People Are Passionate About Parking
This statement became obvious early on at the January 3rd general meeting of Manayunk Neighborhood Council Expecting a larger than normal turnout, the location of the meeting moved from the Rec Center at Venice Island to the gymnasium of North Light Community Center This was a good call, when 85 people signed in. President Jane Glenn called the meeting to order at 7:45PM and welcomed the audience Sergeant-AtArms Arte Verbrugghe laid out the ground rules for an orderly meeting, some of which he would have to later reemphasize repeatedly Chairman of the Traffic and Parking Committee Gerald Harrison followed with introductions of Richard Dixon, Director off On-Street Parking, Philadelphia Parking Authority. Councilman Michael Nutter, 4th District, the new captain of tire 5th District, Captain Walter Smith and officers Sgt. Leo Manning and Walter Edenborm
Councilman Nutter, making his first speech of the new year, began by saying, he had participated in a number of meetings about parking issues. He explained that the existing policy of the city required a 51% vote in favor from a block by block canvassing. Since Manayunk needs a sizable area to have permit parking in order for it to work and a vote taken block by block would be too cumbersome, the Councilman is willing to introduce new legislation with a different process. He reiterated that permit parking cant be forced, the neighbors must want it and it had to be a "community driven process." He further explained that the benefit of a trial period would be the community could have a "sneak preview" of the process without it being enacted into law.
Councilman Nutter continued by saying the goal of the program would be for neighbors to be able to park near their house, at least on their block, but it would not guarantee they would always have a space in front of their house The trial period would allow time to work out the "bugs'", voice legitimate concerns and work on increasing panting to the business district
The councilman concluded his comments stating that he hoped the community could "iron out" the confusion about permit parking, so that : f and when the bill went before City Council, the community would show a concensus at Council's public hearing.
Rick Dixon, PPA, spoke next, first attempting to reassure the audience that there was no conspiracy to "cram the program down anyones throats" He explained that the Parking Authority issues around 13 000 permits per year, primarily in areas of concentrated shopping, around hospitals and around public transportation stops. Mr. Dixon continued to explain that the proposed two-hour time limit will help to deal with vehicles from outside the community He reiterated Noddy s statement that it "does not guarantee a parking space" It would immediately impact the vehicles in the neighborhood with out-op-state license plates Owners would either have to park outside of the permit area or get Pennsylvania plates, which is actually required by state law '15 days within declaring residency" He added that the City of Philadelphia has the "right to limit how long you can park on city streets"
The audience was champing at the bit with their questions, comments and accusations Donna DeLoach raised the issue of neighbors not having the $35 to purchase a permit and suggested that the parking on Main Street be free to encourage shoppers to park down there.
Jackie Clark explained "We have permit parking on Cresson Street and people will still park if it's only a $15 ticket. The cars have to be towed!"
John Teague spoke up next, saying he supported the residents that are against permit parking, adding that he still has to use cones on his street which has permit parking. At the mere mention of cones, the audience went wild and control of the meeting was momentarily lost for the first time.
A barrage of accusations followed including comments like "Our taxes have gone up! Why should we have to pay?" and "You haven't done the math! Some blocks have a total of 40 houses on both sides with only 26 parking spaces on one!" "The only guarantee we have is that we'll have to pay $35!"
It should also be noted that the audience also had some creative ideas of their own to help alleviate parking congestion. These included allowing parking on sidewalks, changing streets to one way to accomodate parking on both sides, widening the streets so parking spaces could be lined off on an angle and making the Green Lane Bridge a toll bridge.
When President Jane Glenn mentioned the problem of renters, the audience erupted again. Laura Smith, a renter herself outside of the propsed area, calmly explained the problem in her section of the neighborhood, which has the highest percentage of rental properties in the 19127 zip code. This is according to data gathered by the North Light Leadership Team, a community organization that has been focusing on the issue of illegal rental properties for some time. Laura spoke about the extremely high number of cars with out-of-state plates and college decals that park anywhere, including the sidewalks, on a regular basis and the chaos when there is a keg party. She poig-nantly stated that she was born and raised in Manayunk and, as a young professional, will be looking to purchase a home within the next few years. But, if something isn't done, she said, "I won't be buying here."
The audience again denounced the effectiveness of ticketing cars, whether for parking on the sidewalk or any other reason. Convinced that towing is the only viable solution, Rick Dixon had to remind the crowd that there are obstacles to overcome. First, there would need to be a facility to tow the cars to. Add to that the need for additional city tow trucks and the safety issues of towing on the hills, and the idea becomes daunting. He asked if there were any questions, noting the audience had "lots of feelings!"
Before leaving, Councilman Nutter stated "Important ideas came out of this process. If this proposal is voted down, we are not satisfied with the current situation." He asked that the audience "get these ideas into us, so we can try to continue to fix this problem".
The discussion of the possibility of permit parking will be
continued at the February 7th meeting of MNC, hopefully in a more
Points to Ponder
Two groups of people are seriously impacting parking in Manayunk.
