West and Southwest Philadelphia residents recently shared their concerns during the city Planning Commission’s Philadelphia 2035 civic engagement meeting at the Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia. Nearly 200 people attended.
“This is a real chance to sort of see to the future of your neighborhood, the areas you like to visit, that you pass by,” said Andrew Meloney, the project’s director. “This is something that we will use in a number of different ways in the future, so whether it’s the capital project that determines where money is put throughout the city, recreation centers, all get directed by plans like this.”
The comprehensive plan is part of a blueprint covering 18 districts in the city. The University City-Southwest meeting was the first community planning session for the area.
“The comprehensive plan is a charter-mandated plan, which the planning commission does on a regular basis in order to plan for the future growth of Philadelphia,” Meloney said.
At the Enterprise Center, visitors were seated at round tables with large colored maps of the city placed in their centers.
Facilitators manned each table and solicited advice, opinions and other input about the various areas depicted on the map and asked about areas of concern, barriers or what changes they would like to see in particular sections of University City and Southwest Philadelphia.
Meloney noted these are perfect opportunities for residents and stakeholders to be heard on issues involving their communities.
“It also brings people together; it does span a pretty large district,” he said. “You really get a chance to see how different people perceive the same things you see every day, and so it’s a learning opportunity.
The voice of the public is important, he said, when it is time to make suggestions to the city’s Zoning Board or Council. These plans contain the interests and concerns of the public and can be used to shape future decisions affecting areas of concern. For more information about upcoming Philadelphia 2035 meetings, visit them on the web at citizensplanninginstitute.org.
“I can’t stress enough that we want to get as many people out as possible, because we want these plans to be something that we can actually implement and if you don’t have buy-in from the public, people who say ‘I was a part of that’ then it’s never going to get really far,” Meloney said.