The Waterfront: Five People Making a Difference

People from across the city are constantly working towards making the Schuylkill and Delaware waterfronts better for Philadelphia. From revitalizing the rivers themselves to improving the green spaces around them, here are five people making a difference on the Philadelphia waterfronts.

Justin DiBerardinis

Justin DiBerardinis (above), who works in community outreach at Bartram’s Garden, is looking to open the Schuylkill River up to the Southwest Philly community, who still see it as an industrial and polluted space as opposed to a source for recreation. To further this, DiBerardinis and Bartram’s are organizing the Community River Festival on June 22nd, which will include the annual boat parade that takes place at Bartram’s public dock.

Bartram’s also recently finished a big wetland restoration project which will offer new opportunities for education on water ecology. DiBeraradinis hopes Bartram’s can give a whole different universe of people access to the Schuylkill.

KarenKaren Thompson

Karen Thompson is the Planner and Project Manager for the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. The corporation, created by the Nutter administration, works to make improvements along the Delaware River waterfront. The corporation is in charge of projects on the 7-mile stretch of the Delaware, from Allegheny Avenue to Oregon Avenue. In the past, they’ve worked to renovate the Race Street Pier.

Currently, the corporation is working on several projects, including renovating Penn’s Landing and creating a bike and pedestrian trail along the Delaware. 

JohnRandolphJohn Randolph

Since moving to his home along the Schuylkill River Park, John Randolph has worked to be a force of change for the park and the river that runs besides it. After an article ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on his efforts, Randolph received several grants he used to start the organization now known as the Schuylkill River Development Corporation.

Today, Randolph is the board chair of Schuylkill River Park Alliance and focuses on activating the river itself through boat tours, water taxis and more recreation activities including canoeing and kayaking. His goal is to introduce people to a river they’ve forgotten.

Bryan HanesBryan Hanes

Bryan Hanes is a landscape architect and urban designer. He and his crew at Studio Bryan Hanes work to design public places and parks through the city. Hanes has designed and rendered upcoming projects along the Delaware, such as the renovations of Penn Treaty Park and Pier 68. He also works with various community organizations to see what residents would like to see done with these community projects, and uses their input as he develops plans.

Mary DonahueMary Donahue

Mary Donahue is the Program Organizer of the Philadelphia branch of Clean Water Action. The organization works to improve the environment by reducing pollution in bodies of water.

The organization is currently pushing for infrastructure repairs on train bridges that carry crude oil tankers over the Schuylkill, where Philadelphia gets a portion of its drinking water. The organization is also pushing for “green infrastructure” in the form of tree trenches, rooftop gardens, and rain barrel programs. These green spaces would help absorb more storm water and reduce the amount of sewage overflow into the rivers from the city’s combined sewer system.

– Photos and text by Nicole Soll and Jesse Bellosi

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