Members of the Normandy Civic Association are OK with plans to train police officers on the site of the old reserve center on Woodhaven Road, but some residents of the small neighborhood have some reservations.
At the association’s Nov. 17 meeting, several residents of Joseph Kelly Terrace told city planner Mike Thompson and project manager Francis Matejik that they were worried about the plan’s impact on their properties.
Still, a vote of Normandy residents present favored the city getting the zoning variances needed for the Police Department to use the residentially zoned land. The federal government didn’t need any such variance to operate the reserve center, said civic association president John Wisniewski
Even those who had some objections to the city’s current plan for the site voted to support the variance. Neighbors and public officials had said they believed police training was the best use for the nine-acre site.
Resident John Burke was concerned about what would happen to the community if neighbors didn’t back the police plan.
“We had to fight like heck to get something decent in there that will keep up our property values,” he said. “If public housing gets in there, say goodbye to Normandy.”
No members opposed the police-training plan, although the vote took place after a lot of discussion.
Joseph Kelly Terrace residents Alex Bartlett, Doug Hackney, Zhen Jin and Stanley Kubacki said they were particularly concerned about putting a pedestrian gate on the property that would open into their street, which they said they own.
Because it is a privately owned street, they said, the city does not plow it after a snowfall. If anyone slips on the street when it is covered with ice or snow, they said they would be held responsible. If the city encourages pedestrian traffic on their street, then the city is putting them at legal risk.
More than a half-dozen Joseph Kelly Terrace residents were at the Nov. 17 civic meeting. Some said that many of their neighbors don’t know their properties extend from the homes’ lots across the street and 10 feet in the wooded, but often soggy, land on the other side.
Joseph Kelly Terrace is the eastern boundary of Normandy, a neighborhood of fewer than 500 households that sits east of the Boulevard between Comly and Woodhaven roads.
It has been known for years that the U.S. Defense Department was going to cease operations at the Philadelphia Memorial Reserve Center, 2838-98 Woodhaven Road.
About five years ago, Normandy residents supported the city’s proposal to move police training, except for the firing range, to the old military site west of Thornton Road.
But in October, some neighbors said the plan they supported then included an access road from Thornton Road across the northern part of the woods between Thornton and Joseph Kelly, not a road that would run parallel with their street from Comly Road to the reserve center.
That original road plan wouldn’t work, city officials told them in October, because the land close to Woodhaven Road is prone to flooding.
At the Nov. 17 meeting, Kubacki also asked about street lights on the access road shining into Kelly Terrace homes, and Jin said the new access road, as planned, would come very close to his property.
Thompson and Matejik discussed the residents’ concerns, and Matejik said the pedestrian gate shouldn’t be a deal breaker and can be removed from the plans. He added the access road’s lights could be directed away from nearby homes. ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org