The Philadelphia Art Commission Wednesday heard about and approved plans for dramatic streetscaping that will help reinvigorate North Broad Street.
The commission also checked off on details concerning an "extremely green" venture by the Philadelphia Municipal Authority (read Philadelphia Water Department) to develop and operate a cogeneration system using digester gas (read methane) as the primary fuel at the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant at 3899 Richmond Street.
The Avenue of the Arts, Inc. concept includes 55-foot tall light masts on North Broad Street that will anchor streetscape plantings designed to increase cover, context and a green screen thanks to the planting of 285 trees. The improvements represent the kickoff for a $50 million instill more street life on North Broad.
The commissioners felt the light masts (there was an installation of the full-scale lightmast mock-up on Temple’s campus in September) are more dramatic and less "telephone pole like" at night vs. day but unanimously approved the plan.
Now, on the methane and co-gen.
The electrical power and the thermal hot water generated by the facility will be used in its entirety by the Northeast WPC Plant. Under the terms of a facility lease the city will own both the electrical output and thermal output of the plant, will have two incoming fuel sources: digester gas, which is generated at the Northeast WPC Plant, and natural gas purchased from or through the Philadelphia Gas Works. The natural gas supply will be used to optimize generator performance and is supplemental only.
According to the legislation in city council, Ameresco, Inc., a leading independent provider of comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for similar facilities throughout North America, will construct the facility. The total plant cost will be approximately $47 million and the facility is currently expected to be completed on or around January 2013. The lease will have a 16-year term under which the City would have both an early buyout option and the right to purchase the plant at the end of the term.
Commisioners approved the plan with the proviso that the "one percent for public art" statute, making the commissioning of new works of public art integral to the urban renewal process, be considered by the city as it proceeds with the project.