Present at a ceremonial check presentation were (Back row, from left) Denis Murphy of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, former CHCA president Will Detweiler, Runyan & associates architect Jean McCoubrey, Chestnut Hill Business District associate director Kate O’Neill, former CH BID president Seth Shapiro, (front row, from left) Sen. Art Haywood’s chief of staff Dwight Lewis; Senator Art Haywood, CHBD director Martha Sharkey and Councilwoman Cindy Bass. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

The Chestnut Hill Business District has received $500,000 from the state to improve pedestrian lighting and safety along Chestnut Hill’s commercial corridor.

State Senator Art Haywood presented a check from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development’s Multi Modal Transportation grant program to Martha Sharkey, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District, at a ceremony at the Chestnut Hill Hotel on Feb. 3.

One of the key ways citizens can participate within their communities is to ‘buy local,’ which keeps money in the neighborhood and creates jobs,” Haywood said. “These funds will help ensure that the Chestnut Hill business corridor not only remains a key destination in the city of Philadelphia, but can expand on its popularity with the added safety of new lighting. I am honored to be able to present the check that will make this happen.”

Sharkey said pedestrian lighting and safety, which are 50 percent lower than recommended levels, are “a critical but often overlooked aspect of public safety.”

In 2015, we completed the Chestnut Hill Streetscape plan in partnership with local stakeholders including the business association, Business Improvement District, the Parking Foundation, the Chestnut Hill Community Association, the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, the Green Space Initiative, the Garden District Fund and the Conservancy and Historical Society,” she said.

She noted that from that plan they were able to identify two projects – update and improve pedestrian lighting and pedestrian safety with new crosswalks and traffic calming techniques. She added that the estimated cost of upgrading and improving the pedestrian light fixtures along the commercial corridor, which includes Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike was estimated at $4.5 million.

Seth Shapiro, former president of the Business Improvement District and executive vice president at The Goldenberg Group, said one of the things that was “particularly gratifying” about this project [The Streetscape Plan] was the community involvement in the process. He said a series of meetings were held to “identify from an infrastructural process what initiatives we should focus on.”

It allowed us to speak with a clear voice around what our priorities were … so we could go to the state and city with some design work and a rough estimate of the cost,” he said. “It makes the job of the elected and non-elected officials so much easier. This is what happens when everyone works together.”

In addition to the $500,000 grant from the state, 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass announced that the city has committed $1.5 million from its Neighborhood Commercial Corridors Capital Program “to install upgraded pedestrian lighting along Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike within the business district.”

As Chestnut Hill prepares to launch the official celebration season of the 20th anniversary designation for Philadelphia’s Garden District, the opportunity has arrived to truly illuminate an urban village with a renewed commitment to the excellence in urban planning and green assets that the original founders designed Chestnut Hill to embody,” she added.

Sue Ann Rybak can reached at 215-248-8804 or sueann@chestnuthilllocal.com

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