Keeping up with Councilman Jones and the PhilaU Plan

Jones tours the PhilaU campus to better understand its development plan.

Jones Tour PhilaU4.RETOUCHED

Curtis Jones continued his research into the PhilaU Plan last month with a tour of Philly U’s campus. Accompanied by neighbors from Timber Lane and Apalogen Road, the tour covered lots of ground and the better part of two hours, as recapped by Jon Berger in his letter afterwards:

Dear Friends:

Under a warm sun and low humidity a group of concerned neighbors met with Curtis Jones Jr. to tour the Philly U campus and trade ideas about how to improve the U’s proposed 30 year land use plan. 

A big thanks to Curtis for his patience and stamina as we walked and talked for almost two hours. We carried a large blow-up map of the plan mounted on display board that showed the real and imagined buildings.

As our group strolled along and thru the campus, various members navigated and narrated the route by use of the map. Councilman Jones frequently asked questions about how to orient the map and exactly where we were in relation to the land and buildings of the surround.

Our tour left no stone unturned as we visited many sites proposed for development and some that were not in an effort to see how the plan would spread out development to every corner of the U’s extensive property. 

The tour covered Raven Hill, The Nuts, Vaux Street, Warden Drive; Timber Lane; the unnamed lane that runs along the side of the softball field; the site of the proposed garage in the ravine that leads to the Wissahickon Gorge; Independence Plaza; Cherry Lane; and part of the main campus.

In a free flowing discussion various members of the group  and Curtis Jones Jr. made the following points:

(1) Not blind opposition to progress but opposition to blind progress

(2) Maintain contiguous open space

(3) Protect community, historical, aesthetic, and environmental values as the basis of a plan

(4) A plan must and should accommodate all of the U’s well documented and demonstrated needs for residential, recreation, and teaching space

(5) A plan must follow the principles of sustainability.

(6) The proposed plan allocates space for needed use but it does not accomplish points, 2,3, or 5.

(7)  The tour demonstrated that all of the U’s space needs can be accommodated and at the same time so can the protection of contiguous open space, the protection of public health and welfare, and the enhancement of environmental, aesthetic , and recreational space and concerns. 

Eastfallslocal.Garage and Watershed

A Wider Conversation Soon?

Although we’d hoped PhilaU would be invited along, it seems that Curtis’ plan for now is to gather information from the community before arranging meetings with Jeff Cromarty and other members of the U for a more inclusive discussion.

We agree with Roxborough resident Kris Soffa, who accompanied us on the tour and is a veteran of similar community/developer disagreements:

The best possible outcome is that the University will work closely with the Councilman and the community to create a sustainable plan which protects cultural, historic, aesthetic and environmental values with sustainable practices. It is hoped that this could be done with open conversation between the University and the neighbors and in conjunction with moving ahead to accommodate the University’s long range development goals.

We hope that partnership isn’t too far off and look forward to reporting comments from the U in the near future.

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