March 10: Defending CDBG | Delaware River Turnpike Bridge reopens | Graffiti Pier park?

Elected officials across the U.S. have joined as a unified front to defend the Community Development Block Grants program, which the Trump administration proposes eliminating from its HUD Fiscal Year 2018 budget. In a joint statement, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, and National League of Cities called for urgent action from Congress, calling CDBG funds “the heart, lungs and backbone of cities and counties, small, medium and large.”

Archaeologists and forensic specialists have until Saturday to salvage what could be up to 300 historic gravesites from an active construction site in Old City. In November, excavation to make way for a development by PMC Properties struck upon remains from the former First Baptist Church Cemetery, founded in the early 1700s, but PMC says it can only halt work for so long to stay on schedule. While the graves are in the Old City Historic District, the Historical Commission has no jurisdiction over "undeveloped" sites. No other state or local agency feels it is within its jurisdiction. 

The Delaware River Turnpike Bridge is back in commission, well before the anticipated early April reopening, NewsWorks reports. The bridge has been closed since January, when officials discovered a fractured beam caused by a decades-old plug weld.

What’s the realistic future of America’s land use patterns? Strong Town’s Johnny Sanphillippo believes that the built environment that we’ve inherited will not change much, and the change to come will be inequitably distributed. While small infill projects can be beautiful, culturally considerate, and harken to a traditional Main Street memory, they are too expensive and complex to be the financially feasible norm, highlighting the reality that some developments “become politically and culturally disposable.” Sanphillippo takes it further, arguing that large-scale infill projects are profitable to build, help bypass the administrative and financial limitations of bureaucracy, and continue a culture of land use that most Americans want.

Hidden City proposes preserving social media sensation Graffiti Pier by formally designated it as a public park. Advocates foresee the privately owned space’s demolition for redevelopment in the very near future and believe that the existing and breathing “graffiti art, magnificent views of the Delaware waterfront, and accessible, well-trodden paths” make for an ideal public amenity.

About the author

Diana Lu, Community Engagement Editor

Diana runs PlanPhilly’s community outreach and engagement online and in real life. She has spent more than ten years in the non-profit and public sectors working on urban development issues including environmental justice, design-based manufacturing, and community and economic development.  Prior to joining PlanPhilly, Diana worked as the Director of Partnerships and Outreach for 10,000 Small Businesses, a public-private initiative focused strengthening local businesses through revenue generation and local job creation.  Follow Diana on instagram @dianaluwho and email her at

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