An extremely informal summary on some possible traffic & privacy issues at last Monday night’s meeting. Also, is Penn Charter a good neighbor or did they fail basic community manners?

Another month, another Community Council meeting. This one was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing because we got horrible video! Monday night, a big thunderstorm was blowing in, and the wind coming thru the church windows wreaked havoc with our dinky camera’s mic.

Still worked for note-taking purposes but painful to listen to. If something really dramatic happened I could probably salvage a clip with a couple of filters but hopefully a synopsis will work for what I’m sharing here. Again, not so much to report in East Falls.

Except for maybe the newly-elected officers, woot!  Not all of the candidates were present, but the recommended ballot passed without a hitch. Looked to be about 60 people voting.

ZONING   Vice President/now President Bill Epstein touched lightly on the trifecta (PhillyU, EPPI, PHA) — nothing new there, really.

Penn Charter, however. Hmm. This seems a little weird but I hardly know how everything works so I’m just laying this out here for review, guys:

EFCC handled a recent neighbor issue concerning improvements Penn Charter made to their track & football field. We obtained a copy of the original complaint here but basically the neighbor felt Penn Charter was outta line to cut down a whole row of trees along the street. She called for Community Council to stop “another unnecessary assault of the quality of life in our neighborhood.”

Bill Epstein and Barnaby Wittels addressed this situation Monday night, saying Penn Charter informed them the tree removal was necessary to do the upgrades, and they will be replaced as soon as possible with the biggest trees they can.

Cool, right? Penn Charter’s campus is beautiful, they seem to know what they’re doing. The trees have since been removed and upgrades are going as planned.  As you can see from the pics we snapped last night, the area in question is just a little stretch along the fence on the inside of Penn Charter’s property fence. So here’s where it got weird for me.

Instead of, like, moving on from what seemed like nicely settled business (to me), Barnaby added that they chastised Penn Charter for failing to inform Community Council in a timely fashion. Bill chimed in (paraphrasing here, can’t really make it out exactly), “Penn Charter told us they didn’t ask for a meeting because they didn’t have a plan. Well the time to call us is BEFORE you have the plan!”

Barnaby added, “That’s a FAIL for Community Relations 101. They failed! They have a lot to learn (unintelligible)!”

They really seemed incensed that Penn Charter would dare muck about with their own landscaping on their own property  without asking the community’s opinion first. Which kinda blows me away, cause in my world, I don’t check in with my neighbors over yard stuff. Like, I can’t imagine asking, “Hey, you mind if I plant corn, you might be able to see it from your porch…”

And if someone who lived up the street from me got huffy because I didn’t ask his permission to remove a rose bush in my own backyard, well… I’d be very confused. And not terribly accommodating, I’m afraid. 

Are property rules that different for institutions vs homeowners? Did Penn Charter deserve our Community Council’s public finger wag? Honestly, I am wondering because seems to me Penn Charter is a lovely neighbor and an asset to East Falls. Should we be giving ’em a hard time? Seems they’re only trying to keep up their property as best as possible. Am I missing something?

TRAFFIC    Who’s In For Some RUMBLE STRIPS?!    Mary Jane Fullam (of East Falls Town Watch) told Council that neighbors want rumble strips on the 3700 block of Midvale, to run “parallel to the curb” on the outer lane coming up from Ridge Avenue. She was advised to send an email to John Gillespie, and also Barnaby suggested “it might be useful to have a petition from the neighbors.”

Later in John Gillespie’s presentation, another neighbor spoke up (didn’t give his name), about the speed cushions on Schoolhouse Lane.  He was concerned they create more hazard than they’re preventing, a situation he believed will only worsen when winter arrives and snowplows are on the road.

“They’re not bad now in clear weather, with new paint — but how well are they going to hold up, really?” He predicted one big snowfall and they’d be a mess; he also felt they’re going to make driving (and snowplowing) even more difficult on snowy roads — “going over them, you won’t know if you hit a dog, a child, you won’t know what it is.”

Even now, in nice weather, they were a problem for him. “Cars go an average of 15 mph down Schoolhouse. They’ll go over one cushion, maybe two. But then the cars start stopping, like they don’t know what to do.”  Council urged audience members to email issues to them for review.


Have you noticed the new security cameras being installed around East Falls? Apparently our police department hasn’t been terribly forthcoming about who ordered them, what they’re watching for, where the data is going, etc. Newsworks recently did an article on ’em, which was mentioned during Monday’s meeting.

In addition, Barnaby shared his feelings on “Big Brother,” and an Apalogen Lane resident related a disturbing encounter with a possible intruder in her home, where the police failed her and no one will provide a satisfactory explanation.

*Again, sorry for the sound quality (the wind didn’t seem too bad here but maybe I just got used to it… )


  1. I am totally shocked that some EFCC members think they deserve to be informed every time someone makes a plan to do something on their property. That is why I don’t live in the Burbs with their BS homeowner associations. Maybe they should focus on the people who don’t maintain their property more than the people who do and don’t feel the need to tell them of all their plans.

    Hey guys, I am cutting my lawn on Saturday. Are you OK with that. Should we vote on it? Would you like my lawnmower height set on #2 or #3? Bag or mulch? Beer afterwards fine?

  2. And on top of that, Penn Charter has been very community relations focused regardless of what leaders may mumble. They have allowed cars for the Flea Market to park on campus, allow us to use their track for exercise, and even let Friends of McMicheal park move the Shakespear event to their theater when it was raining on the day of the event at no charge. And we repay their generosity by complaining that they needed to remove some trees as part of campus renovations and didn’t look to EFCC for approval. Sometime it really feels to me like community relations to EFCC is a one way street.

    • And let’s not forget that the EFCC’s weekly slow-pitch softball game, headed by Bill Epstein, is played on Penn Charter’s fields! Sounds like a pretty hospitable neighbor to us!

  3. Steve — Thanks for the plug about our Sunday morning softball game, but next time please don’t hesitate to call me to get your facts straight. I do not “head” the game, and the game is not “the EFCC’s.” The EF Community Council has nothing to do with the game, Our 35+ year gathering has been promoted in the EFCC’s weekly emails, but so have hundreds of similar events of interest. These errors aside, Penn Charter has been a very good neighbor to East Fallls residents, and I have every reason to believe this will continue to be the case. But the neighbors on Coulter St. facing the football field and track had every right to expect that the school inform them about such a large project directly across the street from their homes. The impact was significant. The school agreed — or else why did it have the last-minute meeting with the residents?

    • Hey, Bill! We messaged you back in April for details via Facebook, where a “WilliamEpstein” had reached out to us about the softball game (no one replied. BTW, still happy to cover a game if you’d like–let us know when we can show up for pics). Which is why we assumed you were “head” but that’s cool, happy to clarify here.

      Whoever’s game it is, fact is we have video of you saying not-so-nice things about Penn Charter’s neighbor relations. Which is kinda weird, considering they kindly have been hosting your softball game for over 35 years, as well as the other things Brian pointed out that Penn Charter does for the community.

      You might feel that when Penn Charter holds an emergency meeting it means that the meeting is justified. Whereas I kinda feel a lot of these meetings are probably just to shut you guys up. They certainly don’t seem to affect Penn Charter’s plans much, if at all. Shrug.

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