Members of the Next Great City Coalition gathered Tuesday outside City Hall to applaud advances made by Mayor Michael Nutter and his administration toward accomplishing the ten near-term sustainability goals outlined by the Coalition during the last Mayoral election. “Ten months into office, Mayor Nutter and his administration as well as the support of City Council members have helped us to accomplish five of our ten recommendations and have made progress on three more,” said Christine Knapp, Outreach Director for PennFuture , the Coalition’s lead organization.
Knapp noted progress on many of the Coalition’s recommendations including legislation passed to update Philadelphia’s Zoning Code, a restructuring in the way fees are levied on commercial properties to contribute more fairly to treatment of stormwater runoff, and initiatives to reform and fund the Park Department. But by far the most stunning advance has been the shift citywide to single stream recycling and the administration’s commitment to move to weekly collections by the end of the year.
Knapp also noted advances in tree planting, renewable energy purchase by the city and the retrofitting of city trucks to reduce diesel emissions. The City announced a program funded jointly by the EPA and monies from a City settlement with Sunoco to retrofit 88 diesel firetrucks to significantly reduce soot, smog pollutants and carbon monoxide emissions. This was part of the Next Great City’s recommendation to reduce the incidence of asthma in Philadelphia.
Noting that in school, 8 out of 10 correct is good but not in the “A” range, Mayor Nutter reaffirmed his commitment to do better and to accomplish all the goals set out in the agenda. “This is about serious business here in Philadelphia. And whether it’s green jobs, whether it’s changing our building code, whether it’s preserving the planet and being able to pass it on to our children and grandchildren, these issues have significance for city government as well,” said Nutter, “Whether it’s saving money on energy costs, or how we design buildings, the issue of good land use planning and how sustainability fits into that, obviously retrofitting vehicles, dealing with air pollution, water supply, stormwater management, all of these issues are significant here in Philadelphia and there’s no reason in the world why we not be able to get to the goal that I laid out very early on, and that is making Philadelphia the number one green city in the United States of America.”
The Mayor made an appeal to vote “yes” on the Parks initiative coming up for vote on November 4th. The ballot question proposes to merge the Fairmount Parks Commission with the Recreation Department and will, he said, be a more effective agency. “What we’re talking about is better management, greater efficiency and productivity, the synergy of these two great systems combined,” he said, “I believe that we will get more out of the combined systems than we will ever get from them separately.”
Nutter thanked the Coalition for “framing the conversation” during the Mayoral election. Since taking office, Nutter has appointed Mark Alan Hughes as Director of Sustainability, and a Sustainability Cabinet to coordinate work with every department on sustainability issues. The Next Great City, funded by the William Penn Foundation, is a coalition of 107 civic, nonprofit, environmental and labor organizations working to promote sustainability issues citywide. They published their 10 step Agenda for sustainability in January of 2007.