Demolition. Development. Old residents. New residents.
Over the course of the last few years, Roxborough has certainly changed but it seems the intensity of outsiders' interest in the neighborhood has grown just in the past few months. And residents look to regain some control.
Coincidental or not, many projects recently made it onto the neighborhood's radar, and it doesn't always like what it sees.
The fight of the Bunting House. The demolition at 368 Lyceum Ave. The proposed demo at 480-2 Lyceum Ave. The Green Lane/Manayunk Avenue homes. More proposed houses on 4000 Manayunk Ave. on a tiny sliver of land.
Long-time resident Kay Sykora and others will host a meeting Sunday on Green Lane for neighbors who seek to be proactive about Roxborough's future and want to define some goals.
"Roxborough has never been under such an intense lens. Manayunk has, but no one here ever thought they would start tearing down houses," Sykora said at the Central Roxborough Civic Association meeting Thursday.
The goal for this meeting is two-fold:
- For Roxborough, defining "who we are and what are our goals?" and
- How to deal with the developers' interest.
"I think it's a better plan to get ahead then just reacting, like with the Bunting House, or Green Lane and Manayunk Avenue," Sykora said.
Getting a head of the process could be key to saving some older Roxborough buildings. In her dealings, Sykora says developer can act reasonably, up to a point.
"Once they are locked into formal action, they're pretty negative about change. They are committed to money then," she said.
Ed Hotham, president of the CRCA, agreed with Sykora about getting ahead of the game and said after a certain point, it's almost hopeless.
"The hard thing is that there's no real way to appeal something by right. And in the process, if they have the permits, they can tear a building down so fast," he said.
In November, the Central Roxborough Civic Association saw a highly attended monthly meeting. Neighbors spoke out against development projects, and interest existed in a cohesive organization.
On Thursday, fewer people attended the group's December meeting, but people's passions remained. Joshua Cohen, special adviser to Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., attended that meeting and also one for the Ridge Park Civic Thursday where similar ideas were discussed.
"It's not just something for Central Roxborough, but for all civic associations," Cohen said.
Potential ideas discussed include making Roxborough a conservation district or securing historic status for older buildings. But what's most important, Cohen and Sykora said, is that leaders step out and devote the time.
If people are interested in attending the Dec. 9 meeting at 4 p.m., email Sykora at firstname.lastname@example.org.