South Philadelphia

With help from Residents, Point Breeze Vacant Lot Is Becoming a River-Protecting Green Space

Point Breeze Cleanup & Block Party - June 2017

After two hot hours of picking up trash, weed-whacking, and sweeping at a vacant lot in Point Breeze, PowerCorps PHL’s Desmon Richardson, on hand with fellow crew members to bring some added muscle to the effort, suggested lining the small, triangular space with unused rocks from a pile sitting in the middle of the site.

Neighbors who’d been helping agreed: the natural-looking border was the perfect finishing touch for the renewed lot, concluding a sticky Saturday morning spent cleaning up the local eyesore.

Members of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Public Engagement team joined the local non-profit Diversified Community Services and area block captains on June 10 to clean the publicly-owned lot at Point Breeze Avenue and Mifflin Street—the future home of a rain garden that will soak up stormwater and bring regular maintenance to the site through Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program.

Similar efforts in other neighborhoods have led to dramatic improvements at formerly nuisance-plagued lots, something locals are hoping to repeat here.

‘Love Your Park’ Event Aims for Community Building Around Green Infrastructure Projects

In this post, Amanda Krakovitz, a recent Penn State grad now working with the Philadelphia Water Dept. through the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and SERVE Philadelphia program, talks about an event she helped plan to build community engagement around Green City, Clean Waters projects in South Philly.

Amanda Krakovitz helps provide information about the Green City, Clean Waters program and upcoming projects.
VISTA Amanda Krakovitz helps provide information about the Green City, Clean Waters program and upcoming projects.

By: Amanda Krakovitz,
SERVE Philadelphia Water Ambassador

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Friends of Mifflin Square are teaming up this year on November 12 for Love Your Park Day, a city-wide volunteer effort dedicated to cleaning up our parks that’s organized by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

PWD and the Friends group are taking the lead on the clean-up of Weinberg Park, located at 6th and Jackson Streets, just a block from Mifflin Square. Volunteers will meet at noon and help pick up trash, paint benches with Mural Arts and learn about upcoming green infrastructure projects in the park. There will be a rain drop building activity for kids and drinks and snacks for everyone.

Tour Two Point Breeze Vacant Lots Targeted for Green Improvements


The rendering at right shows a rain garden proposed for a vacant lot at 1900 Point Breeze Avenue. PWD will be touring this site and a second vacant lot on the 1700 block of Ringgold Street.

We kicked off October with a ribbon cutting at a formerly vacant lot at 55th and Hunter streets in West Philadelphia that is now a vibrant green space featuring a rain garden and hidden storage trench that manage stormwater and protect local waterways while adding a whole new asset to the neighborhood.

On October 18, we’ll be holding a walking tour at two sites in Point Breeze where similar rain gardens could bring flowers and plants to vacant lots, adding new green spaces to the area and helping to protect the local watershed. Join us at 5pm at 1701 Ringgold to start the tour:

This map shows where PWD will meet for the Oct. 18 vacant lot tour.

Photos: Green City, Clean Waters Gets Cheers at Smith Celebration

Philadelphia Water joined other City partners and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin in breaking ground on a Smith Recreation Center makeover that includes extensive green stormwater infrastructure. Click to see photos from the event.

Philadelphia Water joined other City partners and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin in breaking ground on a Smith Recreation Center makeover that includes extensive green stormwater infrastructure. Click the image above to see more photos from the event.

You might think it’d be hard for green stormwater infrastructure to get much attention when you have a star NFL player (Connor Barwin) talking about fun things like a completely renovated recreation center and the new athletic fields and basketball courts coming to Smith Playground in South Philadelphia.

We Say Goodbye to 2015 (and a Green Champion) on Monday at Smith Playground

Mayor Michael Nutter speaks at the ribbon cutting for Ralph Brooks Park. Philadelphia Water will join Nutter for one last celebration of green infrastructure and community collaboration on Monday, December 28. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Mayor Michael Nutter speaks at the ribbon cutting for Ralph Brooks Park in August. Philadelphia Water will join Nutter for one last celebration of green infrastructure and community collaboration on Monday, December 28. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

We’re joining Parks and Recreation and closing out 2015 with a ground breaking celebration for a big, very cool project: the revamp of Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson streets in South Philadelphia.

As the second playground project chosen by Urban Roots and the Make the World Better foundation, Smith Playground will get a full, $2.5 million makeover in the coming months. It follows in the footsteps of the popular Ralph Brooks Park project, where a similar collaboration led to a full renovation that wrapped up this summer.

Bartram’s Mile Extends SRT — And Helps the Schuylkill River, Too

It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water
It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Bartram’s Mile—the first stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail to reach the river’s west bank within the city—is an exciting public-private partnership that will add a beautiful new mile-long greenway to the Schuylkill River.

Partners on the project, which broke ground on November 23, include Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the William Penn Foundation and Bartram’s Garden.

