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Temple officials to go through new legal process for proposed boathouse project

1/16/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Officials from Temple University are reportedly working on plans to build a 23,000 square-foot boathouse on a parcel of parkland on the eastern bank of the Schuylkill. The project is unique for several reasons, but especially because it will reportedly make use of a new legal process for reviewing the use of park and recreational land in Philadelphia. Because of the change in city law, members of the public will play a more prominent role in the review process.

The new review process was codified by a city parkland protection ordinance passed by City Council and signed into law by Mayor Nutter in 2011. The change in the law was due to concerns that public parkland could be sold or released for private development without proper oversight and public review.

The concern over development of public parkland reportedly arose when the Fairmount Park Commission was replaced by the Parks and Recreation Commission because of the 2008 voter-approved merger of Fairmount Park and the city Department of Recreation. Without the Fairmount board in place, there were concerns that development of Philadelphia’s parkland could mar its green, open spaces and impair the city’s ability to cultivate them.

In accord with the new guidelines required by the ordinance, Temple officials have submitted an “alternative analysis” to the commission explaining why they believe developing the parcel would be in the public interest. A public meeting is scheduled this Wednesday, which will give university representatives and the public to examine the issue.

After the review and public comments are given, the commission will be submitting a recommendation on the proposed land transfer in early March. The Council and other city officials are required to give substantial weight to the commission’s opinion in the matter.

The new process, hopefully, will ensure that any development of public parkland is in accord with public sentiment.

Source:, “Boathouse plan tests park law,” Nancy Goldenberg, January 16, 2012