On October 8, 2013, 24 years of neighborhood pressure came to fruition as real estate developers DeSouza-Brown signed over six acres of land in east Mt. Airy to the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department (PP&R). This neighborhood pressure has evolved into a non-profit organization, the Wissahickon East Project(WEP), which, in 2006, negotiated a land easement for this parcel. This easement is held by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. It prohibits any future development of this land.
This land is now part of the Fairmont Park system, which will make it the first public park in Upper East Mt. Airy. “We are elated, there are tears in our eyes,” said Dr. Arlene Bennett, long-term community activist and treasurer of WEP.
In 1996 neighbors organized the first opposition to a proposed housing development on Cresheim Creek, which would have seen the building of 32 new homes that would have covered the creek. Now, under the leadership of PP&R, and with support from Friends of the Wissahickon, WEP will help create a small, low-impact, walk-to Neighborhood Park that supports the delicate environment of the Cresheim Creek valley.
Maura McCarthy, Executive Director of Friends of the Wissahickon, explained that Cresheim Creek is an important contributor to Philadelphia’s drinking water and that there are major challenges to the creek environment, and to the stabilization of the creek bed.
About Wissahickon East Project
Wissahickon East Project (WEP) is a volunteer group of community members whose current goal is to help PP&R clean the land and develop a low impact community park.
A clean-up day is planned for December 7th. More on this to follow.