Temple University in Philadelphia has been awarded funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the cleanup and reuse of brownfield properties in the North Kensington area of Philadelphia. Temple will receive a $200,000 grant to develop the project, which consists of a 161-acre area in the North of Lehigh neighborhood of Kensington. The project aims to plan for health, environmental, and economic improvements for the residents through cleanup and reuse of the area.
Temple’s Center of Sustainable Communities will collaborate with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) as well as leaders from the community and city organizations to complete the project. These organizations include the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Conrail, and SEPTA Police Department.
“I’m pleased to announce that Temple is the first university to receive an EPA Brownfields area-wide planning grant,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Helping build healthy and resilient communities is an EPA priority. This funding to Temple underscores the University’s environmental leadership and commitment to improving the health and future of its neighboring communities.”
Temple’s Center will develop a plan that focuses on the brownfield sites adjacent to the Lehigh Viaduct, a freight rail corridor located along Lehigh Avenue, between Kensington Avenue and I-95.
“The project area exemplifies the cumulative detrimental effects of a formerly industrial neighborhood — a distressed community left behind with significant social, public health and environmental justice concerns. There are also striking public health concerns within the community, including lack of healthy food availability and accessibility to open space,” said Dr. Mahbubur Meenar, Assistant Director of GIS Operations and Research for the Center for Sustainable Communities and an adjunct faculty member in Temple’s Department of Community and Regional Planning.
“Temple University strongly believes in university-community partnerships,” said Dr. Jeffrey Featherstone, Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities. “With generous support from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning grant program, we will work with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation on numerous community outreach and visioning exercises, including participatory photo mapping, focus groups and design workshops. We will also arrange a number of community meetings throughout the project period. Community involvement and participation is integral to this project.”