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DCNR, City Officials To Unveil West Philadelphia Greenways Plan

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials will join neighborhood, city and federal leaders November 5 to roll out a master plan for transportation, recreation and open space improvements designed to enhance two major city parks and the West Philadelphia neighborhoods that share them.
           Stimulation of local “green businesses” and related jobs also is a key goal of the Park West Green Trails Initiative Plan, say supporters, including DCNR Deputy Secretary for Administration John Giordano, who will gather beginning at 10:15 a.m. at a “Public Roll-Out” at the Global Leadership Charter Academy, 4601 Girard Avenue.
            “I salute the American Cities Foundation which is spearheading this effort. The foundation has worked hard to revitalize cities and promote environmental stewardship within the community,” said Giordano. “DCNR is proud to have supported this effort.
            “I have the privilege of seeing the best of both worlds. Working for DCNR, I daily witness the beneficial ‘ripple effects’ that protecting and enhancing open space has on the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians,” Giordano said. “And living in this great city of neighborhoods, I see firsthand the many ways in which we all benefit from having a Fairmount or a Cobbs Creek Park close to home.”    
            In September 2010, the foundation partnered with Philadelphia University, West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution and many other agencies and community organizations to form a unique collaboration that is the Park West Green Trails Initiative. Its goal: create a comprehensive transportation, recreation, park and open space plan that fosters more use and better appreciation of surrounding open space.
            “Congratulations must go out for the creation of such a solid, strategic vision,” said Giordano. “All have worked hard to engage so many in the community. Special acknowledgement goes to Philadelphia University professors and students who did an outstanding job of pulling together ‘input’ from many directions.”   
            The plan’s main objectives include:
-- Creation of greenway trails connecting Fairmount and Cobbs Creek parks with Carroll Park, Parkside, Wynnefield and other West Philadelphia neighborhoods;
-- Strategies to enhance green infrastructure -- streets, vacant lots, and school yards -- and link to economic development. Street tree plantings, community gardens and planted alleyways are proposed;
-- Increased resident access to parks and recreational space, and promotion of transit safety through bike lanes, bus shelters and improved street lighting;
-- Stimulation of local business development and job creation -- an emerging green economy through a training center, tree nurseries, organic food production and other “green businesses.”
            Formation of the plan was guided by a diverse, engaged study committee of volunteer leaders from community and environmental groups, businesses, city and state agencies, and elected offices.
            Giordano said DCNR’s support of the Park West plan would continue beyond its $75,000 grant, in line with goals of the department’s Green and Sustainable Park Initiative.
            Noting the department’s Pennsylvania Outdoor Recreation Plan recently was honored as best in the nation, Giordano said DCNR stands ready with trail development guidance and expertise.
            Following Saturdays’ roll-out, master plan participants will begin to address possible future implementation and funding methods.


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