1 Renters to housing that holds three to five unrelated young adults. Multiply their 3 to 5 cars by two or more for friends who come to visit and party. This adds possibly 6, 10, or even more cars for some households. No wonder there is no parking Since many of the license tags are from out of state, you will find that most of the cars are not registered to Manayunk and are not eligible for a permit.
2. Customers and employees of Main Street are mostly young people who don't mind walking. This group will no longer be able to park in the community without being ticketed.
If the neighborhood draws a hard line with these groups, there will be no reason for them to come to the community. Illegal rentals are a huge part of the problem. If they can't park their cars here, they will not rent here. If these cars are removed from neighborhood streets by the use of permits, there will be more parking available to residents. Manayunk Neighborhood Council is not against all renters. Renters are part of a healthy community. However renters, of the type described above. impact tlhe quality of life of everyone around them.
The goal is to return parking to the residents There has to be a first step to change what is happening and you have the power to make that decision. Residents that buy a permit can have unlimited parking. Cars without a permit sticker will be ticketed after the limit. A one or two hour limit has yet to be decided upon A two-hour limit gives more time for your visitors but may, give enough time for Main Street customers. No limit may be too restrictive. This is a discussion for the meeting and a decision to be made by the community.
The biggest drawback to permit parking is what to do with your guests's cars. The Parking Authority will make exceptions for special circumstances and ease restrictions if notified of events and, private parties: There may still be inconveniences when you have visitors. You need to decide if permit parking will improve your situation and vote accordingly.
Continuous enforcement by the Parking Authority will also address other quality of life and safety issues such as parking on the sidewalks and in front of fire hydrants.
We are not forcing this plan on the community. We are presenting this as a way to improve the parking situation, It will not solve the problem. Parking is a complex problem and permit parking has pros and cons, so we are suggesting a trial program. Our only request is. that the plan be reviewed and considered by everyone.
At the February meeting representatives from the Parking. Authority will answer questions.
VOTE- There will be two types of ballots. One ballot for each residential address in the permit parking district, permits can be purchased for all cars registered to the address. These ballots will decide if permit parking takes effect in the district.
A second ballot will be for anyone attending the meeting to gain insight into the community's feelings toward the plan:
BRING PROOF OF RESIDENCY
Please try to get to tire February 7th meeting a few minutes early to go through the process of obtaining a ballot Come out, listen to the presentation, voice your opinion in a respectful manner, and vote.
MNC Garden Club
"Let's Make a Deal"
Manayunk Garden Club hosted a meeting of Friends of Pretzel Park at North Light Community Center on January 18. The Friends of Pretzel Park is a coalition of the Canal Day Committee, Manayunk Development Corporation, and Manayunk Neighborhood Council's Manayunk Garden Club. The meeting of over 20 people was lead by Jane Glenn.
Details of the dog run in Pretzel Park began the meeting. Sharon Dendy, landscape architect with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, presented her plans for the park. The plan includes flowering shrubs and trees throughout the park, an enhanced entrance at Rector Street, and a tot lot with a butterfly garden.
Sharon explained a minor change to the dog run. The inner comer above Cresson Street will be cut at a diagonal because of the slope of the ground from the sidewalk to the wall along Cotton Street. The fence will run from the base of the Cotton and Silverwood Street entrance for 145 feet. It will then angle away from the sidewalk and turn with a ten-foot perpendicular meeting with the wall.
The next step for the dog run will be a professional survey of the area so the fence can be ordered. The wrought iron fence requires precise details of the slope. Our advocates from the Horticultural Society spent a good deal of time surveying the site only to find that their numbers were not accurate enough. They will use their own funds to hire a professional.
Before the fence is installed, volunteers will be required to dig a trench for the 145 feet along the side walk. This can be done once the weather warms the ground. The trench is necessary for installation of the fence and so mulch can be set under it. Heavy machinery cannot do the job because it may damage the newly installed pavement.
Eric Gartenberg reported on his visit to other dog runs. He said mud was a problem at Schuylkill Park in Center City. Their dog run is flat with mulch over the ground. Eric voiced his concern that our dog run may have more problems because of the slopes. He also mentioned he felt our dog run was an adequate size after visiting a dog run 1 n New York City.
Sharon and Jane said gravel and railroad ties might be used to improve the drainage and prevent erosion. In addition to the professional surveyor, grading of the site must be done. Sam LePera, of the Department of Recreation and an advocate for our park improvements, may be able to assist with funding the contractor. If not we may be able to tap into a state grant obtained by Kay Smith, Manayunk Development Corporation. Once the site is graded, drainage and erosion prevention plans will be designed.
Eric asked if a water fountain would be installed in the dog run. That will not he done at this time but may be accomplished after current projects are completed.
Many projects are currently underway in the park, the dog run, the garden house, and new sidewalks. The Friends of Pretzel Park received another grant this year of $6,900 to fence in the play area. Details for this project will be discussed over the next few months.
In addition to our attention to Pretzel Park, a local entrepreneur and a real estate developer have taken an interest in the park. Attending the meeting were Tom Connelly, owner of Connelly Container, and Dennis Maloomain, President of Relean Properties. The two are partners in the development of the Connelly Container site at Cotton Street on Venice Island. Realer has plans to build 270 apartment units at the site. Mr. Connelly and Mr. Maloomain had a landscape architect design plans for the park which they presented at the meeting.
