August: Comings & Goings

Peace Park Settles Disputes with Housing Authority
North Philly Peace Park, a community garden and activity space in the Sharswood neighborhood, announced an agreement with the Philadelphia Housing Authority to remain at 22nd and Jefferson streets. 

A Facebook post from July 4 states that the park “has achieved a long-term, multi-decade lease from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and has conclusively secured the park’s recognition as a permanent community-controlled green space in Sharswood, North Philadelphia.” 

The park was forced to relocate from its original spot on Bolton Street after PHA introduced a plan in 2014 to build 57 affordable housing units on the land. By that time, North Philly Peace Park already had more than 1,400 volunteers, an operating budget of more than $230,000, a staff of eight people, and established educational and food-distribution programs, according to interviews from Generocity.

“The Peace Park shall remain strong and will grow and prosper for generations to come as an autonomous urban charitable ecology campus dutifully serving the women, children and seniors of North Philadelphia,” reads the park’s Facebook post.

New Director Named at Fairmount Park Conservancy
Fairmount Park Conservancy announced Jamie Gauthier the new senior director of public partnerships. Gauthier has served as executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia and as a program officer with Local Initiatives Support Corporation. She is also a board member of PennFuture, University City District and Garden Court Community Association. 

Fairmount Park Conservancy’s previous executive director, Rick Magder, left after nine months. A statement from the organization said that the change in management was a “mutually arrived upon” decision.

MOVE Bombing Site Gets Historical Marker, But No Official Installation
A ceremony was held June 24 to unveil a historical marker for the site of the 1985 MOVE bombing—where police dropped explosives onto a communal home during a standoff and caused a fire that claimed 11 lives and destroyed about 60 homes. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission told Billy Penn in late June, however, that paperwork to secure a permanent location for the sign has yet to be submitted. 

Students from the Jubilee School successfully applied for the marker and held the ceremony at Osage Avenue and Cobbs Creek Parkway.

Sunoco Continues Damage Control After Drilling Issues in Chester County
Sunoco Pipeline LP will pay to extend municipal water mains to Chester County households whose private water wells were affected by pipeline construction in early July.

The Newtown Square-based company’s horizontal directional drilling caused some wells to stop flowing and others to go cloudy, philly.com reported. Sunoco supplied bottled water and paid for some families to stay in hotels after the problems were reported in West Whiteland Township on July 3.

After a July 17 spill of 1,500-gallons of bentonite drilling fluid in Middletown Township, state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, called for a moratorium on further construction of the project.

“The repeated, preventable spills illustrate why we need stricter safety standards for pipelines and more timely communication about pipeline activities for homeowners and communities affected by their construction and operation,” Krueger-Braneky said in a statement. 

“We’re witnessing what happens when a pipeline is constructed through a densely populated area without any regulatory agency having to sign off on its path. That is why I have asked [the Department of Environmental Protection] to conduct independent water testing in all potentially impacted private wells, as well as the Chester Creek, so that residents have independent confirmation that their water is safe. I am also working with other legislators on a package of bills to address siting safety and other regulatory gaps.”

The $2.5 billion project will deliver natural gas along a 350-mile route.

Water Stewards Test Schuylkill River During 100-mile Sojourn
More than 200 people tested drinking water in the 112-mile area spanning Schuylkill Haven to Philadelphia during a Schuylkill Action Network scholarship program held June 3 through 9. 

The Schuylkill River Sojourn provided equipment for “sojourn stewards” to paddle through the river and test the drinking water for nearly 2 million people. The findings were then uploaded to the international, education-based GLOBE program so that users around the world can compare data.

“Throughout the sojourn, the water test results showed the river staying within healthy ranges,” said Sarah Chudnovsky of Shillington, Pennsylvania, a sojourn steward who blogged and shared social media updates during the testing process. “However, we did see the amount of [dissolved] oxygen decrease as we traveled downstream from the forested headwaters in Schuylkill County. We also observed the levels of pollutants like salts, fertilizers and metals increase as we paddled through areas with increasing development, like Berks and Montgomery counties.”

Lawsuit Brought to City for Cars Parked on Broad Street Median
Political action committee 5th Square is suing the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Parking Authority following a campaign by 5th Square to get the city to enforce parking regulations on the Broad Street median in South Philadelphia. 

People commonly park their cars on the median, but authorities have for many years looked the other way. 

Advocates for bicycle and pedestrian safety say the jumble of cars in the area is dangerous.

“We’ve tried to work with the city and the parking authority to enforce the existing law,” Jake Liefer, co-founder of 5th Square, told PlanPhilly. “They have not done so, but we believe the enforcement of the law will be upheld by the court.”