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EPA Administrator Lauds Innovative Program in Philadelphia

Release Date: 8/2/2005
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

Contact: Bonnie Smith 215-814-5543
PHILADELPHIA – EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today cited a Philadelphia initiative as a national model for reclaiming and managing vacant urban lots.

In a city tour of formerly abandoned sites, Administrator Johnson saw how sites have been converted from rubble to green spaces lush with grass and shade trees. Although the spaces are often small, by reclaiming many sites in the same area of North Philadelphia, the abandoned lots have been converted into green corridors.

"This community-driven partnership has turned urban blight into urban pride," said Administrator Johnson. "The environmental and economic results achieved here in Philadelphia are a model for communities across the country and will be showcased by the White House at the Conference on Cooperative Conservation in St. Louis this month."

The tour was hosted by J. Blaine Bonham, Jr., executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). Guests included representatives from the city’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative and the Philadelphia Water Department.

The vacant land program is run by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Philadelphia Green program and is a part of the Horticultural Society’s “Green City Strategy.”

One of the key advantages of investments in greening and in vacant land management is the increase in property values by as much as 30 percent. This fact was reported in "The Determinants of Neighborhood Transformation in Philadelphia - Identification and Analysis,” a study undertaken by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania's Real Estate Department with support from the William Penn Foundation to look at revitalization strategies and their impact on neighborhoods.

The program started as a greening program to renew small spaces in neighborhoods, one step-at-a-time. Now PHS has added a storm water management component, turning spaces that were neighborhood eyesores into places that now beautify the neighborhood, also providing shade and environmental benefits. To learn more about this program, see .

The Philadelphia Vacant Land Management & Reclamation program will be featured at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation at the end of August. The PHS program was one of a select few chosen from several applications. The conference will bring together leaders in environmental conservation policy, and is only the fourth time in America's history that the White House has held a such a conference. To learn more about this conference, see: .