Members of the Normandy Civic Association gave the FOP’s Lodge 5 a big welcome last week.
John McNesby, FOP president, on Jan. 17 asked association members to support the police union’s move from its current headquarters at Broad and Spring Garden streets to new digs on old IRS property on Caroline Road near Comly Road. The property at 11630 Caroline is zoned for industrial use, so the union needed two variances so it could operate as a social club and also have music.
That was a big “no problem” for the civic group’s members, who voted unanimously to support the FOP’s zoning application. Members said they would inform the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment of the association’s support.
“I see it as a definite plus,” said the civic group’s president, John Wisniewski.
The move makes sense for the union and the community, McNesby told members before they voted.
He said 68 percent of the FOP’s members are from the Northeast, so putting the union’s headquarters and catering hall where they live is a convenience for them. The current building is old, needs expensive repairs and the only available parking spots are on the street.
Former union head Rich Costello said the current building dates back from the time the FOP was “a beer and pretzels organization.”
The city’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge is now one of the largest police unions in the country, Costello said, and has outgrown its current HQ. The new location will be ideal, he added.
Having a lot of police officers coming and going adds an extra element of community protection, too, McNesby said.
“It would be a good thing for the neighborhood,” McNesby said.
McNesby and attorney Shawn Ward explained that the new union hall would be a great catering facility. McNesby added that, once building renovations are complete and the hall opened in the fall, he expected the hall would be booked for years in advance.
He said the union is paying a little more than $2 million for the property, and he hopes to sell the old building for about $1.8 million to the Philadelphia Boys Choir.
Normandy, a small neighborhood of less than 500 households, will soon be sandwiched by police facilities. The FOP lodge will be on the south end of the area, and the city’s new police training center is slated for the old reserve center on Woodhaven Road in the neighborhood’s north.
The city’s plan to use the reserve center received unanimous backing by the civic association members during their November meeting.
The civic organization’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Norcom Community Center, 10980 Norcom Road. ••EndFragment