Bars - and plans to extend bar hours - debated at NLNA meeting

Neigh­bors dis­cussed a City Coun­cil pro­pos­al that could see bar hours throughout Phil­adelphia ex­ten­ded to 3 a.m. in a move to raise funds for Philly schools.

Res­id­ents who at­ten­ded a Jan. 26 meet­ing of the North­ern Liber­ties Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation were pleased to hear that Fin­neg­an’s Wake won’t at­tempt to have Bod­ine Street closed to the pub­lic for con­struc­tion of a patio.

Dur­ing the meet­ing in the com­munity build­ing at 3rd Street and Fair­mount Av­en­ue, NLNA pres­id­ent Matt Ruben said a City Coun­cil bill that would have sup­por­ted the pro­ject has of­fi­cially been killed. 

Just the same, Ruben said, the civic group still wants to work on something that would meet the needs of the neigh­bor­hood and Fin­neg­an’s Wake. Plans are be­ing worked out for fu­ture im­prove­ments. 

In oth­er busi­ness, the or­gan­iz­a­tion de­voted some dis­cus­sion to a bill in­tro­duced last week by City Coun­cil­wo­man Blondell Reyn­olds Brown (D-at large) to per­mit bars in Phil­adelphia to stay open an hour longer, un­til 3 a.m.

Brown has claimed that the li­quor-tax rev­en­ue gained in that ad­di­tion­al hour of busi­ness could res­ult in an ad­di­tion­al $5 mil­lion, which she would like to see ded­ic­ated to the sup­port of Phil­adelphia’s pub­lic schools.

One res­id­ent at last week’s meet­ing said she favored the bill be­cause it would of­fer more of an op­por­tun­ity to spend a night on the town. Many oth­ers, though, seemed less than thrilled with the coun­cil­wo­man’s bill, which still faces an ap­prov­al pro­cess.

Al­though their neigh­bor­hood is a mixed-use area, some said, such is­sues as park­ing, noise and the sobri­ety of drivers were likely to arise in the fu­ture.

“Per­son­ally, I live across the street from a pretty pop­u­lar bar,” said North­ern Liber­ties res­id­ent Richard Braun. “Dur­ing the sum­mer, spring and fall, when their deck is open, I can hear the rumble. It’s a nice bar and I know the own­ers, but some­times, even late at night at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., my win­dows will be closed and my air con­di­tion­er will be on and I’ll still hear the rum­bling. My whole street is res­id­en­tial and it’s just not a good idea.”

The bal­ance of last week’s meet­ing was de­voted to dis­cus­sion of the neigh­bor­hood, its latest hap­pen­ings, and some up­com­ing activ­it­ies. 

Ruben urged res­id­ents to sup­port fund-rais­ing activ­it­ies for crime vic­tim Kev­in Neary.  He was re­turn­ing to his North­ern Liber­ties home after a night at the Piazza when he was shot in the neck dur­ing an at­temp­ted rob­bery.

He is para­lyzed from the neck down, and a fund-raiser or­gan­ized by friends and fam­ily was held Jan. 29 to as­sist Neary.

After the event, the NLNA an­nounced that it had gen­er­ated more than $20,000 for Neary. Pop­u­lar bowl­ing hot­spot North Bowl hos­ted the sold-out event and donated the day’s pro­ceeds to the Neary fund.

Dona­tions also are be­ing ac­cep­ted via the civic group’s Web site at

Dur­ing last week’s meet­ing, com­munity mem­bers also dis­cussed a few on­go­ing pro­jects in­ten­ded to beau­ti­fy the neigh­bor­hood. The Madis­on Me­mori­al Park, bet­ter known as “Dough­boy Park,” has at­trac­ted at­ten­tion. Ruben saidthe park has been re-graded and un­der­gone some work for storm-wa­ter man­age­ment. The Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment “put tens of thou­sands of dol­lars in­to this pro­ject, and most of the work was un­der­ground,” Ruben told res­id­ents.

There are new stone walls and new block sur­faces, he ad­ded. The park is open, al­though work is still be­ing wrapped up. For ex­ample, plants and trees will be ad­ded in the early spring, fol­lowed by a form­al rib­bon-cut­ting.

The high­way over­pass nearby on Spring Garden Street also will be get­ting a facelift. 

The NLNA re­ceived grant money in 2009 for this pro­ject, but more work will still be done.  The area leaves much to be de­sired, said Ruben.

“One neigh­bor said that right now, it looks like a place where you go to get stabbed,” Ruben joked. 

Ac­cord­ing to Ruben, there have been delays to the pro­ject be­cause there are plans for the Delaware River Wa­ter­front Corp. to get in­volved. The agency plans to put thou­sands of dol­lars in­to the pro­ject, and work will most likely be­gin in the sum­mer­time, he ad­ded. 

In ad­di­tion to these pro­jects, the Pennsylvania En­vir­on­ment­al Coun­cil will be work­ing on its sec­tion of the East Coast Gre­en­way pro­ject, a 2,500-mile ini­ti­at­ive that, if all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, will stretch from Maine to Flor­ida with a net­work of bik­ing and walk­ing paths.

In Phil­adelphia, the plans are to con­nect the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River by way of Spring Garden Street. 

These plans will not af­fect any of the NLNA’s work on Spring Garden Street, said Ruben.

He urged res­id­ents to be pa­tient for these changes.

ldquo;The park is the first vis­ible sign, but not the last,” he said.

Up­com­ing Event:

On Sunday, Feb. 12, from 3 to 6 p.m., the North Bowl will host the North­ern Liber­ties Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation’s an­nu­al Win­ter­fest. Tick­ets cost $20 for adults and $10 for chil­dren and seni­ors. They are for sale at the NLNA of­fice and on the Web site at

North Bowl is at 909 N. 2nd St. Funds raised dur­ing this event will help fund fu­ture pro­jects in the com­munity. 

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