East Kensington Neighbors Association looks forward

Me­mori­al park for fire­fight­ers who lost their lives was on the agenda, among oth­er is­sues for EKNA, at a mem­ber­ship meet­ing last week.

Dur­ing the East Kens­ing­ton Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation’s mem­ber­ship meet­ing last week at the Phil­adelphia Brew­ing Com­pany at 2439 Am­ber St., 40 res­id­ents dis­cussed how to keep the ball rolling on plans to help grow and de­vel­op their neigh­bor­hood.

Those plans in­clude a po­ten­tial me­mori­al park hon­or­ing the two fire­fight­ers who died in April dur­ing the Buck Ho­siery fire.

“Something we are really ex­cited about is the pos­sib­il­ity of a large scale com­mons park ded­ic­ated to Lt. [Robert] Neary and Fire­fight­er [Daniel] Sweeney who died on April 9, and to all the fire­fight­ers who saved the west­ern edge of our neigh­bor­hood from com­plete de­struc­tion,” EKNA pres­id­ent Jeff Carpin­eta said.

The memory of the Buck Ho­siery fact­ory fire still hangs over the com­munity, and was ob­vi­ous in neigh­bors’ con­cerns about the mostly va­cant fact­ory at York and Jasper streets.

“If the 40 miles per hour stream of fire em­bers was blow­ing south on April 9, the build­ing would have burned down,” Carpin­eta said of the fact­ory at York and Jasper. “It would risk des­troy­ing a whole oth­er sec­tion of the neigh­bor­hood as well shut­ting the El down for days or weeks. We’ve been ex­tremely nervous about the place.”

At the meet­ing, at­tendees heard that the fact­ory on the 1800 block of York Street has been pur­chased by a new own­er with plans to re­vital­ize the place. However, Carpin­eta poin­ted out, there were also plans to bring the Buck Ho­siery fact­ory back to life that nev­er had a chance to be real­ized.

EKNA is also wait­ing to hear back about an ap­plic­a­tion for fund­ing from a loc­al found­a­tion to help plan and ex­ecute the re­design of the Hagert Street Play­ground. Early plans in­clude a mass tree plant­ing, in­vit­ing the Mur­al Arts Pro­gram to design a mur­al, and adding more green­ery.

“The work at Hagert Play­ground and the Me­mori­al Park pro­ject prom­ise to con­nect old and new res­id­ents, young and old,” Carpin­eta said.

Mem­bers at the EKNA meet­ing also heard from rep­res­ent­at­ives of Cath­ol­ic Health Care Ser­vices, which has pro­posed a seni­or hous­ing pro­ject de­vel­op­ment on Em­er­ald Street between Hagert and Let­terly streets. While still in its in­fancy, if the va­cant lot in ques­tion can be re-zoned, and if the pro­ject moves for­ward, it would bring in 40 units of seni­or hous­ing for res­id­ents 62 and up, with an in­come of $32,000 or less.

Oth­er EKNA plans un­der dis­cus­sion at the meet­ing in­cluded or­gan­iz­ing neigh­bor-to-neigh­bor phone trees for crime re­port­ing, and hold­ing edu­ca­tion and ad­vocacy classes on prop­erty tax re­form for res­id­ents.

Near­er on the ho­ri­zon are a slew of beau­ti­fic­a­tion pro­jects, like the fall clean-up and bar­be­cue on Oct. 13, held in con­junc­tion with the Old Rich­mond Civic As­so­ci­ation and the Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation.

From Oct. 6 to 14, the Young In­volved Phil­adelphia group will be hold­ing a sus­tain­ab­il­ity walk­ing tour in Kens­ing­ton to see how green tech­no­logy and sus­tain­able prac­tices have be­nefited the neigh­bor­hood.

A fall com­munity pic­nic is planned at Em­er­ald Park at the end of Oc­to­ber.

An­oth­er idea that was tossed around at the meet­ing was set­ting up an artist­ic mini-golf park in the neigh­bor­hood, a pro­pos­al be­ing cir­cu­lated by Pete An­gev­ine, a co-founder of Little Baby’s ice Cream, and oth­er EKNA lead­ers.

“The idea is that a healthy neigh­bor­hood needs fun things to do,” Carpin­eta said about the idea. “Just as pro­grams, ini­ti­at­ives and de­vel­op­ment are all im­port­ant in re­build­ing a neigh­bor­hood, so too are the things that cap­ture the hearts of the young and old — things like pizza, ice cream, a movie theat­er and mini-golf.”

“East Kens­ing­ton has the most amaz­ing col­lec­tion of artists and makers any­where in the city,” he went on to say, “And we can’t wait to see what they dream in the next two years.”

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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