Mr. Connelly noted that their plans and Sharon's were quite similar. While their plans did not include the dog run, they had many flowering trees and shrubs and an enhanced entrance at the Rector Street entrance. Their plans had more flowering plants and an enlarged tot lot with new play equipment. Mr. Maloomain said we could have it all done in eight weeks. The catch is they will begin work the same day they began construction on their Venice Island development. Mr. Maloomain gave the group a sales pitch for their development. He said it would help improve business in the community by adding density to the area and allow residents to purchase milk, dry cleaning, and pizza on Main Street. I guess he has never been to Cresson Street or Riverside Pizza.
Many in attendance were not aware of the reasons this proposal was being offered. Jane Glenn explained that she is President of Manayunk Neighborhood Council. The Council opposed the development and is appealing the ZBA's approval of the project. The appeal is a combined effort of Friends of the Manayunk Canal, the Sierra. Club, and MNC.
Jane, not wanting to involve the park group in the zoning battle, briefly explained Manayunk Neighborhood Council's opposition. The apartments will add almost 500 cars to Manayunk's existing traffic congestion. In addition, the site on Venice Island is in the floodway of the Schuylkill River. The floodway is an area of the floodplain where the water rises the highest and flows the fastest. This presents a great danger to residents and rescuers on the island. Water rescue experts testified that people would die if these apartments were built
The Friends of Pretzel Park and the Manayunk Garden Club are not
part of the appeal against the Venice Island development. Members of
the park group are invited to join MNC nd the Friends of the Manayunk
Canal and voice their opinions to these groups. For details on Venice
Island, check the web sites of MNC, www.manayunkcouncil.org, and Friends of
the Manayunk Canal, www.manayunkcanal.org.
Chemistry: The Beat Goes On?
In September the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspection (L&I) denied the renewal of a dance hall license for the River Deck Holding Corp., 4100 Main Street (Chemistry Bar & Club, Main St. and Shurs Lane). The owner of Chemistry appealed the decision. L&I took the unusual action of denying renewal based on community opposition. A hearing was scheduled to review the appeal on January 16.
MNC opposed renewal of the license because of reports from residents that they are harassed every weekend by patrons from Chemistry as they pour through the neighborhood. On the way they shout, litter, urinate, fight, and otherwise disturb residents and damage their property.
This behavior continues every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night through 2:30 a.m. Patrons of Chemistry prefer to find free parking in the neighborhood rather than pay or use the valet service. They carry the party with them up into the residential hillside. They continue to party on street corners and in backyards. The residents on Shurs Lane and Main Street say "enough".
Manayunk has a history as one of the safest and most stable residential neighborhoods in the city. If Chemistry is allowed to continue as a Dance Hall, this community will disappear. Many good neighbors have already moved out and more are threatening to follow.
Chemistry, through its continuous advertisements on popular radio stations, is creating the image of Manayunk as a late night "Party Town". They are changing this solid working-class neighborhood into a late night hangout for young people. Residents of Manayunk are just sick and tired of this.
Jane Glenn, MNC President, Forest Aegiano, President of Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association, and several residents were ready to testify before the L&I Review Board on the 16th. Just before the hearing was to begin, it was announced the Review Board did not have a quorum present. Only three members of the Review Board were present and four are needed.
The lawyer representing Chemistry and the lawyer, Ms. Kuzma, representing the City, and us, asked for the hearing to be continued. A date of February 13 was selected for the next hearing.
The owner and lawyer for Chemistry asked to meet with the community to discuss the issues. Ms. Kuzma, felt this was appropriate and proper procedure if Chemistry drops their appeal. They can apply for a new license and we can oppose them on that if necessary. The meeting will take place mid February.
If Chemistry has a negative impact on your quality of life, please
report this to Jane Glenn at 482-5528.
"Green Infrastructure: Transforming Our Towns with Trees"
Using slides from all over Europe, Pulitzer Prize winning author Tom Hylton shows how trees can transform the appearance and livability of our cities and towns.
The Morris Arboretum, located at 100 Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill is a wonderful place that plant lovers of all ages will find fascinating, educational and relaxing. The Arboretum is part of the University of Pennsylvania, and is the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Within its 92 public acres, thousands of rare and lovely woody plants, including many of Philadelphia's oldest and largest trees, are set in a romantic Victorian landscape garden of winding paths, streams, and special garden areas. Within the arboretum you will discover hidden grottos, fine arts, fountains, Japanese rock work, a formal rose garden, an elegant glasshouse fernery, native woodlands, plus ideas for planting trees that will thrive in urban areas.
Call 215-247-5777 for information on hours, admission and special
events; call x169 for reservations to the lecture. Also, check out
the web, site: http://www.upenn.edu/morris.
Beef 'n Beer Social
Come Join Us At The North Light Community Center Valentine Beef 'n Beer Social
Calendar of Events
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Make check payable to MNC and mail to Manayunk Neighborhood Council, PO Box 4667, Philadelphia, PA 19127