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Who is Roxborough? What Do We Want?

Neighbors looking to clearly identify Roxborough's goals.

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 ksykora@manayunk.org.

John C. Manton December 08, 2012 at 06:03 PM
How often we have heard that "Evil Triumphs When Good People Do Nothing." In other words, you get exactly what you ignore. If a community is not the least bit interested in its own historic past or the buildings that came therefrom, they are destined to leave behind them urban blight as their neighbourhood declines into ruin from overdevelopment.
rich December 09, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Did we forget about manayunk?
Andy Thomas December 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Pete, You are correct. The house had almost nothing left that was original. It also cost 1000 per month to heat in the winter. Not the best for the environment I would say. The house is being replaced with 3 that will,combined. almost definately use less energy than that poorly renovated old one. Also creating jobs. each project like this puts approx 12 people to work for months. helping the economy Not all development is bad. Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas December 15, 2012 at 04:00 PM
John, Does urban blight come from development?? or, does urban blight come from leaving delapadated homes sit poorly maintained. I have been in the area for 20 years watching the home values go from 30k to 200k. That is a good thing and it does nothing but make the neighborhood stronger. I have seen many neighborhoods in Philly grow and prosper through quality development. I do agree with you on doing nothing will get you just that, but are developers evil?
Mike O'Neill January 08, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Yes andy, that's what matters. Your property value going up not the quiet simplicity or integrity of the neighborhood. Where is your head? 12 people to work? let them go work elsewhere!!! These great new homes are crap. I watched them start biulding home just before Sandy and the frams and plywood took a pounding. But what did they do? two days after the storm there they were finishing up those houses. Would love to see how much they settle and warp in the next 5-10 years. Yea tearing down stone and concrete and replacing it with Plywood is so much better then a soild foundation. You must be a developer or work for one.

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