Mantua Greenway Project is Officially Underway

Initiated by local residents and supported by community leaders and organizations, the Mantua Greenway Project is an effort to transform an overgrown and littered strip of land on Mantua Avenue, into a green space.

 

Lifetime Mantua resident Bessie Washington, who lives across the street from the once vacant lot, started a small garden there in 2011 in memory of her mother. Over the years, the first few flowers and plants have blossomed into a large neighborhood revitalization campaign to create a green space and build a walking and biking trail. Over the years the project has received significant foundation and state funding, including from community staple, Philadelphia LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).

Washington saw the potential for a beautiful garden space and began rallying residents around a strategy to revive an overgrown path that runs the length of Mantua Avenue. In 2013, the William Penn Foundation provided $200,000 for concept design and early stage planning, and this past October the neighborhood was awarded $150,000 by the state for design engineering, and partial construction of the greenway. The path will eventually connect to the city's Schuylkill Trail system, and will boast trees, murals and art installations.

In 2014, the group forged a core of volunteers, which Bessie Washington now heads, who meet monthly and solicit input from residents about how to develop the trail and make it a reality. Residents also organized a series of clean-up days along Mantua Avenue to deal with the unwieldy overgrowth and garbage littering the sidewalk and street. The project inspired the city of Philadelphia to send over a Community Life Improvement Programs—or CLIP—crew to tackle the trail's most intensive landscaping needs.

As work on the Mantua Greenway unfold, veteran community organizer, Donna Griffin, will coordinate leadership workshops and seminars for the residents like Washington who are committed to revitalizing Mantua. Other residents are developing an employment program to prepare local kids and young adults to take an active role in the construction and ongoing maintenance of the trail.

Is your community doing something to sustain and promote social and economic vitality in PHL? Let us know and we’ll share your stories! Email us at getinvolved@philaculture.org.