ULI Philadelphia Panel of Experts Issue Recommendations for Open Space at Friends Southwestern Burial Ground in Upper Darby, PA
How do you reconcile the interests of soccer-loving neighborhood children looking for more fields, a Greek Orthodox Church seeking more parking, and a community seeking to preserve its historic burial grounds in Upper Darby? ULI Philadelphia tackles this issue in a recently conducted Technical Assistance Program (TAP) that sheds light on how open space at The Friends Southwestern Burial Ground (Friends SWBG) in Upper Darby could best maximize community and economic benefits.
Located in densely-populated Upper Darby Township across from the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Friends SWBG has been operating at a deficit and occasionally leased an “unoccupied” corner to the Church for parking, while also serving as a passive recreational site for this diverse community. Upper Darby Township and the Friends Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (CPMM), manager of Friends SWBG, commissioned the ULI Philadelphia Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to explore land use possibilities that would satisfy the community need for recreational space while providing sustainable financing to maintain the burial grounds.
The 18-member TAP panel worked with the Township, several Friends’ groups, representatives of community organizations and St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church to look into the issue and offer solutions that would address the key stakeholders’ concerns and goals.
“With so little open space available in Upper Darby, it is critical for key stakeholder groups to work together and explore solutions that can benefit the entire community,” said David M. Ricci, Chairman of ULI Philadelphia. “This project is a terrific example of how public and private organizations and individuals can collaborate to create positive land use solutions that are both socially and economically responsible.”
Under the leadership of ULI members Richard W. Huffman, FAIA, retired partner at the national planning firm of Wallace Roberts & Todd; and Dr. Peter Angelides, an economist with Econsult Corporation, ULI Philadelphia found that conflicting expectations for using the land as a regulation soccer field or a parking lot were not realistic given space constraints and economic considerations. The Panel recommended it would be best to preserve the integrity of Friends SWBG and use it as a shared community space with all stakeholders planning to work together for future solutions.
The Panel further outlined that the Friends SWBG’s future is rooted in the development and implementation of a business and marketing plan and offered resources to help increase revenue by expanding and promoting its burial offerings, encouraging daytime passive recreational use of the site, and expanding the community garden area, as well as other potential revenue-generating concepts including occasionally leasing a small portion of the land for parking on special Church occasions.
To view the entire report and learn more about how a Technical Assistance Panel could help solve a land use problem in your community, visit http://ph.ly/ULITAP.
About The Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a non-profit education and research institute whose mission is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land. Established in 1936, ULI today has more than 23,000 members around the globe, representing the entire spectrum of land use and development disciplines, including developers, builders, property owners, investors, architects, public officials, planners, brokers, appraisers, attorneys, engineers, financiers, academics, students and librarians.
ULI Philadelphia encompasses nearly 800 members throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, the southern half of New Jersey and the State of Delaware. For more information visit http://philadelphia.uli.org.
About ULI Technical Assistance Programs:
Since 1947, ULI has harnessed the multidisciplinary expertise of its members to help communities solve difficult land use, development, and redevelopment challenges on behalf of government agencies and community-based nonprofits. At the local level, this is accomplished through a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP). ULI Philadelphia serves as the "honest broker," bringing all stakeholders together in an environment free of politics and preconceptions, to provide direction for challenging land use problems. For more information about Technical Assistance, please visit http://ph.ly/ULITAP.
For more information about ULI Philadelphia, please contact Susan Baltake at firstname.lastname@example.org