By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The city of Philadelphia unveils a proposal this evening to increase the urban vibrancy of the iconic Ben Franklin Parkway. They’re calling the action plan ‘More Park, Less Way.’
Deputy Mayor for environmental and community resources Michael DiBerardinis says recent improvements have been remarkable, including $20 million in streetscape improvements, the new Barnes Foundation, the renovated Rodin Museum, Sister Cities Park and the restored Logan Square.
“This has been the most transformative period of that urban park since its inception 100-years ago,” DiBerardinis says.
Executive Director Harris Steinberg of PennPraxis, which is part of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “Mike’s contention was that the parkway has never looked better, and now the question was, ‘what do we want it to be?'”
Steinberg says they need to complete traffic calming measures along the Parkway, since it handles 30,000 vehicles a day.
“The car has dominated the past 50-years. We are trying to say with this report, ‘let’s redress that balance – make it more park, and less way.'”
Steinberg asks, wouldn’t it be nice to remove the parking lot from Eakins Oval, and make it a people-friendly destination?
“You have 7 acres, which is larger than Rittenhouse Square, that could become a very significant civic space.”
The action plan also reimagines sites across from the Philadelphian, Park Towne Place and Von Colln Field.
DiBerardinis says by 2015, they want to connect more dots to make the Parkway a destination in and of itself, rather than a place to pass through.
“This final stage is really about animating that space, and providing reasons to come and stay, other than the big events.”