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After a "hard-fought battle," South Philly goes even greener

Standing by the rose bushes of Columbus Square Garden yesterday, a band of neighbors unveiled a city first: stormwater planters. The coffin-like boxes now line the sidewalk along 13th Street between Wharton and Reed in South Philly to turn rainwater into something more useful.

The neighborhood's evolution to go green morphed into a hard fought battle, said Ilene Wilder, president of the Columbus Square Park Advisory Council, whose list of things to do includes turning the garden into "the park of the future." Such efforts pitted tree-hugging transplants like Wilder (she moved to the area from Chicago six years ago) against some long-time residents. (See this City Paper article)

But yesterday victory was in the air.

City officials were on hand for the unveiling. So were students from the Christopher Columbus Charter School's Green Club, who helped plant some of the flowers, and who will maintain the planters.

"It really symbolizes the change of South Philadelphia, and that we are emerging into a new community," said Wilder, standing at 13th and Reed in a flower-print dress, her brown hair thick from the humidity. "We came together around a passion for green, and we realize what can happen when we work together."

Along the stretch, there were supposed to be six planters, Wilder noted. Four was the compromise.