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From The President

Have you ever participated in a ribbon tying ceremony? That's correct, a ribbon tying ceremony. I've attended my share of ribbon cutting events where a host of dignitaries wielding a giant scissors (which usually don't work very well) unveil a new building or celebrate the grand opening of something or other with a snip of the scissors. I never really gave a lot of thought to this but if a ribbon cutting signifies the opening of something, what would a ribbon tying be about?

The Greater Pottstown region, like any other, has its challenges. Much of the industrial base of the local economy has disappeared and a significant segment of the population has moved from the town center to outlying suburban communities. Fortunately the region also has significant assets including elected and civic leaders with vision and a can-do attitude.
The Borough of Pottstown and North Coventry Township are linked by the Hanover Street Bridge. It spans the Schuylkill River just steps away from the Pottstown business district, Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River Heritage Trail. The view of the river from the bridge is lovely but the bridge itself is a utilitarian affair, obviously built primarily to move traffic swiftly through the township and borough.  ...More

In This Issue
From Our President
PA Budget Deal Impacts Smart Growth Programs
PA Works! Plans Pittsburgh Luncheon
Philadelphia Water Rates Promote Runoff Reduction
FixItPhilly Informs About Zoning Reform
Good Reading
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PA Budget Deal Impacts Smart Growth Programs

PA state capitolNow that the 2009 budget is a done deal, it is time to assess the painful compromise reached by our government. The final budget has something for everyone to dislike, and the outlook for smart growth is a mixed bag. While some program budgets were severely cut, others dodged a bullet, at least for now. As we reflect on the outcome of the budget negotiations, let's consider the impact that these changes will have on communities across Pennsylvania.

Those of us who cherish our state parks and forests are breathing a sigh of relief as the budget only calls for $60 million in revenue to be generated from the lease of gas wells, less than originally proposed. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will be able to direct the placement of these wells in an orderly fashion, and we hope this will avert indiscriminate drilling that could damage our water resources. In addition, the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, a source of revenue for DCNR since in 1955, was not raided to fill the state budget hole as was originally proposed.

On the negative side, many agencies that perform vital work for Pennsylvania's communities received drastic budget cuts. The Department of Environmental Protection budget was cut by 27% at a time when monitoring of resource extraction is becoming more important.

Particularly disheartening are the cuts made to the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The Land Use Planning and Technical Assistance Program, which helps communities to develop better land use plans, was slashed from $4,173,000 to $375,000. With an average plan costing from $30,000 to $45,000, this source of assistance is now extremely limited. Furthermore, DCED's Shared Services Fund was cut from $2,369,000 to $500,000, making it more difficult for communities to enter service sharing agreements.

In the end, our legislators and the Governor relied on short-term funding sources to find enough revenue to make this budget work. With the Rainy Day Fund now depleted and additional federal stimulus funds unlikely, most state government prognosticators are predicting that the 2010-2011 budget will be even more difficult to resolve. At 10,000 Friends, we will continue to speak strongly for smart growth principles as this debate rolls into the next budget cycle.
Pennsylvania Works! Plans Luncheon in Pittsburgh

PA Works! Campaign LogoAt 10,000 Friends, we are excited about the momentum developing around the Pennsylvania Works! campaign.  As a founding member of this diverse coalition, we believe that the goals of the coalition to put people to work, and to build for a resilient and robust economy for all Pennsylvanians essential parts of the 10,000 Friends mission to make Pennsylvania's cities and towns great places to live and work.

Now the coalition is reaching out to other interested groups around the state to further strengthen our voice for Pennsylvania. If these issues are important to your organization, we encourage you to learn more about this effort and how you can get involved.

Campaign partners will be hosting an informational luncheon about the Pennsylvania Works! campaign on Oct. 20, 2009 from 11:45-1PM in the O'Neill Room on the 23rd Floor of the Regional Enterprise Tower (425 Sixth Ave, Suite 2770, Pittsburgh, PA  15219). Lunch will be provided and there is no charge to attend.  Please RSVP at my.pennfuture.org/PAWorksLuncheon by Oct. 18, 2009.  Space is limited.  You can learn more about the campaign at the campaign website.  

The Pennsylvania Works! campaign is built on the common interest of our citizens to improve our economic opportunities and enhance the things we value.  By shaping state policies that affect communities across the Commonwealth, we build lasting prosperity through efficient and innovative use of public resources, and create significant and accountable return on taxpayer investments.

