Growing our undersized tree canopy remains one of the most powerful tools we have to combat the environmental challenges we face. The newly-formed CCRA Green Committee took on this challenge when it welcomed the local Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Tree Tender group to CCRA.
Volunteer Tree Tenders planted 12 free street trees this fall and have gathered applications for 19 more for the spring planting. Our pruning club is also busy pruning young trees to ensure their survival. The goal is to increase our neighborhood canopy from 12 percent, as it currently stands, to a healthy 30 percent.
In addition to tree planting, CCRA Green is participating in the Philadelphia Water Department’s storm drain marking program to reduce pollution in our waterways. Markers remind us that trash thrown in storm drains washes into the Delaware River, the source of our drinking water.
And be on the lookout for CCRA Green’s arrival on the CCRA website. This new tab will house information about environmental challenges, additional solutions and ways to get involved. We all can contribute to a greener, healthier neighborhood and city.
The Communications Committee has been very busy this past year keeping our members and other residents notified of our efforts to accomplish our mission, issues of interest to Center City West, as well as citywide issues that affect all residents.
Here are some highlights:
As our neighborhood changes and continues to evolve, so will we. The Communications Committee continues to be the source of information regarding our neighborhood. So, we would like to thank all of you who read, commented, or have shared their stories with us, so we can influence public policy.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Taskforce
CCRA's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) committee was born amid changes brought about in the last 18 months. COVID and the civil rights protests prompted CCRA to examine our role in the larger city.
This PowerPoint Presentation represents the committee's thinking to date and includes three categories of initiatives: Promotional, Educational, and Advocacy.
On December 14, the board supported the committee's work through a resolution of support of the agenda as presented that night.
To put it mildly, the Finance Committee has had a most busy year.
We put in place a new budgeting process and revamped the way we keep our books and records. Our financial reporting has been improved in a number of significant ways.
We have put in place new internal controls, particularly with respect to the approval of expenditures.
Having just received board approval, we are in the process of hiring a new independent accounting firm to review our annual financial statements and assist with accounting and tax reporting matters.
Finally, we have made changes to the ways we manage cash and to our liability coverage. Looking forward, we expect to continue to upgrade the "back office" of CCRA.
Well, it has been another year of exciting and different member opportunities!
Our membership continues to grow a year after we introduced a new membership program complete with new levels and benefits. We have surpassed the 1300-member mark! Remember, the greater the number of members, the greater the influence CCRA has to impact change.
This past year we launched the High-rise building membership. In 14 months, we had seven high-rises join the CCRA family!
Did you get to join us at October’s sold-out Meet & Greet happy hour in the Dwight D Hotel’s garden? How wonderful to be able to gather in-person after an almost 20-month hiatus.
And…. how informative was our virtual town hall health program with Jefferson Docs: “I’m vaccinated; Now What?”
Have you frequented our newly expanded local Merchant Partners program offering members discounts or deals yet? Don't miss out!
We have begun working on a CCRA Brochure too so that we do not remain the best-kept secret in Center City West.
Were you able to volunteer this holiday season in our community as we offered our members the resources to do so?
Lastly, our expanding stewardship program where we say thanks and build relationships with our members, has become a model to other civic organizations.
So much is going on and more to come!
In early 2021 the Streets Committee worked with the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) on a study seeking to improve transit and bicycle movement along 19th and 20th Streets, between Market and Spring Garden Streets.
In January the Committee reviewed and approved a proposal from the South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) to rework the intersection at 23rd and South with a view to calming traffic flow and improving safety.
Early in the year, the Committee received information that City Council President Darrell Clarke was blocking the installation of priority bus lanes on Market and JFK. CCRA had previously endorsed these lanes, and in February sent a letter, in conjunction with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) and Kennedy House, reiterating our strong support for the bus lanes. Later in the year the bus lanes were installed, and they are functioning well.
In April, CCRA sent a letter to the City strongly supporting the proposed two-way bicycle lane on the south side of Market Street, between 20th and 23rd Streets. In December, having been advised that the bike lane was shifting from the south side to the north side of the street, CCRA sent another letter expressing its support for the revised plan.
On April 18, CCRA received a request for assistance from Shawn Murray, owner of the Twenty-Two Gallery located at 236 South 22nd Street, who was concerned that the planned construction of new ADA curb cuts and ramps at this intersection might cause his building to fall down. The Streets Committee reached out to a City official requesting assistance, and on April 23 a delegation of seven individuals, including representatives from the Streets Department and several contractors, met with Murray and his neighbor Bill Faust at the site, and developed ideas for alternative plans to mitigate the building owners' concerns. In due course, the ADA ramps were installed, and no buildings fell down.
Since the formation of CCRA's Trashforce initiative in the middle of the year, the streets committee has been working hard to support development and implementation of solutions to the problem. Rick Pasquier has been particularly helpful with his dispatches from various European cities, describing their different approaches to the trash issue. Harvey Ostroff has provided important insights from his experiences trying to tame the trash on Walnut Street west of Rittenhouse Square.
Since the spring, the Committee has been looking into the issue of bicyclists riding on the sidewalk. CCRA is working with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) and the Center City District (CCD) to develop strategies, which at present focus on education.
In September, the Philadelphia Parking Authority announced that it was creating a dedicated unit of bicycle-mounted enforcement officers, who would be ticketing cars illegally parked in bike lanes and bus lanes. CCRA ran a survey in its weekly email newsletter, asking residents if they would be willing to see more loading zones added to the parking lane on blocks of Pine and Spruce where the crosstown bike lanes run. The response was overwhelmingly positive. In October, CCRA wrote to the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) asking the City to work with us on installing loading zones in this area. OTIS responded affirmatively, and planning is expected to begin in January 2022.