Watershed Ordinance Puts Brakes on PhilaU Parking Garage

(ed NOTE: this letter was used as reference in a more detailed article posted September 20th — FULL ARTICLE HERE). 

“Don’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot!” A letter to the East Falls community from concerned residents —

Formal community opposition is growing in response to Philadelphia University’s plan to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” in the Wissahickon Valley Park. Variations of Phila U’s possible 30-year development plan have been discussed for several years between the University, community representatives, civic leaders and elected officials. Stakeholders were relieved last week to learn new information from a recent study. from a formal evaluation of the Wissahickon Valley Park topography in question, by hydrology expert, Dr. Timothy Bechtel, Ph.D., P.G. of Enviroscan, Inc.

According to the report, preliminary conclusions can be drawn that the Wissahickon will remain safe because of the watershed protection regulations in the Wissahickon Watershed Ordinance. The purpose of the Wissahickon Watershed Ordinance is that “the jewel of the Philadelphia public park system”, The Wissahickon Valley Park, remain undisturbed. Comparison of map overlays indicate that the proposed site for a transportation center lies within the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay District.

Paragraph 5 of the Wissahickon Watershed Ordinance states:

“There shall be no new impervious ground cover constructed or erected within 200 ft. of the bank of a surface water body or within 50 ft. of the center line of a swale within the WWO overlay.”

The stakeholders, civic leaders, environmental advocacy groups and City taxpayers are agreed that Philadelphia University must live up to the moment and make sustainability a real part of conversations and drafts of any possible plans going forward.

Patty Cheek and Kris Soffa

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