You can read a good Philadelphia Magazine article on the new trail segment by clicking here but, in essence, Bartram’s Mile will follow the Schuylkill River from Grey’s Ferry Avenue to 56th Street and include a new pedestrian bridge connecting South and West Philly.

This exciting improvement is designed to bring many more residents and visitors to our waterfront, which is becoming more and more popular as our rivers become cleaner and more attractive. It will also provide easy access—a new gateway for pedestrians, cyclists and more—to some local gems like Bartram’s Garden, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, and John Heinz Wildlife Refuge.

Construction of the proposed “Schuylkill River Swing Bridge”—what the east-west connector is being called—could start as early as this summer and be complete by the end of 2017, according to Plan Philly.

And (as if creating a new green amenity for the city and providing a brand new way to access the waterfront isn’t cool enough!) this project will also fight stormwater pollution with an innovative green infrastructure “greenway” on three nearby streets.

This Weekend, A Spokesdog Shall Be Crowned

At long last, the next Philadelphia Water Spokesdog will be crowned this weekend in Fishtown as up to 20 top dogs—selected by an impressive 4,100 online votes this fall—compete in a pageant to prove which pooch has the best chops for fighting pet waste pollution on our streets.

Guerin Rec Recap: We're Here to Listen

The proposed stormwater management plan for Guerin Recreation Center presented at the community meeting on October 26, 2015.

The proposed stormwater management plan for Guerin Recreation Center presented at the community meeting on October 26, 2015. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

We hold lots of neighborhood meetings for our Green City, Clean Waters projects because we value feedback from residents. Our meeting Monday at Guerin Recreation Center caught a lot of attention—over 90 people came to voice their opinions on the stormwater management project proposed for the site. We work hard to get community members involved, so we appreciate that kind of turnout.

As residents know, we've been working with Parks and Recreation and holding public meetings about Guerin improvements since 2012.

Not everyone may agree on the details of the project,

Community Meeting for Lanier Park Stormwater Improvements

You’re invited! Come out to Grays Ferry to learn about an upcoming construction project at Lanier Playground.

Located at 29th and Tasker streets, Lanier Playground has been selected by Philadelphia Water for a stormwater management project that will soak up stormwater runoff and restore the baseball field.

Please join us Thursday, Sept. 10 (rain or shine) from 6– 7 p.m. at the Universal Audenried High School Auditorium (3301 Tasker Street) to learn more about the project and what you can expect during construction. Refreshments will be served.

This project is part of Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program which works to improve the health of our local rivers. By storing rain water under the park and then letting it soak into the ground through natural processes, we can help keep the Schuylkill River clean. Philadelphia Water’s construction work will start before the overall Lanier Playground Improvement Project planned by Parks and Recreation, the Trust for Public Land, Philadelphia Water, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s Office and the community.

Click on the image below for larger version of our community meeting flyer for this event:

Meeting Flyer for Lanier Playground.

New and Improved Ralph Brooks Park Manages Stormwater with Green Tools

Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that will hold stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Top: City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles and others cut the ribbon to open Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze. Bottom: A new rain garden stretches along the basketball courts, which sit atop a storage trench that holds stormwater. The rain garden will be filled with plants next month. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

After three years of fundraising, planning, design, and construction, the Point Breeze community officially welcomed a tremendously improved Ralph Brooks Park at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The project was made possible through the collaboration of several city and state agencies, Pa. State Representative Jordan Harris, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the non-profit groups Urban Roots, Mural Arts, PHS, Philly Rising, 25th Century Foundation, Tasker Street Baptist Church and the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB), founded by Philadelphia Eagles player Connor Barwin.

That broad coalition allowed for a complete renovation of this public space, with improvements covering everything from new playground equipment and basketball courts to a community garden and green stormwater features that add to Philadelphia Water’s Green City, Clean Waters infrastructure.

The stormwater features include a rain garden at the southern end of the park, and an underground storage trench beneath the basketball courts along the western edge of the park. Combined, those green tools can manage over 16,000 gallons of stormwater—it would take 320 homes with rain barrels to store that much stormwater runoff—and the trees, shrubs and other plants add to the beauty of Ralph Brooks Park. While the ribbon cutting featured plants donated by Bartram’s Garden, the actual vegetation for the site will be planted in October, which will give the plants a better chance to become established and thrive.

“This partnership demonstrates that green infrastructure projects can manage stormwater and enhance community efforts to improve and beautify public spaces,” Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug said of the project.

More: See Photos From the Ralph Brooks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Other speakers at the event included Mayor Nutter and Barwin, who raised $170,000 for the project through a benefit concert. Philadelphia Water contributed approximately $152,000 to the project.

The Ralph Brooks renovations are part of Green City, Clean Waters’ Green Parks program, which works with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to leverage resources for park improvements and bring green stormwater tools to park sites.

Philadelphia Water is also working with partners from the Ralph Brooks project to bring similar improvements to Smith Playground in the West Passyunk neighborhood. Green infrastructure improvements at Smith are scheduled to begin construction next summer.

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