Comprised of a broad coalition of state and regional smart growth, community development, environmental, and housing organizations, the Pennsylvania Works! campaign is actively  promoting policies, regulations and programs that promote strong families, sustainable places, and economic prosperity for all Pennsylvanians.
Philadelphia Water Rates Promote Runoff Reduction

Schuylkill River and Expressway by Kyle Cassidy CC BY 2.5 Philadelphia Water Commissioner Bernard Brunwasser has decided to adopt a new rate structure and regulations for the Philadelphia Water Department. The new rate structure will provide incentives and favorable rates to businesses and institutions that reduce their water runoff, saving the city money and reducing pressure on the city's aging water infrastructure.

Stormwater runoff is a major problem for the city, often resulting in sewage backups, flooding, and damage to the city's drinking water and rivers. The stormwater management problem impacts more than one out of four Philadelphia businesses and households, according to a poll conducted in early 2006 by Terry Madonna. Fixing the sewage problem is one of the 10 common-sense and cost-effective actions endorsed by the Next Great City coalition, of which 10,000 Friends is a member.

"Managing stormwater is vital to our economy, our environment and the public health," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "And this decision moves us one giant step forward in meeting the federal clean water standards and implementing our Greenworks Philadelphia goal:  to make our city the greenest in the nation."

The Commissioner's decision calls for a new water rate structure that will be based on the size of a property and on the amount of hard or impervious surface on a property, which both relate to how much stormwater runoff a property generates. The previous rate structure was based on how much water the property used, which bears little relation to its contribution to stormwater runoff. The decision also approves a credit program that will allow non-residential customers to reduce their charges by putting practices in place to manage the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff onsite. Finally, the decision commits the Water Department to working with Next Great City on a pilot program to study expanding the credit program to residential customers with incentives to reward Philadelphians who take action to help the city address its stormwater problem.

The entire agenda of the Next Great City project and a list of the coalition members can be found at www.nextgreatcity.com.
FixItPhilly Informs Citizens About Zoning Reform

The 2004 report If We Fix It, They Will Come successfully outlined the steps needed to turn the tide of population loss in the city of Philadelphia. Since then, the "When We Fix It" Coalition, a group of organizations including 10,000 Friends, has been hard at work to to reform Philadelphia's outdated zoning code and cumbersome development approval process. The work of the Zoning Code Commission to update city zoning laws and streamline development review is well underway, but getting a smart new code enacted is a big challenge.

To help keep the people of Philadelphia informed about these reforms, the coalition has launched the FixItPhilly website. The purpose of the website is to watchdog the zoning reform and development review process in the city. The new website is designed to be the go-to place for critical updates, opinions, and research. It is the place to go to follow any legislation that impacts building and construction as it progresses through city council.

Stay informed and get involved at www.FixItPhilly.org.
Good Reading

Cover of Getting On TrackA new report from Transportation For Pennsylvania member PennEnvironment makes the link between transit policy and energy independence using some excellent Pennsylvania-specific numbers.  Getting On Track: Record Transit Ridership Increases Energy Independence follows Pennsylvania's increasing use of public transportation and recommends state and federal policy solutions to maximize public transportation's potential.

Also, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a report that should be in every smart growth advocate's toolbox. Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes shares simple and effective changes that local officials can make to their zoning codes to enhance their communities.  Complete with detailed references and examples, this document is perfect for any community ready to take the next step.
More Smart Growth News From 10,000 Friends

RSS logoAs part of out ongoing effort to bring you the most relevant smart growth news from around Pennsylvania and beyond, 10,000 Friends now offers the "News" section of our web site available as an RSS feed. By adding this feed to a service such as Google Reader, you can receive current news highlights from 10,000 Friends as we add them to our website.  We believe this tool will help you to stay informed of the many important issues facing Pennsylvania's communities every day.

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10,000 Friends has also joined the growing network of Twitter where we are connecting with Pennsylvania's political leaders, partner nonprofit organizations, and activists interested in our issues. If you are also a Twitter user, you can follow us @10000friends. Look for more ways to stay in touch in the future!
Stay Connected
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10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania works as an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to promoting land use policies and actions that will enable Pennsylvania to strengthen its diverse urban, suburban and rural communities. Through a diverse coalition focused on a positive agenda, we seek proactive solutions and options for local, regional and state leaders.

We update our site regularly with articles, opportunities and links, so please bookmark the home page of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania and stop by often.
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