As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Changing Skyline: Pop-Up Parks Perk Up Dull Philly Spots

Need a quick getaway? May I suggest a stroll over to South Broad Street?  Look for the opening in the crape myrtles, follow the juniper-lined path down to the grove, then take a seat in one of the vintage patio chairs, grab a beer, and settle in with a book.  You might actually mistake the whoosh of city traffic for the lapping of waves.

It seems only right that an instant vacation should be held in an instant space.

The hideaway in question is the latest addition to Philadelphia’s growing collection of pop-up parks, an increasingly popular and low-cost way for cities to carve out green retreats amid the crowded hardscape desert.  This one is brought to you by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and, to be honest, it’s not really hidden.  It’s right there across from the Kimmel Center, between Spruce and Pine Streets.  It just feels as if it were a world away.

You could similarly indulge your escapist fantasies at the Porch, alongside 30th Street Station; at the University City District’s new Baltimore Avenue plaza; or at Eakins Oval.  As of Thursday, the interior of that glorified traffic circle has been outfitted with Parisian-style cafe tables and christened, “The Oval.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130712_Changing_Skyline__Pop-up_parks_perk_up_dull_city_spots.html#ksoDsGsIAxUBwmd8.99

Philadelphia’s Washington Avenue Green

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Formerly known as Pier 53, Washington Avenue Green is located at Washington Avenue, just south of the Coast Guard station and behind the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union Hall, 1301 South Columbus Boulevard.  The one-acre site on the long-abandoned pier is one of the few tracts along the Delaware riverfront that is owned by the City of Philadelphia.  It is the first of the public parks to be created by the Action Plan for the Central Delaware. Because there has been no commercial activity at that location for decades, the pier that originally had welcomed ships and freight carriers has deteriorated, and both native and non-native trees and plants took hold and flourished.

The rotted piers and eroded shoreline have become a nursery for migrating fish and a permanent home for several species of mussels.

This newly discovered habitat is being exploited and informs the park’s unique spirit.  Delaware Avenue Green has been redesigned and reconstructed as a public space on the interim trail that is planned for the southern section of the Central Delaware.

Read more: http://washingtonavenuegreen.com/

Brecknock Township Receives An Unlikely Inheritance

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It started when Brecknock Township suddenly found itself the owner of a mansion, secluded on a 47-acre wooded lot off Fitterling Road in the township.

A lawyer from Oregon, executrix of the will of a man they knew little about, Philip T. Buxton, called in 2011 to say Buxton had left the township the house and land to use for a park.  The only stipulation was that it be named for him and his late wife, Jane.

That came as a surprise to township officials.

“We were very happy to be the recipients of it,” said Jeffrey M. Fiant, supervisors chairman.

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=450358

Controlled Deer Kill To Be Conducted At Gettysburg Battlefield

Battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Image via Wikipedia

A controlled hunt will be conducted in the next six months by the Park Service staff at Gettysburg Battlefield and the Eisenhower National Historic Site to thin the deer herd by about 150 animals.  The population spiked recently to 80 animals per square mile.  The goal is 25 animals per square mile.

The hunt will be conducted at night and in areas closed to the public.  The venison will be donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg.  A portion of that will return to Adams County.  Last year 17,000 pounds of venison was donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

An overabundance in the deer population can prevent forest regeneration and stress the ecosystem.  They cause damage to private property, farms, fields and can interfere with overall park management.

Scranton Parks Slated For $400,000 Boost From Community Development Block Grants And State Funds

Downtown Scranton, looking East from West Moun...

Image via Wikipedia

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is a man on a mission in 2011.  His goal is to make improvements at two existing city parks and create a new pocket park.  Doherty hopes to use Community Development Block Grants and a $50,000 state grant from the governor’s office, which was verbally committed to by Ed Rendell.

1700 Perry Avenue was formerly the site of a school and is now a vacant lot.  Doherty thinks this site would be ideal for a pocket park.  Scranton City Council eliminated funding for the proposed park from the 2011 budget.  Undeterred, Doherty is seeking other funding as listed above and additional grants through Lowe’s, Home Depot and Kaboom.  The mayor estimates he needs $75,000 to complete the North Scranton pocket park, which will feature a swing set, playground area and bike path which will also include a small BMX trick park.  This vacant lot is a blighted property.  Creating the park will clean up blight, add more recreation and improve property values in the neighborhood.

The Clover Field Park is next on the agenda.  The Mayor hopes to add a playground area to a section of the park.  The playground area would serve neighborhood children and the children who take part in the West Side Jets junior football program. The West Side Jets use the park as their home base.  The cost for these improvements will be $135,000 and funded through the Community Development Block Grant program.

The third project will impact the Novembrino swim complex, 10th Avenue, also on Scranton’s West Side.  The deep water pool is going to be eliminated and a splash park added in its place.  Adding a splash park eliminates the need for lifeguards and cuts down on the city’s water bill.  The splash park is expected to cost $183,000.  The city is looking at their pools, which are all around 40 years old.

Doherty said “We have an obligation to reinvest in neighborhoods, stabilize them and maintain property values.”  Mr. Mayor, we could not agree more!

Quakertown Takes The “Rebranding” Plunge

The next town in my series of redevelopment success stories in Quakertown, PA.  Pottstown area residents are all familiar with Quakertown.  We even share Route 663. 

Quakertown has benefited over the years, to some degree, by their proximity to the big cities in the Lehigh Valley.  They are part of suburbia on heavily traveled Route 309.  What many people think of when they get a visual of Quakertown is the “Big Box” sprawl on 309.  However, there is more to Quakertown.

Quakertown Borough is 2.0 square miles and contained 8,931 residents according to the 2000 census.  A 2009 estimate put the population of the borough at 8,672.  The estimated median income for Quakertown in 2008 was $53,340.  The 2008 estimated per capita income was $27,000.  The City-data crime index for Quakertown in 2009 was 258.0, which is considered low.

This all sounds rather idyllic.  Why not roll with it?  However, the status quo was not good enough for Quakertown officials who felt they needed to get people excited about their downtown and what it has to offer.  Honestly, I never thought there was much more to Quakertown than Route 309, if the truth be told.  So now I am excited too!

Quakertown has come up with the all important “tag line” which is “Explore The Possibilities”.  Kind of peeks your interest further, doesn’t it!  I enjoy exploring!  Now I feel the urge to drive up to Quakertown and venture into their downtown to “explore” the possibilities!  Local officials want to make Quakertown a destination.  To that end, they hired Delta Development Group of Mechanicsburg, PA to help lead them to the promised land of redevelopment.  In addition, Quakertown has hired Marketing Solutions of Quakertown to help them identify and market their borough.

The $64,000 question:  What kind of destination does Quakertown want to be?  The winning answer is recreation, culture, shopping and dining.  To that end a logo was carefully crafted incorporating these elements.  Because Quakertown is strategically located on the edge of the Lehigh and Delaware valleys, they are marketing themselves in both areas.

Quakertown was once a manufacturing and commercial center.  With the decline of industry, Quakertown is now a bedroom community and regional shopping destination.  Quakertown has decided to work with the assets they have and improve upon them.  Instead of crying over what once was, they are embracing what is.

Click here to check out the Quakertown development organization’s website – Quakertown Alive! http://www.quakertownalive.com/

Hat tip to readers Katy and Andrew for bringing this story to my attention!

Demographic data from Wikipedia and City-data.com