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New Police HQ opens; School superintendent selected; Philly Spring Cleanup | Sunday roundup

Old City gets a grocery store 🥭

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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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RECAP: Looking back on the week that was

• Philly picks next school superintendent

Tony Watlington — who said his mantra is to wake each day and ask, “How are the children?” — will become Philly’s next school superintendent. Offered a 5-year contract that pays $340k annually, Watlington moves from leading a North Carolina district of about 18,000 students to one with about 120,000. In advance of his official June 16 start date, he plans a listening tour and to shadow outgoing Supt. Hite to learn the ropes. [Chalkbeat/WHYY]

• Police HQ opens in former Inquirer building

The ivory tower at 401 N. Broad St., for decades home to the city’s paper of record, is now officially open as the Philadelphia Public Services Building, housing PPD headquarters and the Medical Examiner’s Office. A tour of the interior shows sparkling hallways, new labs, and a few historical gems. What’ll happen to the old Roundhouse? Bids are in, per a city spox, and whoever wins the property will lead a public engagement process to help direct its fate. [Billy Penn]

• Community cleanup vs. illegal dumping

The annual Philly Spring Cleanup took place yesterday, with residents in every neighborhood volunteering to collect bags and bags of trash. It’s unfortunately a drop in the bucket for the city’s illegal dumping problem, which sees crews pick up tons of debris from a single site — or not, leaving it to contribute to litter and degrade the environment. [Twitter/Billy Penn]

• Old City gets a grocery store

After decades without a real supermarket, Old City is now home to one of Philly’s coolest grocery stores. Riverwards Produce just opened on Bread Street with nearly double the goods of its Fishtown sibling. Here’s a look at what you’ll find inside, including fresh bread, sustainable meat, Philly-made gelato, and 25 kinds of locally roasted coffee. [Billy Penn]

swanfountain-sunlight
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

VISION: Looking forward to the week ahead

• City debates spending priorities

Mayor Kenney has proposed a $5.4 billion budget for Philadelphia’s upcoming fiscal year, the largest in history. It includes nearly $10M more for the library to keep branches open, and an increase for police — which City Council wants to boost even higher. Details will be debated over the coming months, starting this week. Here’s the schedule, in case you want to sign up to testify. [City Controller/Billy Penn/Billy Penn/City Council]

• Plastic bag ban enforcement

Philly’s plastic bag ban is now fully in effect. Retailers that don’t stop giving out blown-film bags are subject to a minimum $150 fine. Some businesses switched to thicker plastic bags, which seemingly fall outside the ban — but a new bill from Councilmember Squilla, a longtime proponent of the effort, would remove that exemption. [Metro/WHYY/Billy Penn]

• Ramadan observations begin

Islam’s holy month of Ramadan (April 2 to May 2) is a big deal in Philly, home to around 200,000 Muslims. After two years of pandemic isolation, many Iftar celebrations are in person this year, including a special event catered by South Philly Barbacoa. For those who can’t afford big feasts to break the daily fasts, Philabundance is giving out 6,000 meals. [Inquirer$/Food & Wine/WHYY]

• Cheers to cherry blossom szn

There was some worry the recent freeze would affect them, but delicate pink cherry blossoms are starting to pop all over Philadelphia. A pop-up beer garden runs throughout this week, and the annual Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival is a three-day concert series from April 8-10. [WHYY’s PlanPhilly/Billy Penn/Visit Philly]

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