The Friends of Bainbridge Green presented three options on Tuesday for remaking the strip of green between 3rd and 5th streets into a more usable public space. If the project comes to fruition, the resulting changes would add anywhere from 13,000 to 22,000 square feet of green space.
Neighbors who came to the meeting at Zakti Fitness on Fabric Row on Tuesday mostly agreed that the current space has great potential but some were stressed the need to preserve the availability of parking and free flow of traffic to ensure the health of businesses in the neighborhood.
Plan A would result in 13,000 square feet of green space, by narrowing the north side of Bainbridge to be one drivable lane (as it is elsewhere in the city). The plan calls for an expanded Plaza at the intersection of 5th & Passyunk by eliminating the roundabout and making Passyunk Avenue one way (southbound) between Bainbridge and South.
In this scenario, a new (hard) right turn at 5th & Bainbridge would allow vehicles to proceed eastbound, and 5th Street would be the only northbound route. The roundabout at 4th would be “flexible” and able to be closed for special events to maximize pedestrian space. The angled parking on the south side of Bainbridge would remain.
Plan B includes all structural changes proposed in A and calls for the roundabout at 4th to be eliminated permanently. This plan would result in 17,000 square feet of green space.
Plan C calls for all the structural changes of A and B, but also changes the angled parking on the south side of Bainbridge to parallel parking, widening the medial strip to 42 feet and allowing for the maximum amount of green space, 22,000 square feet. Getting rid of the angled parking would result in 20 fewer space, but 10 would be added back if Passyunk above Bainbridge went to one way with parking on both sides of the street.
One attendee, Frank Tavani, a Queen Village resident and traffic engineer, noted that further, careful study is needed to fully vet the proposed plans. Tavani explained that of particular interest is the right turn proposed at 5th & Bainbridge and how it impacts pedestrians and traffic flow south of Bainbridge.
Some neighbors living immediately adjacent to the park raised opposition because they said they have not been approached in a meaningful way by the Friends group. While they share a desire for more aesthetically pleasing and functional public space, they perceive the lack of communication as a signal that the project is being designed by and will cater to outsiders.
The period of public comment is expected to continue in the coming weeks. Those interested in the project may comment by way of survey and email list subscription available on the Friends website.
Also in the coming weeks, the project will be taken up by the South Street Headhouse District (SSHD) as a Capital Improvement. Funds raised to date for the project were cared for by the Queen Village Neighbors Association under their 501c3 status. These funds will be transferred to SSHD who, in its capacity as a Municipal Services District is well-versed in negotiating with stakeholders and city agencies and in raising the kind of funds a project of this scale will require.
Other SSHD initiatives include replanting trees and maintenance of tree pits along South Street, streetscape improvements on Fourth Street that includes new overhead LED street lamps, and plans to remake Headhouse Plaza.
It will likely be several years before the work of the Friends translates into a new Bainbridge Green.
Find the FOBG here on Facebook. Donations in support of the project may be made through the Queen Village Neighbors Association c/o The Friends of Bainbridge Green.
– Lauren Leonard, editor of greenLimbs.com, and new president of Queen Village Neighbors Association