Monday, November 06, 2006

Day 1 of Philadelphia's Riverfront Planning

It was quite a sight for 8 a.m. on a Monday morning. Some 60 or 70 city policy wonks and neighborhood activists crammed into the big meeting room in Philadelphia's One Parkway building - all of them free associating about their "hopes and dreams" for the seven-mile stretch of the central Delaware River. There were three state reps - Marie Lederer, John Taylor and William Keller - managing director Pedro Ramos, Center City's Paul Levy, the RDA's Johnny Doc, Councilman Frank DiCiccio, PennDot's Rina Cutler, city planning director Janice Woodcock, and representatives from at least 15 river ward neighborhood groups.

But unlike the typical meeting attended by such muckety-mucks, these people were being participants - rather than deciders - at the Central Delaware Riverfront Planning Advisory Group's first meeting. With the help of MC Harris Sokoloff who did a similiar job facillitating for the Penn's Landing Forums, the group was asked to imagine the kind of waterfront environment where they would like to spend time. The brainstorming was the first step in a year-long planning process being overseen by Penn Praxis, the U of Penn group that has been assigned the task of rethinking Philadelphia's long-neglected central waterfront.

Although the participants obviously have their own agendas, it was nice to see them in the role of ordinary citizens. The "hopes," which were typed into a computer by Janice Woodcock and projected on a screen, included what you might expect from anyone: a clean, safe, accessible waterfront with recreation paths, public amenities, housing development and room for the remaining waterfront industry to thrive.

There will be several more brainstorming sessions, all open to the public, before Penn Praxis hires professional planners and designers in January. But these sessions are crucial to articulating the assignment that will be given to the experts.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so are they gonna stop the casinos, or what? At the very minimum they should come out against Foxwoods. Putting casino's at both ends of the waterfront would render this planning effort an exercise in futility.

A cynic would say that this group is intentionally packed with people who will NOT come out against casinos. A worse cynic would say that this group is designed to distract everyone from the stop-the-casino effort. Please, prove me wrong.

Once the casinos are licensed, then this group (and the politicians that are sponsoring it) can tell us that they did what they could. But will anyone hear them over the noise of the traffic?

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The worst cynic of all does not attend and sits on the sidelindes and complains.

How do you propose that they "stop" casinos? Its ok to be angry about the coming of casinos but don't take that out on a well-intentioned plannning process that people have been clamoring for for a long time. Would you rather we have casinos and no planning at all?

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the group should have taken an immediate and unanimous vote against 2 casinos on the waterfront. That would at least send a message. That would have been easy and it would have had some effect, at least in the court of public opinion, which is something that the Gaming Control Board is sensitive to.

If I had to choose either (1) casinos plus planning, or (2) no casinos and no planning, the choice is pretty easy: Door #2.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would take casinos and planning. And I wouldn't be the only one.

Stop griping, we're busy.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When are people going to realize that the locals have absolutely no say about where (or if!) casinos come to philly? The die was cast last year with the legislation passed by the state. If the anti-casino people really want to stop casinos from coming to Philly, then they have to get heard by the state reps and senators. Considering that most of them voted for the casinos and two of our representatives (Rep. Perzel and Sen. Fumo) were the architects of the legislation, the idea of stopping the casinos is pretty much dead in the water.

The Gaming Board will decide where the casinos will go by the end of December. The best we can do is work those casino plans into the overall plan for the waterfront. The city, through this plan, can do its best in making the casinos simply a part of the waterfront and help integrate them as much as possible in new development.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous wah wah wah said...

Calm down for an instant while I call the wah wah wahmulance for you.

You want peace and quiet move to Perkiomenville. The offspring of 20th century Philadelphians are showing their true colors. They are also showing why we are 40 years behind NYC and Chicago in the moderanization of the city.

I hate the people that live here. Pathetic.
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Anonymous said...
Ok, so are they gonna stop the casinos, or what? At the very minimum they should come out against Foxwoods. Putting casino's at both ends of the waterfront would render this planning effort an exercise in futility.

A cynic would say that this group is intentionally packed with people who will NOT come out against casinos. A worse cynic would say that this group is designed to distract everyone from the stop-the-casino effort. Please, prove me wrong.

Once the casinos are licensed, then this group (and the politicians that are sponsoring it) can tell us that they did what they could. But will anyone hear them over the noise of the traffic?

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well gee . . . thank you Mr. and Mrs. Casino Public Relations Firm!

What does gambling have to do with modernization?

C'mon, stop taking a personal pot-shot at me. That's too easy. Say what you really mean: that you think making Philadelphia the home of more slot machines than any urban area in the USA will be good for the residents of Philadelphia.

It's a joke and so are your transparent comments.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank Ed Rendell for the casinos. I held my nose as I voted for him this morning.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so negative....keep it positive and constructive.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The worst thing that can happen to the waterfront is the Foxwoods Casino. The principals behind this casino are ED SNIDER and RON RUBIN.

This would be terrible for Philadelphia.

Do ED SNIDER and RON RUBIN really care about Philly? By pushing for a casino on the waterfront in South Philly . . . the answer appears to be no.

12:36 AM  
Anonymous VINCE DEAN said...

THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO THE WATERFRONT IS NOTHING AND THAT'S BEEN HAPPENING FOR FAR TOO LONG ! CASINOS CREATE LIFE, SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN LACKING ON DELAWARE AVENUE SINCE THE DEMISE OF THE NIGHTCLUBS.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince, a lot of other things can create life on the waterfront, too. Things that won't exascerbate the existing traffic problems. Things that won't draw seedy individuals to the area. Things that won't suck poor people's money down a drain. Just because they create life doesn't mean they don't also destroy it.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty amazing that Street actually appointed somebody to the head-planner job and put an organization like Penn Praxis in charge of making a specific plan for the waterfront. This is the result of months of hard work by many voters and activists who are finally holding government accountable. Keep up the good work, folks.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I missing something here, or is Trump Street not one of the leading bids to win one of the two licenses.

I didn't realize East Falls was on the Delaware River.

You suburbanites just like something to complain about -- Perkiomenville...HA!

9:54 AM  

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