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