ViaductGreene Receives Grant, Moves Forward Despite OppositionBy William Yang |
One nonprofit advocacy group is reimagining remnants of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway as the city’s next great civic space.
The Community Design Collaborative just awarded a service grant to ViaductGreene, an organization with the vision of a single, connected linear park comprised of the above ground Reading Viaduct and the submerged railway (the City Branch) that runs west along Pennsylvania Avenue behind the Barnes Museum.
ViaductGreene was one of 13 nonprofit organizations awarded a service grant from The Community Design Collaborative, which helped assemble a community task force with leaders from different city districts, governmental agencies, and community organizations.
Their focus is to develop conceptual designs to transform a section of the underground City Branch railroad into public space.
“The impact to the area and city as a whole will be revealing opportunities to connect a multitude of landmark buildings, museums, and diverse neighborhoods,” said Paul vanMeter, co-founder of ViaductGreene.
But not everyone agrees.
In a recent Hidden City Daily article the comments against the ViaductGreene project were plentiful with many wanting to see a return to the original use — public transit. Hidden City Daily contributor Stephen Stofka agreed with many of the commenters and expressed several flaws in a well-received rebuttal. Here’s an excerpt:
“Remember our last experience with a sunken park, the just bulldozed Dilworth Plaza? The sunken part of the plaza was avoided, shunned: it became a homeless encampment and outdoor latrine. So shunned was it that even when Occupy Philly was out in full force, none of its encampment ventured into it. And we decided it wasn’t worth it—-we’re getting rid of it as a sunken public space, turning it instead into a waiting area.”
Despite the opposition vanMeter isn’t losing focus.
Upcoming plans for the project include moving forward with the launch of an International Ideas Competition, and eventually, ViaductGreene hopes to become the stewards for the three-mile site.
“For now, we’re preserving the right to develop the most creative results possible while acknowledging that not knowing the outcome at the outset is not only okay, it’s also better,” said vanMeter.
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