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A $740,000 revamp is coming for Germantown's Chelten-Greene Plaza

Germantown's Vernon Park

In December 2014, work was underway to redesign a busy but troubled piece of Germantown's Chelten Avenue corridor (near Flying Kite’s former On the Ground home), but there weren’t yet funds in place to implement the changes. Now, thanks to major dollars from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), construction could begin next year.

DVRPC is awarding a total pool of $7.6 million to 11 "Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) projects" throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, including five Philadelphia initiatives. These include $370,000 for the Chelten-Greene Plaza Reconstruction to, in the words of DVRPC, "improve and connect a busy bus stop to Vernon Park."

“The TAP funding allows us to finalize construction documents and actually go forward with construction,” says Philadelphia City Planning Commission Northwest Philadelphia Planner Matt Wysong. There are also matching dollars from the Commerce Department in the mix, bringing the project's total budget to $740,000.

The northwest corner of Chelten Avenue and Greene Street usually hosts a crowd of SEPTA riders waiting for the many bus lines that pass through the intersection. It’s also adjacent to the southeast corner of Vernon Park, but a wrought-iron fence separates the sidewalk from the green space; a low brick wall in the middle of the un-landscaped space is also part of the original flawed design. A drop in the pavement grade between the wall and an adjacent building attracts trash and illegal activities.

Because of the building next door, that drop is an engineering problem the redesign can’t completely solve, but once the brick wall is gone, it will be possible to smooth that section of pavement so the drop is less obvious and to add landscaping features.

"We want to redesign it in a way that maximizes the space, utilizes it to its fullest, [and] allows for some sort of programming to happen there," explains Wysong. That could mean a food truck or some other type of vendor. "Right now, Vernon Park has a very unceremonious entrance along Greene Street." When the existing iron fence is removed, the plaza will be "a promenade to connect to Vernon Park."

There’s no official construction timeline yet. This month, city partners including the Streets Department and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities will meet to iron out the details. Wysong estimates that work could begin in early 2017 and be finished within six months.

He touts the renovation as "very much a community-driven design. I’m pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm I’m seeing now that funding was announced. The space [is] small, but it’s got a lot of meaning to a lot of people."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Matt Wysong, City Planning Commission
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