Re-visioning Vacant Lots at 6th and Diamond

By: Kara Murphy

1_6_2This past Saturday, March 14th, marked the first of three events organized by Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities aimed at facilitating future vision plans of three locations in North Philadelphia. This most recent event was focused on the vacant lots located at the intersection of 6th and Diamond Streets. Acting as a design charrette, which is a consulting and planning session, this event explored the ways in which the lot can be transformed into a community green space, offering different stormwater management infrastructures that could be implemented as well as other recreational elements for the location.

1_4The event was held at the apartment complex off of Temple University’s main campus, “Paseo Verde”, where representatives from the Center of Sustainable Communities and the partnership organization Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, led an interactive and open discussion with community members on the possible implementation plans for the location. After a short introductory lecture on stormwater management and displaying the different ways to adjust the lot to benefit the surrounding community, the event then transitioned into a workshop where attendees were broken into four groups to develop frameworks for the lots reconstruction.

During the workshop, each group was provided a map of the location with icons that represented different elements that could be implemented in the project plan. Some of these icons include elements spoken about in the introductory lecture such as a rain garden, different community garden options, landscaping options and recreational options such as a playground. Each group was accompanied by a student from either the architecture or community and regional planning department to work alongside community member’s and help layout attendee’s visions for the lot and brainstorm how to go about representing their visions on the map provided. One community member and active participant within one of the workshop groups was a young community member who vocalized some of her planning thoughts once all the maps were presented. The particular map she helped construct included a play area where she and other children in the neighborhood could play and enjoy.

2_2The overall consensus of the workshop highlighted how community members hope for this location to not only offer stormwater management infrastructures but elements that would allow this lot to be transformed into a community gathering spot. Acting as a neighborhood pocket park, it was mutual among community attendees that this lot has strong potential to become a green space where neighbors can gather and enjoy. Each of the four project plans presented offered layouts that would allow this space to a community friendly location for residents to use recreationally. Revealing the strong potential this lot has to be a beneficial and unifying addition to the surrounding community, this event was a successful start to events to come discussing other locations in north Philadelphia on stormwater management.

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Community design charrette – vacant lots at 6th and Diamond

These photos are from our first community design charrette on 3/14/2015 to integrate green stormwater infrastructure and community recreational facilities on two vacant parcels at 6th and Diamond. The charrette participants came up with some great design ideas to turn two vacant parcels into neighborhood assets. Event location: Paseo Verde, Asociacion Puertornquenos En Marcha. A blog on this event is coming soon!

Photos by Sanjana Ahmed

Sustainability Club Offers Ideas for Schoolyard

By Jason Hachadorian

“We want a basketball court,” shouted a Memphis Street Academy student during a brainstorming session held at his school.

On Monday, February 23, 2015, members of Memphis Street Academy’s Sustainability Club developed visions for their schoolyard, offering ideas such as basketball courts, play areas, gardens, trees, and a green roof. Part of a visioning exercise focused on potential stormwater management projects and recreational facilities, the students discussed different ways to manage runoff on the school property, which is almost completely paved.

Led by Temple community partner Michaela Allwine, New Kensington CDC’s Block Programs Coordinator, the afternoon began with a demonstration on urban stormwater runoff using a neighborhood stormwater management model provided by the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP). On the first attempt, water was poured over the model without any stormwater controls. Students noticed (and splashed) the many puddles and flooding that occurred. On the second attempt, members of the Sustainability Club placed sponges and miniature rain barrels throughout the model. When water was poured this time, students observed how the sponges and rain barrels absorbed the water and prevented the puddles and flooding.

After briefly discussing stormwater, runoff and sewer systems, the Club split into two groups to design their visions for the schoolyard on large maps. Using both markers and cutouts of potential projects, each group prepared a different plan for their ideal schoolyard. Popular ideas included benches for sitting, free-play areas, fruit trees (pear and apple, only!), vegetable and flower gardens, green roofs, rain barrels, and various playing facilities (both a basketball court and football field were proposed).

“After each group developed their plans, they presented their ideas to the other members. While each design was different, members of the Club agreed on some key issues facing the surrounding neighborhood, including trash accumulation”, reports Dr. Mahbubur Meenar, assistant director of Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities and the Principal Investigator of the EPA-funded Urban Waters Small Grant program.

The Sustainability Club’s ideas will be discussed during a design charrette to be held at Memphis Street Academy on March 26, 2015 from 6 to 9 pm. To RSVP, please email mallwine@nkcdc.org with your name, residential zip code, and organizational affiliation (if any).

Memphis Street Academy Design Charrette: Help Envision a Plan for the Schoolyard

On March 26, 2015 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Memphis Street Academy (2950 Memphis Street), NKCDC and Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC) will be partnering to host a design charrette for the schoolyard at Memphis Street Academy.

memphis_map

2950 Memphis Street: Location of schoolyard at Memphis Street Academy

The CSC and NKCDC have formed a partnership for this project, sponsored by EPA’s Urban Small Waters Grant program (2014-2016).  The charrette will involve a short presentation by Temple University faculty followed by a small-group interactive design activity for the site, focusing on recreational spaces and stormwater management.

The event will conclude with each group presenting their vision for the schoolyard.  Participants will discuss the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure, and play a vital role in transforming the schoolyard into recreational and community assets.  A professionally designed conceptual site plan will be developed following the charrette, based on participants’ ideas and visions for the schoolyard.

This is a free public event – both materials for the design activities and food will be provided.

RSVPs are required by February 26, 2015.  Please email mallwine@nkcdc.org with your contact information to be added to the guest list.