Funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Temple University will help plan for health, environmental and economic improvements for Philadelphia’s Kensington area residents through the cleanup and reuse of brownfield properties in a 161-acre area which is part of the North of Lehigh neighborhood.
EPA awarded a $200,000 Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grant to Temple University to develop the project.
“I’m pleased to announce that Temple is the first university to receive an EPA Brownfields area-wide planning grant,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Helping build healthy and resilient communities is an EPA priority. This funding to Temple underscores the University’s environmental leadership and commitment to improving the health and future of its neighboring communities.”
With the EPA funding, Temple University’s Center for Sustainable Communities will collaborate with New Kensington Community Development Corporation and leaders from community and city organizations including the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Conrail, and SEPTA Police Department to engage the community in planning and designing future uses of brownfield properties.
“Temple University strongly believes in university-community partnerships,” said Dr. Jeffrey Featherstone, Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities. “With generous support from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning grant program, we will work with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation on numerous community outreach and visioning exercises, including participatory photo mapping, focus groups and design workshops. We will also arrange a number of community meetings throughout the project period. Community involvement and participation is integral to this project.”
The Center will develop an area-wide plan for a key portion of Philadelphia’s Lower North Delaware Industrial District, focusing on brownfield sites adjacent to the Lehigh Viaduct, a freight rail corridor located along Lehigh Avenue, between Kensington Avenue and I-95.
The primary focus will be between Kensington Avenue and Tulip Street, according to Dr. Mahbubur Meenar, Assistant Director of GIS Operations and Research for the Center for Sustainable Communities and an adjunct faculty member in Temple’s Department of Community and Regional Planning.
“The project area exemplifies the cumulative detrimental effects of a formerly industrial neighborhood -- a distressed community left behind with significant social, public health and environmental justice concerns. There are also striking public health concerns within the community, including lack of healthy food availability and accessibility to open space,” said Meenar.
Nationwide this year, EPA awarded approximately $4 million in area-wide planning grants to 20 communities in 16 states. The funds will be used to engage communities and conduct planning for Brownfields revitalization.
Strategies for site reuse often lead to increased opportunities to leverage public and private investment and strengthen local economies. Since 1995, EPA has awarded 13 brownfields grants totaling $4.6 million to assess and cleanup sites and provide job training in Philadelphia.
In addition to the collaboration of local efforts, the partners and Temple will be able to benefit from of state and federal collaboration with transportation, housing, employment and economic development agencies.For more information, visit EPA’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities webpage.