LAST MONTH saw the release of the first annual Greenworks Philadelphia progress report, and we celebrated the city's move toward a greener, more sustainable future in my neighborhood at 9th and Norris.
Mayor Nutter visited to report on the city's sustainability plan and tour many of the sustainability efforts led by Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha and the residents of eastern North Philadelphia. In just one year of the Greenworks program, neighborhoods across the city are starting to enjoy more green space and energy-efficient buildings and healthier citizens.
This gathering, in part, celebrated the improved quality of life in APM's targeted neighborhood around 9th and Norris thanks to partnerships with the water department, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Greenworks Philadelphia. Schoolchildren, residents and activists from across the city came to see some of the many improvements we've made to our neighborhood.
We have embraced long-term sustainability planning not for its own sake, but because of the results it delivers, immediately and for generations to come. This is about a battle for better quality of life and a better city that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren.
Using these sustainable programs and concepts, APM has stabilized 20 acres with partnerships from private industry, government agencies and nonprofits that resulted in an investment of $70 million into the neighborhood. Property values have increased 270 percent since we started developing the area seven years ago, crime is down by 17 percent since implementing more green concepts, and families are starting to have their own vegetable gardens as the old and young work to learn from each other. By planting trees and bringing fresh, affordable food within reach, we promote clean air and good health, reducing the rates of asthma and Type 2 diabetes. These initiatives have started to change behavior, and we see more people in our recycling program, which reduces waste for the city. These are all building blocks that construct a better future for ourselves and all of Philadelphia.
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD is an example of how we can innovate to save money and become greener. At 9th and Norris, there's a parcel of land designated for storm water runoff. The grassy parcel acts as a sponge, soaking up storm water, which assures cleaner water for fishing, swimming and drinking, and helps the city save money on storm water management.
APM's latest "crown jewel" is at 9th and Berks. The Temple Regional Rail Station is undergoing a transit-oriented development, encouraging use of public transit, reducing the use of cars and air pollution while saving the cost of owning a car. It incorporates the water department's storm water management system, which lessens the burden on our old sewers, and decreasing the use of clean water. The Planning Commission hopes to use this as a model.
Our neighborhood is doing everything we can to make a healthy difference, in partnership with the Nutter administration. Join us, and let's make Philadelphia the great green city we know it can be.
Nilda Ruiz is president and CEO of APM.