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Knight Foundation gives $4M for citywide conversation about park over I-95

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

By Jake Blumgart, Reporter | PLAN PHILLY

A newly funded citywide public engagement campaign will be designed to give all Philadelphians a chance to shape plans for a new waterfront park over I-95 at Penn's Landing, project officials said Monday.

Supported by a $4 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced on Sunday, the public engagement campaign will try to involve residents that don’t typically attend planning meetings and include outreach outside of the affluent Center City neighborhoods closest to the waterfront. The grant will go to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the entity leading the $225 million effort to cap lanes of traffic with a new public destination.

“This is meant to bring that focus beyond the adjacent communities to ensure it really is a citywide asset,” said Joe Forkin, president of the DRWC.  “How do we capture a person’s voice from across town, but who also has a desire and a right to be on the waterfront?”

It’s a particularly salient vision for a project that aims to stich over a section of the highway that sliced through numerous riverfront neighborhoods with little regard for citizen protests. Knight Foundation officials said that’s the point.

“Not to get too poetic about it, but these kinds of projects are kind of healing the scars of urban renewal,” said Patrick Morgan, program director for Philadelphia at the foundation. “This is a way to not just rely on the project itself to do that [healing], but to rely on the process of a nimble and creative citywide conversation.”