SCHA’s database coordinator.

Lot at 43rd and Baltimore

“There’s about a dozen things we do with it,” said Guffanti. That includes handling publicity and making the community aware of local development like plans for a 92-unit building at 43rd & Baltimore. When neighbors voiced their concern about a Subway proposal at 45th and Baltimore, the group's budget contributed to community outreach efforts, though the store did eventually open. While the money is not much, for SCHA it serves its purpose.

These Philadelphia streets are made for walking. Her walk score makes her the fifth most walkable city in the nation, according to America Walks. The group provides walk scores for cities across the nation.

Philadelphia, with a score of 74.1, ranked only behind New York City, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.  The scores are based on the principles of new urbanism, and ultimately calculated using an algorithm that uses U.S. Census data, as well as locally collected information to determine how easy it is to walk around certain places.

The decay of various ornate churches dotted across Philadelphia has been a common discussion point among churchgoers and preservationists alike.  These physical manifestations of human excellence, aesthetics and ritual are being razed and/or sold to make room for single family homes designed with as much style as a politician's suit.

Mount Olive AME was torn down last year

Such was the fate of St. Boniface in Norris Square. And soon will (probably?) be that of the Church of the Assumption on Spring Garden. Yea, many churches have gone on to meet the gods.

In West Philadelphia, a church at 52nd & Chester, constructed in 1910, suffers from a collapsing roof, boarded up windows and holes punctured in its stained glass windows. Yet, according to a sign posted at the property, the Word Tabernacle Baptist Church (WTBC) hosts Sunday worship at 9:30.

Cultivate community pride. Strengthen civic groups.  Engage the youth. Hire artists. Create green spaces. These could be part of any neighborhood’s plan. More specifically, these are some of the key elements that residents in the communities that compile Lower Lancaster Avenue voiced during a 10-month planning process last year hosted in collaboration with the People’s Emergency Center (PEC).

Though commonly known as the commercial thoroughfare in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, Germantown Avenue actually begins in Northern Liberties, running between the two Piazza complexes. Traveling just a couple of blocks to the north, Germantown Ave. transforms completely, with vacant land and several blighted buildings on either side of the street. Between Master and Jefferson Streets in South Kensington, the entire west-side of the street appears to be abandoned.

As Philadelphia continues its transition into the 21st century, its Phila2035 initiative is taking shape in neighborhoods throughout the city. There have been meetings to generate community input, which will be used to inform eighteen different District Plans. Some of those visions have been adopted, like Lower South and West Park, or are underway, like in the Lower Northeast and Central districts.

Slated to kick off in the fall, the University/Southwest District Plan will seek to address the major planning issues in the neighborhoods captured in that district. To do their part, members of Cedar Park Neighbors announced a survey designed to collect input from local residents about the area that stretches north to Larchwood Avenue south to Kingsessing Ave., east to 46th Street, and west to 52nd Street.

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