PennPraxis Plan Unveiling at Seaport Museum Tonight

Come out to the Seaport Museum, beginning at 5:30PM, festivities to begin at 6:30PM. There’s refreshments and free parking too. Harris Steinberg, executive director of PennPraxis, the group that’s been steering the community-driven plan for our Delaware Riverfront, will be handing over the results of the year long process to the City and to citizens. Michael Nutter will be there to let us know what he’s willing to do, and representatives of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group (full disclosure: I’m a NABR delegate) will be there to show that the citizens involved in this process intend to see it all the way through from the reform of Penn’s Landing Corporation to the set-aside of a 100 foot greenway along the water.

NABR has long been dedicated to sensible planning for the riverfront and insisted on the rights of Philadelphians to have public access to their river. Tonight will mark the first of several practical steps that must be taken to reach this goal. Read the Inga Saffron’s take here: Call to Reform Penn’s Landing Corp.

I’ve been out of town, but when I returned I was sad to see that the state of Pennsylvania had signed a deal with the Army Corp of Engineers to dredge the river. The article noted that New Jersey is skeptical that the river will ever be able to actually be dredged, but PA just keeps ignoring all the reasons to proceed with caution if at all. Here’s the article: Agreement Signed to Deepen Delaware River.

The General Accounting Office has twice referred to this project in congressional hearings as a taxpayer boondoggle, returning 42 cents for every dollar spent. The Delaware Riverkeeper has analyzed the project and found that it will only promote efficiencies for oil companies, and will in fact cost small business lighterboat jobs downriver. On top of that, the environmental damage has hardly been calculated not just from churning up god-knows-what toxins under the mud, but also from dumping the spoils somewhere.

People drink the Delaware water. Humans need water to live, a fact that seems lost on our Governor and other leaders sometimes. Add also, the prediction that the sea level in the Delaware will actually rise 16 to 24 inches over the next 100 years due to natural sinking of our region as well as the effects of climate change. Finally, in their single minded pursuit of channel dredging, the leadership of the Philadelphia Port has failed to pursue other promising avenues for growth, most particularly in the North-South trade.

Trade has been growing in the Port for the last seven years despite this ineptitude, but in Camden and other ports, it’s been booming. It’s a source of constant irritation to me that operations there are not more transparent. But that’s par for the course in PA. Nonetheless, I am still heartened by Nutter’s leadership in all areas. He recently put the public and the powers that be on notice that the Planning Commission will now be making planning decisions. No more “let’s make a deal” he said. No more parcel by parcel development. And he appointed Mark Alan Hughes to lead his Sustainability cabinet and effort. Read more at Our Mayor has also initiated a series of public hearings to develop a policy about diversity hiring in the building trades.

2008-06-26 16:59:06

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