As part of its Green2015 plan, the Nutter administration will announce today plans to convert 500 acres of vacant lots into green spaces and parkland.
The parks discussed in the plan will be smaller and more spread out than the destination parks the city is known for (Washington Square, Rittenhouse). These small green spaces will continue to realize the mayor’s green philosophy and will rely on federal and private grants. The average cost of converting one acre of vacant lot into green space is estimated at $250,000.
A report prepared by nonprofit group PennPraxis, identifies the federal and private agencies providing grants for the parkland through what Harris Steinberg, director of PennPraxis calls the plan a “shop-your-closet” approach of converting existing land rather than purchasing new.
One of the plans goals is to provide every city resident with green space within a 10-minute (half mile) walk of their home. There are currently 200,000 residents who do not have such access. Based on this statistic, the consultants of PennPraxis urged the mayor to begin the greening in areas that already serve residents like schools and recreation centers.
Green2015 will capitalize on the knowledge that city dwellers greatly benefit from green space and its ability to reduce water pollution from runoff (the plan also concentrates on managing storm water by using porous asphalt), provide safe outdoor areas for children and parents to enjoy, raise property value and attract development. The plan will also save the city some of the $21 million it currently spends each year to maintain vacant lots.
Mayor Nutter will release the report Tuesday morning at the Gathers Recreation Center in North Philadelphia which is one of the first sites to be greened. Nutter and the commissioner of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, Michael DiBernardinis, will also be speaking at the Academy of Natural Sciences at 6pm as part of the Academy’s Urban Sustainability Forums.