Phila2035 will examine East Torresdale’s future

The Phil­adelphi­a2035 pro­ject is mak­ing its way in­to East Tor­res­dale.

Ac­tu­ally, the city’s on­go­ing, long-term civic plan­ning ini­ti­at­ive will soon be un­der­way in a host of river­front neigh­bor­hoods in the North­east, in­clud­ing Wissi­nom­ing, Ta­cony, May­fair and Holmes­burg. To­geth­er, those com­munit­ies com­prise the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s North Delaware Dis­trict, one of 18 such dis­tricts throughout the city.

Dur­ing the monthly meet­ing of the East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation on Jan. 13, City Plan­ning of­fi­cials de­livered an over­view of what res­id­ents might ex­pect from Phil­adelphi­a2035 in the months and years to come.

The pro­ject was one of two key agenda items for the ETCA. The oth­er in­volved a Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment pro­pos­al to in­stall new sew­er lines in a four square-block sec­tion of the neigh­bor­hood where homes routinely flood.

Com­munity plan­ners Larissa Kl­evan and Ian Litwin will serve as co-man­agers of the North Delaware plan­ning pro­cess. Kl­evan iden­ti­fied the slo­gan of the pro­ject as “Thrive, Con­nect and Re­new.” The ob­ject­ives are to build on the area’s strengths, frame its fu­ture and “mak­ing it hap­pen,” Kl­evan said.

The com­munity will have dir­ect in­put in­to the plan­ning pro­cess through three pub­lic meet­ings, as well as monthly steer­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings in­volving a chosen rep­res­ent­at­ive from each of the re­cog­nized com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions in the dis­trict. Dis­cus­sion will con­sider nu­mer­ous factors such as eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment, neigh­bor­hood con­tinu­ity, land man­age­ment, trans­port­a­tion, util­it­ies, open space, en­vir­on­ment­al re­sources, his­tor­ic pre­ser­va­tion and pub­lic spaces.

Loc­al stake­hold­ers will have op­por­tun­it­ies to re­com­mend “fo­cus areas” with­in the dis­trict where sig­ni­fic­ant changes can be made that will have a large pos­it­ive im­pact while re­main­ing fin­an­cially vi­able.

“These are areas where we can get the biggest bang for the buck,” Kl­evan said.

On a smal­ler scale, the Up­per Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation took part in a sim­il­ar pro­cess in 2010 and ’11. At the time, neigh­bors, the Phil­adelphia Hous­ing Au­thor­ity and city of­fi­cials were con­sid­er­ing vari­ous ideas for re­devel­op­ment of the former Lid­don­field Homes pub­lic hous­ing site.

Us­ing the Phil­adelphi­a2035 pro­cess, the civic group helped de­vel­op the Up­per Holmes­burg Neigh­bor­hood Goals and Strategies Re­port that served as a guideline for the even­tu­al ap­prov­al of a Lid­don­field re­devel­op­ment plan. PHA still owns the land, but has agreed to sell it to a de­veloper that will build a satel­lite cam­pus for Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity there.

There is no spe­cif­ic sched­ule for the North Delaware meet­ings. The three pub­lic meet­ings will likely be held at vari­ous ven­ues with­in the dis­trict, prob­ably this year. For more in­form­a­tion, vis­it the Phil­ Web page.

In the mean­time, some res­id­ents of East Tor­res­dale will have their own wa­ter drain­age prob­lems to con­sider.

Ac­cord­ing to Joanne Dahme, gen­er­al man­ager of pub­lic re­la­tions for the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment, the prob­lem area cov­ers about 42 acres of land near the in­ter­sec­tion of State Road and Grant Av­en­ue. The wa­ter de­part­ment began re­view­ing the area after re­ceiv­ing nu­mer­ous flood­ing com­plaints.

There are more than 50 res­id­ences along State Road, Grant Av­en­ue, Mil­nor Street, Fitler Street and Wissi­nom­ing Street, yet there is only one city-owned storm­wa­ter main in the area along State Road. Ad­di­tion­ally, city sew­er mains run along State, Grant and Mil­nor, but many of the ef­fected homes are not con­nec­ted to those lines. Those homes use a series of privately owned pipes and mech­an­isms to dis­pose of sewage.

The wa­ter de­part­ment dis­trib­uted a ques­tion­naire to res­id­ents, about half of whom re­spon­ded to the sur­vey. About 10 homeown­ers re­por­ted flood­ing in their yards, base­ments or both.

After con­duct­ing land sur­veys and en­gin­eer­ing stud­ies, the wa­ter de­part­ment de­term­ined that the best solu­tion to the storm­wa­ter man­age­ment prob­lems would be to in­stall new storm and san­it­ary mains along Grant, Wissi­nom­ing and Fitler. The city would pay for the new mains.

However, once in­stalled, res­id­ents would be ob­lig­ated to tie their homes in­to the new sys­tem at their own ex­pense at an av­er­age cost of about $12,580 per homeown­er. Costs would vary de­pend­ing on the length of pipe needed for each home.

Dahme ex­plained that the law pre­vents the city from in­stalling new sew­ers in any pub­lic street where the mains don’t already ex­ist. That is, the wa­ter de­part­ment can re­pair or re­place sew­ers without pub­lic ap­prov­al, but City Coun­cil must pass an or­din­ance to in­stall a new sew­er.

Dahme asked ef­fected res­id­ents to de­vel­op a con­sensus on the is­sue. If they back the wa­ter de­part­ment’s pro­pos­al, City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on could then in­tro­duce the ne­ces­sary le­gis­la­tion to en­able the pro­ject.

Once the wa­ter de­part­ment gets a go-ahead, the pro­ject could take sev­er­al years to com­plete, in­clud­ing the con­tract­ing pro­cess and ac­tu­al con­struc­tion. ••

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