Yenra : Environment : Green Cities : Urban Greening and Land Stabilization

Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street has launched a citywide effort with The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) to implement a "Green City Strategy" as part of his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). The $4,000,000 project began in July 2003 and calls for a variety of services to be delivered to neighborhoods over the next year.

Mayor Street says of the Green City Strategy, "My administration is committed to greening as an important tool for revitalizing Philadelphia's neighborhoods. Bringing green space, gardens and foliage into our neighborhoods is in the original spirit of William Penn's 'Green Countrie Towne' and makes our neighborhoods more beautiful, desirable and livable! The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has designed an effective, proven strategy for getting the job done. This is a wonderful partnership for our neighborhoods and our entire city."

NTI is Mayor Street's unprecedented commitment of resources to neighborhoods. Through NTI, the City of Philadelphia is taking aggressive action to address physical needs in its communities through better land management, code enforcement and the elimination of blight. The effort will also give attention to essential elements such as public safety, recreation facilities, retail opportunities, transportation, secure streets, cultural outlets and quality schools that are necessary for a neighborhood to thrive.

With more than 31,000 vacant lots in the City of Philadelphia, the Green City Strategy will focus on stabilizing 1,000 parcels totaling more than 1,000,000 square feet of land over a one year period and providing greening services to areas citywide. This ambitious effort will leverage the 30 years of experience PHS has in working with public and private groups to green derelict spaces with the NTI goal to stem the growth of blight in Philadelphia and begin the process of rebuilding communities.

PHS, through its Philadelphia Green program, has been investing in Philadelphia neighborhoods since the '70s and is excited at the prospect of working in close collaboration with the City.

With three decades of expertise in revitalizing communities through greening, PHS is embracing this opportunity to effect change on a scale greater than anything it has done before. This new partnership will expand greening projects, existing workshops, events, training sessions, programs and redirect them to overlap with other elements of the city's NTI program to enhance the actions and quality of the city's efforts. The Green City Strategy calls for three primary focuses of work:

Recognizing that resources are finite, the site selection process combined need with the potential for redevelopment. The process also considered citywide areas where PHS has a proven track record of success with local community organizations and where the City has committed NTI resources for demolition, housing preservation, small business development and new home construction.

Following this initial investment of resources in greening activity, additional funding will be required to maintain this work and continue these efforts.

J. William Mills III, President of PNC Bank, a strong supporter of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, also lauds this partnership, "PNC Bank, as a presenting sponsor of the Philadelphia Flower Show for the last 12 years, has seen the positive effects that Philadelphia Green makes in the local communities. Proceeds from the Flower Show are used by Philadelphia Green and invested back in the neighborhoods. It is an investment we can all embrace."