After a two-year community-based land study process, Philadelphia’s Interface Studio, a planning firm hired by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), released the Eastwick Public Lands Strategy (EPLS) on July 26. The document lays out a strategy with options for mixed-use development — residential, open space and commercial space — for about 200 acres in the Eastwick neighborhood.
The Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) weighed in on the strategy document in a public comment submitted on October 31, prepared with facilitation from the Law Center. Stating that the proposal is “in conflict with the goals and framing questions that formed our evaluation criteria,” the most important of which is protecting residents’ safety. EFNC is concerned with two primary aspects of the proposal:
- it fails to thoroughly and convincingly address flooding threats; and
- the PRA is not providing adequate opportunity for “public participation in major decisions as the planning and development process moves forward.”
Going forward, the onus is on the PRA to prove to Eastwick citizens that these concerns are satisfied before moving ahead with requests for proposals and finalized plans for development. With climate change increasing extreme weather events, flood mitigation in low-lying communities like Eastwick is more important than ever. Next steps will include a more extensive land survey and further analysis of the proposed development. EFCN also is pursuing negotiations with a national conservation organization to purchase an ecologically sensitive land tract, and donate it to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, permanently protecting it from any future development.
EFNC’s concerns were profiled in this article in PlannedPhilly: City to survey land in flood-prone Eastwick before soliciting developer bids.