Philadelphia has been talking about covering I-95 and reconnecting to the Delaware River waterfront for years, and this time it looks as though it might happen ("Green connection to city's riverfront," Wednesday). The city should rejoice - 11 acres of parks and access makes this project a winner. Yet, very few may win big.
Surrounding this project are acres of privately held land, much of it vacant. It's been a fact of life since Frederick Law Olmsted created his vision of New York City's Central Park in the mid-1800s. Surrounding land increased in value stratospherically ($200 million in 1870s money), far in excess of the cost of creating the park ($13 million).
Taxpayers may pay the tab, but who will reap the benefit? Too often, the owners of dirt and crumbling buildings benefit from massive community investment without lifting a finger. For too long, Philadelphia has let landowners benefit while the productive people and businesses of the city pay for that largess.
The answer? Land-value capture. The increase in land values triggered by the Delaware River project belongs to the taxpayers. A lot of wealth will be created; care must be taken to ensure that it is common wealth. Land-value increases can pay to build and maintain this project and provide a surplus to city and state coffers. For once, give taxpayers a break.
|Joshua Vincent, chief executive officer, Center for the Study of Economics, Central Business District Office, Philadelphia, email@example.com
Architecture columnist Inga Saffron raises some valid concerns in her column about Historic Philadelphia's plans to close off Franklin Square in the evenings in May for a weeks-long festival to raise needed revenue to maintain the park ("Festival barrier is more open, still restrictive," Wednesday). But I think she goes too far in generalizing that "there is always a trade-off" when private organizations take over management of public spaces.
Think of the transformed Sister Cities Park in Logan Square, redeveloped and managed by the Center City District. What's the trade-off in that case? Or beautiful Logan Circle, home of the Swann Fountain, relandscaped and maintained by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society? Or the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.'s delightful Race Street pier? Or the Schuylkill River Development Corp.'s hugely popular Schuylkill River Trail? I could go on.
Even if the city could afford to improve and maintain these spaces on its own - and it can't - I'd argue that the partnerships with creative and committed nonprofits produce greater public benefit than the city could get on its own. No trade-off there.
|Donald Kimelman, Philadelphia
I am a resident of Villanova and applaud the university for its amazing plan and attention to detail on the new parking garage, walking bridge, and future buildings ("Radnor OKs Villanova plans for crosses," Tuesday). Neighbors who oppose the crosses that will be mounted on the bridge's pillars should be reminded that the university has been here since 1842 and has always been a religious institution. Villanova does everything it can to appease those who have moved here since then. We have use of its gym, pool, track, theater, classes, lectures, arboretum, and much more. The students' involvement with Special Olympics and community service projects make us proud. Their unselfish, hard-working basketball players present our youth with everyday role models.
These crosses, on university property, are a reminder for us to love God and to love thy neighbor as thyself. Who can find malice in that?
|Kristin Strid, Villanova, firstname.lastname@example.org
A letter writer urged Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, asserting that it is not affordable and has affected him negatively ("Meehan should vote against ACA," Monday). I also am one of Meehan's constituents, and repealing the law would be detrimental to me.
Prior to the passage of the ACA, I was denied coverage by most health insurers because of a very minor preexisting condition and was forced into a high-risk pool with high premiums and high deductibles. Now, my premiums are significantly lower, out-of-pockets costs are limited, and I face no annual or lifetime caps. I never lost my plan or doctor.
Hillary Clinton won Meehan's district. Meehan should reflect the will of his constituents and do what is best for the American people by voting to retain the ACA.
|Bill Fanshel, Bryn Mawr, email@example.com
I'm not usually a letter writer, but the commentary, "Philly's underfunded schools, undervalued teachers" (Monday) infuriated me. Are you kidding me that public school teachers are going into debt and having their houses foreclosed? These teachers make twice as much as a Catholic school teacher with 30 years of experience and a master's degree. Their pensions are far better than any pension in the working world.
As for taking a second or third job, welcome to the reality of living now. I have worked a second job for more than 30 years. No one has gotten raises over the past several years. Most of us are just grateful for a job and benefits.