Northeast Times

NoLibs updates: Parks, Plans, and a place called 'Phlirt'

The neigh­bor­hood's monthly civic meet­ing touched on a num­ber of top­ics, from beau­ti­fic­a­tion pro­jects to an all-ages club on Delaware Av­en­ue.

The North­ern Liber­ties Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation’s monthly meet­ing, held Thursday, Oct. 27, was a treas­ure trove of in­form­a­tion.

NLNA pres­id­ent Matt Ruben led the busy get-to­geth­er, breez­ily mov­ing through the many top­ics on hand.

Up­dates in­cluded in­form­a­tion on the on­go­ing im­prove­ment of Madis­on Me­mori­al Park — of­ten simply called “Dough­boy Park” in ref­er­ence to the statue of a World War I-era sol­dier that stands near 2nd and Spring Garden streets —  and a present­a­tion from VIA­DUCT­greene.

••

VIA­DUCT­greene is a group at­tempt­ing to re­claim the Read­ing Via­duct, a raised sec­tion of tracks that runs along the former 9th Street and City branches of the Read­ing Rail­road, and turn the area in­to three miles of pub­lic park­land.

Or­gan­izers from VIA­DUCT­greene said the pro­ject is still in its early stages, and they hope to host a design com­pet­i­tion to for the park next year.

They are still work­ing with own­ers of the prop­erty. SEPTA owns the bulk of the via­duct,  and Read­ing In­ter­na­tion­al Rail­road owns the el­ev­ated City Branch. Or­gan­izers said they wanted to dis­cuss the idea with neigh­bors throughout the city as the plan pro­gresses.

“There’s a whole lot of work to be done,” ad­mit­ted Paul van­Met­er of VIA­DUCT­greene.

••

  While that ef­fort is just get­ting star­ted, a loc­al park pro­ject that is mak­ing great head­way is Madis­on Me­mori­al Park, NLNA board mem­ber Bar­bara Saverino told the audi­ence.

  In fact, she said, most of the con­struc­tion that will add seat­ing to the area, as well as a sunken garden, shaded areas, a rain garden and oth­er fea­tures, could be com­pleted with­in two to three months, de­pend­ing on the weath­er.

  The pro­ject will also cre­ate a walk­ing path from the El stop at Spring Garden Street to­ward Second Street.

Plant­ing and land­scap­ing will take more time, however.

Through an agree­ment with the city, Saverino said, the NLNA will need to clean and main­tain the park as time goes on, but the group seemed happy to take on that chore now that the pro­ject is un­der way.

“The city signed off on it, so we are mov­ing for­ward,” she said.

••

Nearby, there will also be work done on the I-95 un­der­pass at Spring Garden Street, which will see light­ing and oth­er fea­tures ad­ded to the area. The beau­ti­fic­a­tion ef­fort there could ex­pand, Ruben said, as the Delaware River Wa­ter­front Cor­por­a­tion re­cently joined oth­er the groups work­ing on the pro­ject.

Ruben said that the DRWC’s par­ti­cip­a­tion is wel­come, but it will cause the pro­ject to be delayed a little while longer due to new plans tied to the group’s ef­forts to im­prove streets that con­nect neigh­bor­hoods with the river.

••

Mov­ing on to talk about oth­er is­sues, Ruben said that at a NLNA Zon­ing Com­mit­tee meet­ing held earli­er that week, the pan­el heard a plan to have Bod­ine Street stricken from Streets De­part­ment maps. That would al­low Fin­neg­an’s Wake, at 3rd and Spring Garden, to con­struct a three-story deck for its pat­rons.

While no Zon­ing Com­mit­tee find­ing is of­fi­cial un­til it’s dis­cussed by the NLNA board in its reg­u­lar meet­ings, Ruben said the pan­el’s mem­bers were “over­whelm­ingly against” the plan.

“Some neigh­bors felt they already took the street without of­fi­cially tak­ing the street,” said Ruben, not­ing the fact that the pop­u­lar night­spot has long blocked that street with trash bins.

  “You know, it’s still a street,” agreed Larry Freed­man, Zon­ing Com­mit­tee head. “The fact that they blocked it with Dump­sters doesn’t mean it’s not a street … We have a lot of little streets like that in the neigh­bor­hood that we use and there’s no reas­on for that street not to be one of them.”

The plan would see three 900-square foot decks built at the rear of the bar. If built, Freed­man said, the own­er plans to serve al­co­hol there as well.

But, he said, there are a lot of per­mis­sions ne­ces­sary be­fore that could hap­pen. To serve li­quor out­side, Freed­man said, the bar’s own­er would need per­mis­sion from the state, and City Coun­cil would need to ap­prove a bill to have any street stricken from city re­cord.

Ruben said City Coun­cil­man Frank Di­Cicco (D-1st dist.) draf­ted a bill to strike Bod­ine Street, to the rear of Fin­neg­an’s Wake, from city maps. But, Ruben said the coun­cil­man also wouldn’t push the bill for­ward without first hear­ing in­put on the plan from loc­als. He urged those in at­tend­ance to con­tact their coun­cil mem­ber to voice their opin­ion of the plan.

••

While blight is a prob­lem throughout the city, the NLNA just re­ceived a $60,000 grant to be used to im­prove a blighted gar­age prop­erty that the group owns.

It’s loc­ated next to the group’s com­munity cen­ter at 3rd Street and Fair­mount Av­en­ue, and Ruben said the funds — provided by the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict — will be used in the hopes of turn­ing the gar­age in­to an act­ive com­mer­cial space.

“It will re­duce the blight that’s right next door,” he said.

••

Fi­nally, after the meet­ing, Freed­man dis­cussed plans for “Ph­lirt,” a new all-ages night club that own­ers hope to open at Delaware and Fair­mount av­en­ues at the old home of The Cave club.

Freed­man said the night­spot would cater to the 14-20 crowd and func­tion as an all-ages dance club, two-nights a week, from 8 p.m. to mid­night.

It would hold crowds of about 200 people, but Freed­man said that at a re­cent Zon­ing Com­mit­tee meet­ing, res­id­ents didn’t think the pro­ject would be a good fit for the area.

Freed­man said he’s talked to the 6th Po­lice Dis­trict about Ph­lirt and “they wer­en’t too happy about it either.”

For now, Freed­man said, own­ers of that prop­erty need spe­cial as­sembly and zon­ing per­mits be­fore open­ing, and he said the Zon­ing Com­mit­tee could not sup­port that pro­ject.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus