The work on how notices from the PA Bulletin relate to school sites is a subset of the Indexing Late Industrialism project. The PA Bulletin is Pennsylvania’s publication for information and regulations, including state and local court rules, the Governor’s Proclamations and Executive Orders; Actions by the General Assembly, and more. For the Indexing Late Industrialism project we are focused on using the PA Bulletin’s public notices of environmental permit applications, specifically, notices of intent to remediate, air emissions, and new industrial sites within Philadelphia. After reading through select notices from the PA Bulletin primarily focused on soil contamination and air emissions in Philadelphia, from 2015-2018, a trend of school locations mentioned in notices of intent to remediate became evident. I extracted the specific notices relating to school sites from the larger PA Bulletin data set to examine them further.
There were four total school sites mentioned in seven different notices, the Spring Garden School, Roberto Clemente Middle School, Preparatory Charter High School, and a Charter School in North Kensington. The first inquiry I looked into was whether these school sites were concentrated in specific neighborhoods, or if they were dispersed across Philadelphia. As demonstrated in the map, ‘Vacant Schools’ these schools are scattered by location. The next aspect I examined was the toxins mentioned in these PA Bulletin notices. All four sites were listed as having either soil, or both soil and groundwater contamination. Although there was a large range of specific toxins recorded such as pah’s, vanadium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons benzo(a)pyrene and benzo(b)fluoranthene, inorganics, leaded gasoline, arsenic, and naphthalene.
The Spring Garden School and Roberto Clemente Middle School were the two locations that continued to reappear in these notices. These are also the two school sites which have been redeveloped for residential, or commercial and residential use. In March of 2017, a notice of intent to remediate was issues for the Roberto Clemente Middle School located in North Philadelphia, five months later, another notice of intent to remediate was issues here stating that the site is developed with a six-story structure currently undergoing partial demolition and renovation for mixed use (commercial on the first floor and residential on the stories above).
After some further research on the Roberto Clemente Middle School, I found out that this site on N. 5th St was closed in 1998. The site was abandoned for nearly two decades, and all that could be seen indoors was stripped lighting fixtures and concrete walls, with a fence surrounding the property to prevent crime, although this did not stop graffiti. The Clemente Roberto Middle School has since been relocated to W. Erie Ave. Some additional research was related to the notices of intent to remediate for the old Roberto Clemente Middle School location in 2017. I learned that the former Roberto Clemente Middle School plans to reopen as a 38-unit affordable housing development. Esperanza, a non-profit to strengthen Hispanic communities in the Philadelphia area set into motion the 38 affordable rental units and 5,000 square feet of retail at the seven-story school, along with a parking lot and children’s play area.
In August of 2017, a notice of intent to remediate was issued for the Spring Garden School to be redeveloped for residential use. A month later, another notice of intent to remediate was issues again stating that “the site was historically developed for residential and commercial usages and was redeveloped as a high school” and in December, 2017, the report was approved. Additional research informed me that the Spring Garden School that had been located at N. 12th Street had been vacant since the 1970s and on Veteran’s Day in 2017 the former Spring Garden School opened as a home for 37 veterans and individuals 55 and older. Twelve of the housing units are dedicated to veterans, and the additional units are for those earning 60% below the area’s median income. The Spring Garden School has since been relocated to Melon St. for K-8th grade.
Roberto Clemente Middle School 2016 Roberto Clemente Middle School Development
Images from: https://philly.curbed.com/2017/10/16/16481386/philly-affordable-housing-esperanza-groundbreaking-roberto-clemente
Spring Garden School 2012 Spring Garden School 2017
Images from: https://philly.curbed.com/2017/11/10/16633332/spring-garden-school-lural-blevins-veterans-center-opening
In addition to the aforementioned middle and high schools in Philadelphia, in 2018 University of the Sciences, Drexel University, and Girard College also appeared in the PA Bulletin. University of the Sciences was included in the PA Bulletin with a notice of intent to remediate March 16, March 30, and May 4, 2018 due to a fuel oil underground storage tank (UST) was located beneath the paved area to the north of the former site structure. Limited impacted soil was removed during the UST closure. On March 30, 2018 Drexel University was listed in the PA Bulletin due to the facility’s air emission sources which included sixty-three (63) natural gas fired combustion units each less than or equal to 5.23 MMbtu/hr, two (2) natural gas or No. 2 fuel oil fired combustion units rated at 3 MMbtu/hr, one (1) natural gas fired emergency generator rated at 100 kW, nineteen (19) diesel fired emergency generators rated at 1,250 kW or less, and two (2) diesel fired fire pumps rated at 105 hp or less. Finally, on March 16, 2018 the Girard College Power Plant was included in the PA Bulletin due to the facility’s air emission sources which included three (3) 744 HP boilers that can burn No 2 fuel oil or natural gas and one (1) 300 HP boiler that can burn No. 2 fuel oil or natural gas.