City Council restores cash for parks and rec, shelters

Posted: November 30, 2012

Philadelphia City Council approved a bill Thursday that would restore more than $37 million in funding for parks and recreation centers, domestic violence shelters, and other programs.

The money comes from the city's fund balance, which was $49 million larger than anticipated at the end of the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The bill would distribute the money across agencies, including $2.6 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation and $3 million for the Office of Supportive Housing for 100 additional domestic-abuse shelter beds.

Some of the funding was in the original budget last spring but was removed amid concerns about the city's finances, said Council President Darrell L. Clarke.

He said his Council colleagues "fought passionately for these causes during the toughest budget debate I've ever witnessed."

"As we realized additional revenues . . . we thought it was appropriate to readjust that budget and put those much-needed projects back in the budget," he said.

The Nutter administration put forward bills last month to appropriate millions from the fund balance, the bulk going toward the Department of Human Services, the Law Department, and the Office of Property Assessment.

The administration and Clarke's office worked out amendments to one bill that provided funding for causes championed by various Council members.

The bill also provides $500,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, $600,000 for the mayor's anti-blight program, and $200,000 for the Mural Arts Program.

On a busy day, Council also passed:

A bill to create affordable housing in Point Breeze, which for years has been grappling with the thornier side of gentrification. Significant opposition to the plan arose, mostly because it involves taking 17 private properties in a fast-developing area. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents the area, noted that he worked with developers and others to whittle the 80 privately owned parcels in the original plan down to 17 largely blighted and tax-delinquent properties.

A bill that establishes development buffers on rivers and streams and enshrines them in the newly reformed zoning code. The buffers had been hotly debated by builders and environmentalists.

A bill that would change a portion of the new code to require some developers to provide on-site parking. Clarke said the bill would address the concerns of residents around Temple University, where dense student housing has made street parking scarce. Clarke said many Council members objected to applying the rule citywide, so his amendment would make the provision apply just to the area around Temple.


Contact Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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