Residents of West and Southwest Philadelphia have an opportunity to add their input on how the city should look in 2035 by participating in the city planning commission’s interactive online program called “The Game.”
Although intended to be fun, “The Game” is serious.
“Philadelphia 2035 is the new master plan for the city, which we have been working on for the last several years,” said Clint Randall, city planner at the planning commission. “Right now, we are focusing on the collection of neighborhoods in West and Southwest Philadelphia and “The Game” is a new public participation tool which we are using to get more people involved.”
While the planning commission has utilized the traditional public meetings to engage residents, business owners and elected officials, “The Game” is described as a fun and unique way to also solicit responses from the community.
“The Game” is really looking at all of the medium and short term changes that the city might expect to see over the next 5, 10, 20 years,” said Randall.
What kinds of changes?
“As city planners, when I talk about changes I mean physical changes,” he said. “We’re talking about new development that might bring new housing. We’re talking about our infrastructure like public education or parks.”
Randall noted given the fiscal restraints, which affect any municipality, “The Game” will be used to help planners to determine what priorities are and where resources should be devoted.
“The biggest reason that we are using [“The Game”] is that we know that through the traditional public process, there are a lot of people whose voices aren’t heard,” said Randall.
While public meetings can be held throughout the area, Randall said there will always be people who are unable to attend.
“One thing about “The Game” is that you can still send in feedback wherever you are as long as you have a computer or a smart phone. It’s really an attempt to breakdown the barriers of communication,” he said.
“The Game” may not solve every community concern but the planning commission hopes it to keep residents informed and provide them a place to express their opinions.
So what happens after the input from “The Game” is collected?
“All of the input that we get from “The Game” is going to inform what the final version of the plan actually says for the University City and Southwest area,” he said.
Randall said the planning commission is an advisory agency and the contents of the final plan should serve as a series of recommendations that other agencies should use to guideline and implement.
“We have been getting a lot of participation in our meetings and we are getting strong participation in ‘The Game,’” said Richard Redding, the commission’s director of community planning.
Redding said the commission considers community participation as crucial and that an estimated 500 people have participated.
Residents can log onto “The Game” at several computing centers throughout West and Southwest Philadelphia including, the Kingsessing Recreation Center, 49th St. and Kingsessing Ave.; Francis Myers Recreation Center, 58th St. and Chester Ave.; The Enterprise Center, 45th and Market streets, or call the 3-1-1 call center to find the nearest computing center.
Interested residents can participate in “The Game” anytime until it ends on Feb. 18. Sign up at: communityplanit.org/PHL2035 or to locate a keyspot go to: www.phillykeyspots.org.