Although they've been on hiatus since June, the Ridge Park Civic Association's first fall meeting Sept. 8 was almost a lackadaisical affair with low attendance and no pressing business.
Civic officers reported that there were no developments regarding two major projects on its radar. At its June 2 meeting developers of the 168-unit Umbria Village apartment complex on a parcel of land behind and beneath the Ivy Ridge Train Station had promised to “take one last look at improving the parking ratio” before meeting with the City Planning Commission but there were no further discussions with the RPCA.
There were similarly no new developments on the possibility of the Greenwoods Charter School purchasing a 1.3 acre parcel on Germany Hill adjacent to Parker Avenue for construction of a new campus since administrators cancelled plans to attend the meeting that morning. Administrators had emphasized at the June 2 meeting that the proposal was in its preliminary stages. No further information has been made available since that time.
RPCA Greenspace Coordinator Marlene Schleifer expressed doubts that Greenwoods would be able to do everything it wanted on the parcel, including increase the size of the student body to as many as 1,000 students. Schleifer was unable to confirm reports that a purchase price with owner Parker Avenue LP had been agreed upon.
According to Schleifer, a proposed land swap between Parker Avenue LP and the City of Philadelphia in which Parker Avenue would receive land that was more amenable to development has not progressed, phone calls from representatives from the RCPA were not returned by Councilman Jones. The elementary school’s lease of its present campus at 8480 Hagys Mill Rd. expires in August of 2012.
Fifth District Lieutenant Victor Ramirez provided the membership with a brief report on local police activity. With three recent bank robberies and a perceived spike in street crime Ramirez could only allude to “more aggressive patrols” by uniformed officers and members of the plainclothes and burglary units and the distribution of flyers urging residents to protect their vehicles from break-ins. Ramirez reported that the robbery of the TD Bank on the 4000 block of City Ave. in the city’s 19th District on Sept. 7 was apparently committed by the perpetrator of the Roxborough robberies.
Ramirez said thefts from automobiles continue to be the largest single problem in the district. This “in –and-out” crime is made easier for perpetrators by unlocked vehicles and valuables left in plain sight. GPS devices are a favorite target. Brennan asked Ramirez to provide the civic with hard data on crime trends and proactive police measures for its December 1 meeting.
Schliefer announced that the Tree Tenders were scheduled to plant 77 new trees in the area in November, including 20 in the vicinity of Dobson Elementary School. The group, Schliefer said, could always use more volunteers as well as five-gallon buckets that are used as slow-drip watering receptacles.
Recent beautification projects on Germany Hill, the Ivy Ridge Trail, the Umbria Street steps, and the corner of Hermitage and Pechin Streets were all due to the efforts of Ivy Ridge Green.
It was reported that the construction of a new car wash and a laundromat on Ridge Ave. were proceeding, albeit slowly. According to Brennan a sign approved by the civic for the car wash encroaches on the sidewalk and requires a city ordinance that not yet been proposed by Councilman Jones.
It was also reported that the produce store operating at 7100 Ridge Avenue has appealed the ZBA decision in the civic’s favor ordering the removal fencing and signage. Brennan said ZBA action was necessary because the proprietor had reneged on an agreement to remove them.
State Representative Pam DeLissio (D-194) spoke to the membership about events in the state capitol including:
- The as-of-yet unforeseen impact that the recently-passed budget will have on human services and education and the possibility of a lawsuit to reinstate subsidies
- The potential negative economic consequences to state coffers of privatizing the state’s liquor stores. According to DeLissio “the business model is not there to privatize the liquor stores” and a proposed increase in the price of a liquor license to over $1 million was prohibitive to business development
- Her dismay at the legislature’s repeated killing of legislation which would ban cell phone use and text messaging while driving. DeLissio said that this “needs to be done the minute we get back” to Harrisburg on Sept. 26.
- A bill sponsored by House Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson/Indiana/Armstrong) to reduce the size of the state legislature. This measure, DeLissio said, would have to pass both houses in two consecutive legislative sessions and then go to a voter referendum. She believes that such a reduction would underserve rural constituents and that term limits and campaign finance reform were more effective vehicles for more efficient government
- The wrangling over the mechanics of the Commonwealth deriving revenue from development of the Marcellus Shale Formation. DeLissio said that Gov. Tom Corbett “refuses to look at the revenue side of the equation” and that it was “unrealistic” to think that energy companies would leave Pennsylvania because they were taxed. She proposed that some tax revenues be placed in an escrow account to be put to use in addressing unforeseen environmental impacts.
The next RPCA meeting will be held at the Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.