Council president wants commission to coordinate local development

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke wants the city to form a commission to coordinate neighborhood redevelopment efforts between private and public entities.

City Council President Darrell Clarke wants the city to form a commission to coordinate neighborhood redevelopment efforts between private and public entities.

He said the Philadelphia Community Reinvestment Commission would be tasked with crafting an overarching strategy for revitalization initiatives, something he said the city is lacking.

"This will give us an opportunity to pull all of the necessary parties together, get people in a room, talk about laying out a strategy for investment - real, substantive investment - in neighborhoods," Clarke said.

Clarke introduced legislation to create the commission Thursday. If approved by Council and Mayor Kenney, it would then have to be approved by voters, which could happen at the earliest in the May 2017 primary.

The 21-member commission would be made up of mayoral and City Council appointees, including representatives from private foundations, education and medical institutions, anti-poverty organizations and city-wide business associations. City staff including the director of finance, director of commerce, and director of planning and development would also be members.

Clarke said the task force would work to facilitate new public/private partnerships. As examples that have worked elsewhere, Clarke's office pointed to a partnership in Cleveland between worker-owned businesses and the city's hospitals and higher education institutions and the installment of a new rail line in Detroit funded through a 24-part public-private financing arrangement.

"This ad-hoc approach to investing in neighborhoods frankly speaking does not afford us an opportunity to take advantage of things that have been done in other municipalities," Clarke said.

Also on Thursday, Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. called for hearings on how to expand cell phone service throughout Fairmount Park, saying substantial dead zones are a threat to the safety of visitors.

tnadolny@phillynews.com

215-854-2730

@TriciaNadolny

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