Northeast as a template: South American reps look to Pennypack on the Delaware

BY John Loftus; Assistant Editor
NewsGleaner Publications

Argentine public officials and investors who want to develop land around the Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires for recreation and other uses came to Northeast Philadelphia last week to look over the Pennypack on the Delaware Park. Their stop in the Northeast was one of several in the city.Mario Ferdkin, a government assessor, said there is an interest in developing land near water treatment plants outside the Argentine capital. He said the group, which included two mayors and other elected officials as well as investors, visited Staten Island and Long Island, N.Y., to see how former waste-disposal sites had been reclaimed for other uses. The Rio de la Plata is an estuary of the Parana and Uruguay rivers between Argentina and Uruguay The group of 30 Argentines visited several sites in Philadelphia on Friday to learned about the city’s efforts to use former industrial properties for recreation, said Sarah M. Thorp, executive director of the Delaware River City Corporation. The group was diverse, she said, consisting of investors, government officials, architects and planners.

Thorp said a representative for an Argentine investor group had learned about the DRCC on the Internet, contacted her about three weeks ago and made inquiries about DRCC, which has been working on developing a system of parks and trails along the Delaware’s banks in the northern part of the city.

Pennypack on the Delaware is a good example. It’s a breezy stretch of green along the river and behind the prisons. It’s been city property for a long time, Thorp said, but it essentially was vacant land that was being used as a dump. DRCC cleaned up the dump, put the debris nearby in a capped landfill and also created some wet-lands, she said.

What DRCC has been doing is similar to what the Argentines are considering for Buenos Aires.
“The city’s development was similar to ours,” Thorp said. There had been many industries located along the Rio de la Plata, she said, just as there had been along the Delaware, she said. “As industry leaves, the land becomes vacant, and the city needs to develop new plans,” Thorp said.
Thorp said the group was investigating how to use parkland and recreational space to stimulate their local economy. “When you build places on the river, you draw people who want to live there and you draw investors,” she said. “They have landfills just like we have landfills. We have to figure out how to deal with these places that don’t look so pretty.”

Some of the people who were using the park Friday afternoon when the bus carrying the Argentines pulled up said they liked the park’s quiet and that apparently not a lot of people know about it. Certainly, Pennypack on the Delaware isn’t easy to find. The entrance, marked by a small sign, is off State Road below Rhawn.

Thorp said nobody should be worried. “I don’t think that park is going to get crowded. She wants people to know it’s there. “Our mission is to restore the connections between the neighborhoods and the riverfront,” she said.

Disclaimer for the above NewsGleaner article:
DRCC would like to clarify that the reporter misunderstood the statement by Sarah Thorp, our Executive Director, in that their organization did not develop Pennypack on the Delaware. The construction of this park was completed at the direction of Councilwoman Joan Krajewski several years before the formation of the DRCC nonprofit organization.

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