RECAP: Community Council Meeting, March 9 2015

East Falls Community Council held their regular monthly meeting as usual on the first Monday of the month (last night).

PRESIDENT BARNABY WITTELS spoke first,  announcing many available spots on Community Council this upcoming election. Positions are open to any East Falls resident who’s been a member of Community Council for at least one month.  For consideration, submit your name to the Nominating Committee.

EDITOR’S NOTE According to EFCC bylaws, looks like you can also nominate yourself from the floor, which only requires another Council member to second your motion — all nominations, however, must be in by the April membership meeting.

Before turning the floor over to zoning updates, Barnaby made the following announcement about proposed development at Ridge Flats:

“Also it looks like Ridge Flats deal has kinda stumbled and almost fallen. Onion Flats is out of the picture and Grasso who had come in as their money partner has taken over the project. Looks like the green development is going to be scrapped and we don’t know where that is so that site may soon become available so keep your eye on that.”  — Barnaby Wittels EFCC President

According to GINA SNYDER of the East Falls Development Corporation, Grasso Holdings purchased the property, and will be operating as the managing partner with Onion Flats as the minority:  that much is public. Anything else is just speculation.  3-24-15 UPDATE:  NewsWorks reports “Ridge Flats Development One Step Closer to Reality“.

As far as Gina knows (via text from David Grasso himself), the approved plan is still moving ahead.

PennDot has some issues with the driveway that need to be worked out, and possibly the construction will need to be stick-built as opposed to modular — which in truth could create some challenges to maintain the “net zero energy” efficiency but no one’s saying the green plan is off the table.

In fact, this project just took a big step forward when Grasso closed on the lot at Ridge & Calumet earlier this month: congrats to them!

(Of course we don’t support developers selling us on one thing only to deliver something different, but neither are we fans of jumping to conclusions and putting investors on the defensive.)

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT BILL EPSTEIN then took the floor, announcing that demolition of the abandoned house at 3342 Conrad (above) would begin within a week.

About PhillyU’s 30-Year Master Plan, he explained the formation of a “working committee” representing the Zoning Committee and some of the neighbors involved (including Dr. Jonathan Berger, who reached out to us last month).

After meeting this group earlier this month, PhillyU invited additional neighbors to RVSP for any of four community outreach meetings they were offering. Bill indicated such a gesture looked like some kind of “end-run” around Community Council. Plus, he didn’t like the idea of four separate meetings “because you don’t know what’s said at one meeting versus at another meeting.”

Speaking of separate meetings, Bill then unironically announced he and Barnaby were arranging their own meeting with PhillyU president Stephen Spinelli, likely within the next few days, to reiterate concerns moving forward with the University (it was unclear whether they’d be representing the EFCC, the neighbors, the zoning committee or the working committee).

Regarding the 96 units of affordable housing proposed on Ridge: Bill and Meg Greenfield also recently met with Pennrose to discuss new ideas. Perhaps a compromise between that number and the 30 agreed upon in 2004..?

Finally, news about the property across the street: Bill announced that the old Delaware Valley High School site has been purchased and is now targeted for development. The new owner would like to build 52 units on this property, filling in space between the two buildings to make one big one. Stay tuned for plans etc.

JOHN GILLESPIE (Member at Large) then took the floor to address traffic issues:

1. The 3100 – 3200 block of Queen Lane will be getting four speed bumps and possibly rumble strips too sometime this Spring or early Summer,

2. Speed divots or whatever they are on Schoolhouse Lane near Henry to be removed & replaced with speed bumps/rumble strips,

3. Council feels PhillyTrans school bus company needs to stop using Midvale, Penn, Fox, Queen and Stokely Streets. PhillyTrans doesn’t agree that neighbors can tell bus companies where to drive.  Senator Hughes’ office is placing pressure on the bus company, plus Council hopes to get Channel 29 to cover this situation.

4. Walnut Lane Bridge repairs will begin in May and possibly run through the rest of the year. Traffic will be detoured to Wissahickon, down Midvale to Kelly drive, plus a new left-turn lane on Henry will encourage commuters to bypass our area altogether via Hunting Park.

Speakers for the night only had five minutes each to pitch the audience:

New Courtland representative Deborah Cross spoke about housing options for seniors from traditional “nursing homes” to various levels of assisted living.

Mary Flournoy of East Falls Village also offered a run-down of local services, as well as ways for volunteers to get involved.

Five schools spoke, as well: Mifflin, St. James, Germantown Friends, Penn Charter and Greene Street Friends.

In addition, two audience members chimed in — one for Catholic schools and another for Project Learn in Germantown, a mixed-ages co-operative run by parents and teachers.

Unfortunately, five minutes allowed for only superficial run-downs of each school. No discussion or Q&A as we were led to believe by the original agenda, “Community Discussions” (updated the morning of the meeting to simply “School Presentations,” ah well, a good start at least!).


Disgruntled 10-year resident asks why his area (Crawford & Conrad) lost 10 parking spots two months ago. He’s not thrilled by the president’s suggestion to join the “parking working group,” nor the lack of info provided up to and including this meeting.

ED NOTE:  For more information on traffic & parking in East Falls, come to the next Traffic Committee meeting 6:00 pm Monday March 16th in Down’s Hall on PhillyU’s campus. This month, the city’s chief traffic engineer will be on hand to address issues and questions. 


Julie Camburn (Fallser editor) spoke about a water pipe burst on Indian Queen lane that knocked out from 10 to 20 homes.

Attempts to verify this with the neighborhood as well as the Philadelphia Water Department yielded contradictory information. We’ll be interviewing IQL resident Laura Copeland Wednesday, as well as PWD spokesperson Paul Fugazzotto. Stay tuned! 3/12 READ THE UPDATE









  1. Whoa!! I am a member of the EFCC traffic committee and Coordinator of Monday evening’s meeting and the general public is not invited to this meeting! Number 1, parking issues are NOT on the agenda. This is being held to deal with proposal of installing Speed Humps (not Bumps) on Queen lane and some discussion on the ongoing issue of Philly Trans buses using a few residential blocks as a turning circle for access to US Rt 1(Roosevelt Expwy.)

    • Thank you for the correction — the meeting was announced last Monday as open to the general public more than once (John Gillespie explained how to get to Downs Hall), and you can see at the end of the parking snip (above) even Barnaby announced it so I guess some signals got crossed…? Thanks again for clarifying hope people don’t show up tonight & get turned away!

      • I’m dismayed that so much miscommunication came out of the EFCC mtg.

        Speed Humps are coming to Queen Lane. This has been a ten year effort to get traffic calming measures implemented.

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