EFCC’s final business before summer break includes grants, elections, some announcements & an EFDC presentation.
Ugh! Our video of EFCC’s June meeting has the worst audio – the acoustics in EF Presby Church’s basement were all wrong for Facebook Live, plus for some reason there was intermittent buzzing down there… ?? Lesson learned! Meanwhile, between our notes and the handouts we’ve still got you covered.
Fortunately, too, this was a rather “slow news” month. The most interesting tidbit, for us, was that Grasso has pulled his permits for his project on the empty lot across from the Falls Bridge (formerly the “Rivage” property). This essentially means the clock has started for construction to begin – if ground doesn’t break by November, the developers will have to apply again.
Plans call for a five-story building with four floors of residential and commercial on the ground floor. 142 units, with 118 parking spaces for residents as well as customers for the café and fresh market/grocer Grasso hopes to attract here. To accommodate traffic, they’ll be adding a 3rd lane on Calumet (for turning) and one on Ridge (rush hour traffic/off-peak parking).
In other news, NewCourtland’s Senior Living center on Henry Avenue has filled their first 49 senior apartments and is getting ready to open 36 more efficiencies & 1 bedrooms soon. Phase Two also includes a dog park and community garden for East Falls and Allegheny West (the property shares borders with both neighborhoods). Standby for opening dates…
EFCC’s traffic chair John Gillespie pitched radar speed signs to help calm traffic on Warden Drive near Henry Avenue. The City will totally approve this if we agree to pay for them ourselves: $6000+ plus the cost of installation and a Memorandum of Understanding promising we’ll maintain them. John’s all for it but EFCC president Bill Epstein stressed that the neighborhood pays taxes and the City should cover the cost. Also, seems it’s been a year since EFCC’s traffic committee has convened.
Town Watch will be hosting a litter cleanup June 22nd along Ferry Road by Twin Bridges. 9am – 11am ish. Then at noon EFDC will lead their own business corridor cleanup with snacks and also t-shirts (?!) till 2pm (gather at the Farmers Market).
Mifflin School has enrolled more kindergarten kids from this catchment area for this coming school year than the history of the school (as far as Bill can remember).
An EFCC member motioned to accept the ballot recommended by EFCC’s executive nominations committee. Seconded. Passed. Congrats, guys.
President: Bill Epstein
Vice President, zoning: Todd Baylson
Vice President, Events: Mary Alice Duff
Treasurer: Joe Leube
Corresponding secretary: Christina Spolsky
Recording secretary: Mary Jean Cunningham
Exec. Committee at-large members:
They’re currently working on a Business Owner Survey to help target needs and resources, like storefront improvement grants, small business loans, professional advice, etc. EFDC is also trying to “reinvigorate East Falls’ profile” – Meredith has been busy promoting the neighborhood on Facebook and EFDC’s newly-designed website, discovereastfalls.org.
EFDC also supports events (like the Beer Garden & Farmers Market) and manages the parking lot under the Twin Bridges. In addition, they work with the City on planning, zoning, traffic, parking, storm drainage, mass transit, etc. to create commercial corridors that best serve the community.
Meredith shared EFDC’s three goals:
- Clean & beautify East Falls’ commercial corridors
- Fill vacant storefronts with invested, long-term tenants
- Promote East Falls businesses in the neighborhood & throughout Philly
Meredith announced there were upcoming Commercial Corridor meetings where designers, architects, construction managers, etc. put their heads together, pro bono. To join the team, drop her a line to Meredith.email@example.com or call 215-848-8084. Carolyn Sutton added that there’s a separate committee targeting the plantings in the traffic island heading into the Falls from Kelly Drive. All welcome! Meredith can hook you up with times/dates/locations.
The EFCC Grants Committee, composed of Mary Jean Cunningham, Chair, and Faith McDowell and Thomas Flynn, recommends grants as follows:
- $400 to Friends of Inn Yard Park to install shelves and hooks in a garden house being built at the park to store materials and tools used for the park.
- $500 to East Falls Community Garden to rebuild a shed destroyed by a fallen tree and for expenses related to chipping Christmas trees for use in the garden.
- $500 to East Falls Town Watch to assist with basic overhead expenses, costs related to patrols by members, litter cleanups in East Falls and National Night Out.
- $500 to Old Academy Play House to assist with buying new seats for the theater.
- $600 to Friends of McMichael Park to support the annual Theater in the Park production
- $800 to East Falls Tree Tenders to help pay for nature-related programs at Mifflin School, field trip expenses and a book for each Mifflin graduate.
Finally – a surprising development that we feel is important to broadcast: EFCC seems to have reversed their position on the young African Americans seen panhandling/running scams at the Sunoco on Ridge Avenue. Back in 2017, Community Council was encouraging neighbors to call 911 whenever they saw them. This meeting, however, Bill said he no longer viewed police intervention as a favorable solution. “I think this is a situation where they can’t do much,” he told the room, “We don’t want the police chasing the kids into traffic… that’s not safe.”
Instead, he was pleased to report that the gas station has a new manager, who has promised to pay for a guard on the premises if needed. In the meantime, they say they’ve moved the trashcans the kids had been sitting on to where the staff can better monitor them.
Shout out to Gary Chlapaty on Nextdoor, who has his chlapanties in a bunch because we wouldn’t let him dominate the EF Rants page feed with his constant drumbeat to call the cops, make arrests, and spend resources patrolling Sunoco’s property for them when they are, in fact, a private company who should not be exploiting the community or Philadelphia’s Police Department. Not to mention endangering these kids’ lives every day they allow them to congregate here.
Kudos to EFCC for seeing the light! Sunoco needs to step up to protect their customers, employees and also these kids from their own worst instincts. A corporate entity as huge as Sunoco absolutely has the funds to handle this issue — but they’re not just going to throw money at a problem without having some solid data to support claims being made.
We’ve spoken with reps from local outreach groups who know of programs and resources available that might help in East Falls. The first step for all of them is documentation. When you see these kids panhandling, pull out your smart phone from a safe distance and try to get a quick video documenting time, date and headcount.
All this info is helpful to demand better parking lot monitoring and, if necessary, to flood Sunoco’s corporate chain and social media with proof until they clean up their act. Remember, the object isn’t to ID the kids but to show proof to Sunoco that we’ve got a problem and we need them to fix it asap.
Email us your videos/images or share on EF Rants with time/date/location/number of individuals along with your contact information for verification, thanks!
EFCC is now off for the summer, they’ll be back in September. Meanwhile, East Falls Forward (East Falls’ other Registered Community Organization) continues regular 3rd Thursday happy hours. Catch up on neighborhood news and then follow us on over to the Twin Bridges where the beer garden will be in full swing. See you there!