2515 Frankford Ave · Philadelphia, PA 19125 · phone: 215.427.0350 · fax: 215.427.1302
Sustainable 19125 Big Green Block Initiative
Sustainable 19125 is a broad and innovative partnership among community residents, businesses, and numerous government, nonprofit, and for profit partners with the goal of making 19125 the most sustainable zip code in Philadelphia. Sustainable 19125 works to simultaneously address health, quality of life issues, poverty alleviation, community interactions, and climate change adaptation. The 2009-2010 Sustainable 19125 focused on three initiatives: Green Blocks, Big Green Block, and the Walk/Bike/Ride Campaign.
NKCDC, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and the Office of Sustainability identified the 20 acre site bordered by Front Street, Frankford Avenue, Palmer Street and Norris Street as a location for sustainable infrastructure and education. The area, dubbed the Big Green Block, was identified in order to leverage other city investments such as the new Kensington CAPA High School, a $44 million LEED Platinum facility that is the first of the region. The area was also selected due to its proximity to the Market-Frankford El. Improving the block meant making rail transit more accessible and appealing for residents, helping the environment while saving residents money on transportation costs.
NKCDC worked with PHS and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to develop a master plan for the block identifying more than 16 locations and $2,000,000 in green infrastructure actions. This planning brought in a number of other organizations including the Department of Parks and Recreation to provide additional capital support to other areas of their property. To date they have added an additional $600,000 investment on the site.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has completed installation of two storm water infiltration basins in the parking lot at Shissler Recreation Center (also located in the Big Green Block), which will capture storm water runoff from nearby streets and the parking lot. Trees were installed in these basins, reducing the amount of asphalt and increasing tree coverage in the area. In addition, the sidewalk along Blair Street has been extended from the dead-end by the parking lot to connect with Palmer Street to the south. A rain garden is also being planned for the intersection of Trenton and Norris. “The Big Green Block is about reclaiming land that had been inaccessible to the public,” says David Elliott, the PHS landscape architect who worked with the community to design the improvements. “It transforms the landscape into an amenity and not a safety threat.”
For the Philadelphia Water Department, the Big Green Block serves as a model for storm water management for the rest of the city. “The Big Green Block collects runoff from about 11 acres, removing in excess of 11 million gallons of run off from our system on a yearly basis,” says Jessica Brooks, a Water Resources Engineer with PWD. What’s good for the environment is good for residents, too - $6 billion in estimated savings which would have otherwise gone on neighbors’ tax bill.
One of the aspects which makes Sustainable 19125 so unique is the vast collaborative effort of numerous partners. Along with PHS, PWD, the Office of Sustainability, Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Mural Arts Program, the Energy Coordinating Agency, PennFuture and many others, NKCDC worked to identify critical issues and present neighborhood-based solutions, economic feasibility and community benefits. This partner-based strategy served as a successful, innovative model that is being considered for replication within Philadelphia and at the national level and served to inform public policy and programs.
The Big Green Block is featured in a new video about Sustainable 19125, which debuted at the NeighborWorks NTI in Los Angeles. View it here!
Community notice that parts of the Big Green Block including the Palmer Doggie Depot, adjoining lots, and pathway behind Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts and adjacent to Shissler Recreation Center at Palmer and Blair will be closed for construction until March 2013. The improvements stem from a 9 month community input process to identify needs. Two public meetings held July 9th and September 6th involved more than 60 residents.
Here’s what the community identified as thematic goals:
1) Clean, green, and shade
2) Safe and healthy
3) Relaxing and multi-use
With these priorities for park usage, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society created a plan. That plan incorporates a design that reflects the history of the space as a former rail yard. Benches will be made locally out of sustainably sealed railroad ties, and the long buried cobblestones from the site will be re-exposed. The new space will include a playspace for tots, an improved dog park, seating and plantings. Please check back here and on the sustainable19125.org for more updates.
For more information on improvements to the park through the Big Green Block, contact Carla Castillo, Community Engagement Director at email@example.com, 215-427-0350 x 122.
For info on Palmer Doggie Depot, contact FNA Beautification Committee at Beautification@fishtown.org.
For info on Stan the Cutman Field, contact Pat Cain at 215-880-9583
Additional thanks to our partners: Fishtown Athletic Club, Palmer Doggie Depot, Shissler Rec, The William Penn Foundation, Penn Treaty Special Services District, PPR, PHS, PWD, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, KCAPA, and many more.