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DCNR celebrates schools’ greenways plan, renovated park in Philadelphia
DCNR officials this month joined neighborhood and civic leaders in applauding two major Philadelphia projects that strengthen ties between the city's youth and the natural world expanding around them.

In early morning ceremonies, DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano joined Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials in launching an innovative Green 2015 Site Conversions Project at North Philadelphia's William Dick Elementary School. The effort will see school play areas and recreation centers enhanced with plantings and porous surfaces and connected by a "green city street."

Later in the day, Giordano and other DCNR officials participated in a ribbon-cutting at Sister Cities Park, 18th Street and Logan Square. One of three newly improved parks along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Sister Cities is designed with a Children's Discovery Garden, featuring plants native to the city's Wissahickon Valley.

"One of the major ways to encourage young people to get outdoors and enjoy the natural world around them is to offer parks, greenery and connecting trails close to where they live," Giordano said, speaking at the elementary school at 2498 W. Diamond St. "Having committed $800,000 toward this project, DCNR is excited to participate in launching this "green partnership," which I'm sure will be a model for cities across the country, as they seek to improve access to recreational spaces and healthy outdoor opportunities.

"Today, a wide-reaching vision to link Philadelphia's young people to an outdoors environment is unveiled," Giordano said at the school event. "And this vision hits the triple bottom line: improving environmental quality, neighborhood economic value, and the community's social fabric."

The funds will support extensive green redevelopment of 10 children's play spaces in elementary school yards and public recreation center sites connected by a "green city street" in neighborhoods where residents lack access to natural spaces and recreational amenities.

"I can't emphasize enough the importance of the partnership that led to the launch of this project," Giordano said. "Like many of our projects across Philadelphia, the teaming together of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Water Department, the Trust for Public Land, the Mayor's Sustainability Office, state government and community organizations are what made this project possible."

DCNR also awarded $500,000 to Philadelphia's Sister Cities Park.

"As a resident of Philadelphia, I am delighted and proud to see a series of environmental projects like this come to fruition throughout this great city," said Giordano, speaking at the Sister Cities dedication. "I am honored to offer DCNR's support to guide vision and foresight into reality.

"In addition to greening Logan Circle, Sister Cities Park now enhances the new Philadelphia experience for tourists and visitors to the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute and many other area attractions. An experience ushered in by strong partnerships," Giordano said.

Planned summer activities at Sister Cities Park will focus on environmental programs for children.

Previous DCNR grants have targeted Benjamin Franklin Parkway enhancements that include pedestrian walkways and roadway improvements. Sister Cities Park—so named for Philadelphia's "sister city" relationships with Florence, Italy, Tel Aviv, Israel, Tianjin, China, and other cities—is one of three parks recently renovated as part of a Parkway overhaul. The others are Triangle Park at 16th Street and the parkway, and Shakespeare Park on Logan Circle in front of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

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May 23, 2012

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