The proposed renovations seek to address some real problems with the current space. Right now, it's a paved wasteland with pedestrian barriers, blocked views, and multiple elevations that break up the space into many unattractive, unmaintained areas. The plan is to transform it into an open greenspace with a lawn area, water features, and improved access to the underground hub where the Broad Street Line, the Market-Frankford El, and the subway-surface trolleys intersect (67-page PDF). The suggested glass-enclosed stairways will bring to mind transit entrances in such cities as London, Tokyo, and Paris, and the concourse below will see sunlight for the first time since it was created and capped, making it more inviting and probably increasing its perceived safety. The proposed changes will make the space a workers' lunch oasis in the very noisy traffic junction around City Hall, and a more likely weekend destination for residents and tourists. For crying out loud, they want to put in rain gardens!
But Occupy Philly characterizes the plan thus:
The renovation, in its most general significance, is a privatization of public space, an enclosure of the commons in favor of a falsely sterilized, for-profit, private park of amusements for the privileged.Really? Because what I see in the proposal is a re-imagining of the Plaza that benefits transit users, serves city residents and workers, and brings in tourists who spend money and support jobs in places around Philly that aren't only the historic district around Independence Hall. Also, "in its most general significance" (whatever that means), the plan keeps the Plaza open to the public; it doesn't make it private at all.
Why does Occupy Philly characterize the plan so inaccurately? And why take the stupid ad hominem pot-shot at the people who will use the Plaza when it's turned into more of a welcoming, green public park?
Occupy Philly could have found the proposal and read it easily -- the document I found is dated 2009 but I figure it's close to the final proposal, and it turned up when I simply googled "dilworth plaza proposal." And if they were really supporting the non-1% of Philadelphians who walk in and around the Plaza every day as they go to work or school, or do business in City Hall, or use the concourse to access SEPTA, Occupy Philly would cooperate and move across the street to the space at the Municipal Services Building.
But they aren't, and that's a big reason why I think that they are infiltrated, and that they've been infiltrated for weeks. And I'll quit thinking that as soon as they quit calling me the 1% for being a person who's really looking forward to having Dilworth Plaza brought into the 21st century.
Or back to the 17th, as the space where City Hall sits right now was one of the city's 5 original public squares:
Let every house be placed, if the person pleases, in the middle of its plat, as to the breadthway of it, so that there may be ground on each side for gardens or orchards, or fields, that it may be a greene country towne, which will never be burnt & always wholesome.William Penn's Instructions to his Commissioners, William Crispin, John Bezar, & Nathaniel Allen, 1681