Story Archive January 16 2013

Editorial: A message for City Hall

Beware, dear long-suffering property owners in Philadelphia, the city taxman is coming to get you. Well, some of you, anyway.As you may have noticed from this week’s Page 1 story, the days of reckoning for city officials and residents alike are fast approaching. A massive, citywide reassessment of property values is nearly complete.Mayor Michael “The Reformer” Nutter and City Council are going to have to work with state lawmakers in Harrisburg to cushion what is likely to be a huge blow to residents in up-and-coming neighborhoods whose property values have soared since the city last undertook an accurate survey of the worth of homes and businesses in the City of Brotherly Love. The last such survey was conducted seemingly when Ben Franklin was in diapers.Gentle readers, anybody who tries to tell you the city can’t afford to give a break to property owners who face a doubling or tripling of their tax bill is lying. The city treasury is not exactly swimming in cash, but the city’s financial straits are not as dire as Mr. Nutter would have you believe.When the city cuts all of its fat, waste and inefficiency and tackles the underproductivity of many of the folks who “work” in City Hall, the Municipal Services Building and other city offices — when Mr. Nutter finally gets around to collecting the hundreds of millions of dollars in delinquent taxes from local and out-of-state deadbeats, and when the mayor and Council finally get around to slicing the city bureaucracy, including a few at-large Council seats — then, and only then, should the city be audacious enough to ask denizens of Philadelphia to pay more. Until then, City Hall, put up or shut up.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor Jan. 16, 2013

So many reasons to be proud to be a MayfairianGuest OpinionBy Joe DeFeliceMayfair isn’t as bad as Mayfair residents say it isOur neighborhood should reach back to that infamous Philadelphia billboard of the 1970s and adopt it as our own slogan. For the last three or so years, many neighborhood volunteers have spent time away from their families to make our community a better place to live.Usually when I pick up a copy of the Northeast Times or go on social media, the person badmouthing our neighborhood is usually one of our own residents, and this is disheartening, to say the least. How do we expect other people to respect our neighborhood if our own people dishonor it?Let’s be honest, Mayfair isn’t what it was in 1980, it isn’t what is was in 1990 and it isn’t even what it was in 2000; but then again, what neighborhood is? Some neighborhoods change for the good, some change for the bad and some just change, but that is OK. Different doesn’t have to mean bad.Have we seen a decline in mom-and-pop shops on the avenue? Sure we have. Have we seen an increase in pajama pants in the afternoon? You bet. But that is OK, because 2020 isn’t going to be like 2010, and 2030 isn’t going to be like 2020.I’m sure 2013 Fishtown and Bella Vista wouldn’t recognize their 1990 ancestor, but that is what life in the big city is all about. Now, you can sit back and watch others enact change on your neighborhood, or you can get into the fabric of the community and change it yourself, from within.Since we restarted the Mayfair Civic Association just over three years ago, we have seen some changes in our neighborhood, but rather than focus on the negatives, let’s look at the positives:• In 2009 there was a dirt and gravel patch on the east side of Lincoln High School. It is now a state-of-the-art, handicapped-accessible $80,000 playground built with the sweat equity of the neighborhood residents.• We took a little-used block of half-vacant storefronts on the 3500 block of Ryan Ave. and turned it into a one-of-a-kind farmers market that will be held biweekly starting this spring and will continue to include fresh vegetables, craft beer, local wine and neighborhood residents and merchants selling the wares, all the while, doing so with acoustic music floating in the background.• We took tragedies that struck our city in the form of police and fire deaths and turned them into positives with the Mayfair Fallen Heroes Run and have raised more than $20,000 for the families of police officers and firefighters and an additional $10,000 for scholarships, plaques, etc.• We took a parade that derailed off the avenue due to a “budget crunch” in the city and infused it with citizen activists and neighborhood talent and put it back on the avenue, bigger and better than ever.• We took neighborhood negatives like a proposed methadone clinic and turned it into a positive by engaging more than 800 residents at community meetings to stand up and fight to stop it, and we won the first round.• We took a dilapidated, boarded-up, vacant property that stood as an eyesore at Frankford and Sheffield and forced the owner to gut the place, fix the interior and install new windows and make it safe and habitable for a future family to call their first home.• Lastly, we’ve given the neighborhood events that, in the past, residents would have gone elsewhere for, such as an Easter Egg Hunt, our Spring Mayfair May Fair, Fall Festival, Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas Village and heck, we’ve even made it a lot easier for the over-30 (maybe over-40) crowd to tolerate the Shamrock Shuttle by working with the Mayfair Town Watch and the 15th Police District and, yes, the tavern owners, to make sure that there was adequate police presence, portable toilets and residents on hand to assist our out-of-town visitors and make Mayfair, whether we like it or not, a regional destination.So, with that, let me be the first to say that I am proud of our neighborhood and you should be, too. Let’s start 2013 off on a positive foot and work to better our community so that the next time someone asks you if you still live in Mayfair (and hangs on the word still), you can say “yes,” — proudly.Joe DeFeliceChairman, Mayfair Community Development CorporationPresident, Mayfair Civic Association

River Ward events for the week of Jan. 16

Community group meetings

The Actual Value Initiative: What are you worth?

During the next several months, Philadelphia City Council members will be figuring out how much the city’s going to charge you to live here. And sometime next month, you’re going to be mailed a number that will be key to Council’s arithmetic.

Kensington property owner: ‘you’re taking away my future’

Kensington business owner Meletios, “Mel” Anthanasiadis said the city is literally taking away his retirement plan.

Kensington property owner: ‘you’re taking away my future’

One East Kensington businessman is among those who own property recently seized by the city through through eminent domain, a legal yet seemingly controversial government power. Now, he’s central to a conversation about city residents’ rights and the rights of the city itself, not to mention blight elimination in the neighborhood.

Just another blighted building?

Port Richmond’s former Nativity B.V.M. School has been vacant for more than three years, and has become a target of theft and vandalism. And while a community-championed plan to convert it to senior housing is tied up in court, neighbors wonder what will come next.

Events (January 16, 2013)