Seeking clout in unity, the newly formed Coalition for Philadelphia's Riverfronts is an alliance of more than three dozen civic, neighborhood, governmental, faith-based, and business groups dedicated to revitalizing the city's waterfront areas through the creation of a comprehensive rivers' edge greenway.
"Riverfront groups generally have advocated for a local portion or a section" of the rivers, said coalition coordinator Rachel Vassar. What distinguishes the coalition, she said, is that it brings together diverse constituencies, from South Philadelphia's Passyunk Square Civic Association to Port Richmond's Friends of Pulaski Park. From the Jewish service organization Moishe House to the Philadelphia Anglers' Club.
The idea, she said, is to speak with "one voice for a citywide policy," grounded in the belief that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
At a 5 p.m. gathering today at Schuylkill Banks Plaza next to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, representatives of the coalition plan to call on City Council and the City Planning Commission to adopt ordinances and regulations requiring that land along the Schuylkill and the Delaware River be reserved for a green swath that will contain trails for hiking, jogging, rowing, kayaking, bicycle commuting, and other recreational uses.
Besides contributing to the public's health by providing space for vigorous physical exercise, a unified greenway will improve water quality because "a good vegetated buffer can help filter pollutants," the organizers say.
The coalition, funded by a William Penn Foundation grant of about $25,000, envisions turning abandoned factory areas into parkland and connecting communities that otherwise have stood apart.
"When the coalition succeeds in its mission," the group said in a prepared statement, citizens in Bridesburg, Tacony, Holmesburg, and Fishtown, "who never thought of themselves as part of one whole" will work together.