Somerton’s World War I and World War II veterans have a bright new memorial thanks to the members of a local Boy Scout troop, along with several generous businessmen and neighbors. The Somerton Civic Association helped bring them all together.
Boy Scout William Gibbs of Troop 444, based at Philadelphia Academy Charter School, approached the SCA about a year ago seeking help on his Eagle Scout project. He wanted to rehabilitate the stone veterans memorial outside the Somerton United Methodist Church, on Trevose Avenue just north of Bustleton Avenue. But he needed donations of materials and professional services to make the project happen.
During the Nov. 15 general meeting of the SCA, Gibbs reported that the project is complete, although he and his troop intend to provide ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the memorial.
The project wouldn’t have been possible, Gibbs explained, without several key contributors.
Northeast-based bronze specialist Bob Thornton re-faced the plaques that list each of the memorialized veterans. Thornton donated about $3,000 in labor and materials. Tree specialist Jonathan Riggs trimmed and removed overgrown trees and shrubs, contributing more than $1,000 worth of services.
Eddington Supply, a building materials supplier in Bensalem Township, contributed more than $1,000 of stone that the scouts used to landscape around the monument.
The scout troop also recognized the longtime efforts of area resident Compton Chase, who for years had been the primary caretaker of the memorial, doing his best to mow the lawn and maintain its appearance.
Dan Lodise, chief of staff for state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.), presented House citations to each contributor in recognition of their support.
The monument marks the traditional location of the reviewing stand in the annual Somerton Memorial Day Parade. The parade was cancelled in 2011 for the first time in more than a decade due to declining contributions and volunteerism. The SCA has not ruled out re-organizing the parade for future Memorial Day activities.
In unrelated SCA business:
• The civic group voted in non-opposition to a car dealer’s plan to use a commercial property at 10065-67 Sandmeyer Lane as a warehouse for his wholesale business.
Attorney Shawn Ward said that his client hopes to store up to seven cars at a time inside the 1,800-square-foot unit, which he will lease. The client is a retail car salesman who is starting his wholesale business. He plans to buy late model, “high-end” used cars at auctions and from private owners. A couple times per month, he will truck them to Bayonne, N.J., where they will be shipped to overseas buyers.
Wholesale business is not permitted under the property’s zoning, Ward said.
Some SCA members complained that the business would attract additional unwanted truck traffic to the neighborhood. Other members noted that a few extra trucks each month wouldn’t be a great burden, considering the high volume of traffic already in the area. Also, the site is in an industrial district.
Ward reported that the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation has endorsed the variance, providing that the business stores all vehicles inside and not in the parking lot or on the street. SCA members approved the zoning variance, 15-6.
• Kristin Sawka, manager of the Bustleton Branch Library, at 10199 Bustleton Ave., invited the community to participate in many activities hosted by the library. The library offers English as a Second Language classes and English conversation groups, “storytime” days for grade school children, Overeaters Anonymous meetings and “gaming” days each week.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, it will host an E-book open house for users of Kindle, Nook and similar devices. On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union will present an “understand your credit” workshop. For information on all library events, visit the Facebook page “Bustleton Branch-Free Library of Philadelphia” or call 215-685-0472.
• The next Somerton Civic Association meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Walker Lodge 306, 1290 Southampton Road. ••
Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org