Along with other leaders in a new neighborhood partnership, President Judith Rodin invites the University community to the inauguration of the University City District (UDC) on Wednesday, June 18, 1-2 p.m., at the Esther M. Klein Art Gallery in the University City Science Center, 3600 Market Street. The hosts promise music, beverages, food and fun. Below, from the office of Executive Vice President John Fry, is a rundown on the designation of University City as a Special Services District.
At left: UCD's symbol is a circle of gold with green at the core and blue lettering.
What is a "special services district"?
A special services district (SSD) is an effort by local property owners and other stake holders to develop and carry out a program of cleaning, security and other services that are spe cially tailored to their area and its needs and opportunities. It does not replace City services. An effective SSD works with the City and serves as an advocate for improved City services. SSDs improve areas in terms of attractiveness, livability and development.
Why create a Special Services District in University City?
University City is a place of great strengths and opportunities. At the same time, it is an area, like many urban neighborhoods, that is subject to the increasing stresses of urban life of the 1990s. It is also a unique area in its intermingling of residential areas and large institutional uses and this intermingling comes along with many advantages and problems, too. Given these two facts and the track record of special service district concepts in managing change and develop ment in complex locations, the time is appropriate for a serious and sustained effort to collaborate across the institutional, residential and commercial sectors of University City to develop new ways of addressing problems and realizing opportunities.
Whose proposal is it?
The University City District (UCD) has been proposed by a consortium of large institu tions along with the West Philadelphia Partnership. The institutions include the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, the VA Medical Center, West Philadelphia Partnership, Amtrak, the University City Science Center, the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the United States Post Office, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, Children's Seashore House, and others. They have worked together for several months to research, design and pro pose a set of services that would help make University City a cleaner, safer, and more "user -friendly" environment for University City's workers, visitors and residents.
An organized consortium of institutions, working together on these common issues, is a first for University City and a promising start to a sustained partnership that will develop over time to include business and community interests.
What is the difference from the last time this was tried in University City?
An SSD was planned and carried out in University City a few years ago. It was success ful initially, but did not have sustained support. This time, a methodical effort was made to gain buy-in from the large institutions so that there is a financially stable base on which to build a broader partnership.
What services are being proposed?
Sidewalk and Public Environment Cleaning Service. This service will sweep and clean heavily trafficked sidewalks, remove graffiti and stickers and attack problem spots (vacant lots, trash accumulation areas, etc.)
Security Program. This service will be a private, "professional town watch" and public concierge that will extend the efforts of University City's many uniformed security services and residential town watches, particularly in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.
Development Program. This program will provide for improved signage, street amenities (banners, trees, pedestrian lights, planters).
Finally, the UCD will provide Professional Management of these services as well as a coordinated approach for dealing effectively with the City on service provision and code en forcement.
What area of University City will be served?
UCD proposes to cover a wide area, encompassing institutional areas and residential ar eas. A guiding principle in proposing an area for service was to choose those areas where the in terrelationships between institutions and residential and commercial areas were most dense and inter-related. The proposed area includes from 30th Street on the east to 43rd Street on the west, and extending further west along the main, heavily-used corridors of Woodland, Baltimore, Spruce, Walnut, Chestnut and Market from 43rd to 48th streets. The northern and and southern boundaries of the District are Spring Garden Street and Woodland Avenue.
How will these service be paid for?
UCD's service program is estimated to cost over $4.3 million annually. The institutions have already voluntarily committed to fund over 70 percent of this for a five-year period. Over time, it is hoped that the business sector of University City and the residential sector will see value in the services and help sustain and improve them as well. The institutions believe the best way to gain support for this, however, is to prove the value of the services by beginning in Au gust on the basis of institutional support.
Will assessments be levied in University City to finance services?
Some SSD's, like Center City's, are made up of private property owners who support a property-based assessment to raise the necessary funds. In University City, because of the extent of property held by institutions, a voluntary route of funding was taken. Any long-term funding plan will involve institutions, businesses and residents working together in an open and public manner to develop and approve it.
How will UCD be operatedP
A non-profit entity--the University City District--is being formed to provide professional service management.
When will it start?
Services will start in August.
Will the UCD offer business opportunity to West Philadelphians?
The UCD is committed to offering business and employment opportunities to residents of West Philadelphia through its selection of contractors and employment of individuals.
How can I get involved?
UCD is a proposal to improve the quality of life in University City and the start of a new era in cooperation among institutions, businesses and residents. You can contract me at 898-1007 for more information.
-- Greg Montanaro, Office of the EVP
Leaving The Woodlands: The Historical Society and the Spruce Hill Garden Club, both evicted from the historic mansion in Woodland Cemetery at 40th and Woodland Avenue, have issued two calls for help:
Volume 43 Number 36
June 17, 1997
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