As a densely-developed municipality, Media has relatively little green space to serve the needs of its 5,350 residents. How much green space is enough? Some larger cities, like Vancouver, plan with the aim of ensuring that every person lives within a 5 minute walk to nature. Some planners compare the “livability” of cities by the square footage of green space per person, with Buenos Aires coming in at a tiny 2.3 square yards per person and Vienna, Austria at a whopping 144 square yards. Media Borough, located in the Philadelphia suburbs, but classified as “urban,” comes in at a modest 39 square yards per person.
However you measure it, green space is good for us. It is associated with physical and mental health benefits – including reductions in illness and deaths, stress and obesity – and a range of positive social, environmental and equity outcomes. Our 2015 Media Borough Comprehensive Plan calls for the development of open green public space through pocket parks and landscaped plazas throughout the borough. Green space also provides opportunities for heavy rains to be absorbed and filtered through the soil instead of running off the pavement and drawing pollutants into our water supply. With much of the borough paved over, our antiquated storm sewer system is sometimes overwhelmed by heavy storms: we have significant stormwater runoff issues.
To address the need for green space and stormwater runoff mitigation, the Borough has turned its eye toward opportunities to convert paved-over areas into small parks and green spaces. These sites will meet the needs of our residents for recreation, outdoor leisure activities and contact with nature. They will also address the borough’s stormwater run-off issues, incorporating infiltrative green infrastructure design such as bioretention basins and tree trenches. Veterans Square Garden is the first of these green places to be developed.