The Take Back Your Neighborhood Civic Association observed a moment of silence for the shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., before welcoming comments from a police official, the city controller, a state representative and a two-time City Council candidate who specializes in economic development.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz has been a critic of the city’s Actual Value Initiative for six years. The policy will finally be implemented for the 2014 fiscal year.
At the civic association’s December meeting, Butkovitz urged everyone in attendance to “be all over City Council” as the 17-member body debates a millage rate, which will determine annual property taxes. He wants the rate to be no higher than 1.2 percent.
“The homeowners are the heart and soul of the city,” he said.
Lt. Thomas Macartney oversees the 2nd Police District’s Police Service Area 1, which includes the Castor Gardens area covered by the civic association. He reported a high number of cell phone robberies.
Macartney also addressed several recent reports of people posing as Water Department employees to gain access to homes to steal cash and jewelry. The impostors, who have been targeting older people, claim they need to check the pipes. There were incidents in the 2nd district on the 1100 block of St. Vincent St. and the 2200 block of Tyson Ave.
“Lock the door and tell them, ‘I’ll check,’” Macartney suggested to anyone who has a knock on the door about a supposed water problem.
State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172nd dist.) does not represent Castor Gardens, but will have some of the area if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approves maps passed by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. He called for “common-sense gun control” at the state level after the deadly shootings in Connecticut.
Boyle grew up in Olney, and said that in more recent years he and his father had guns pulled on them by people in the neighborhood. He faults lawmakers in western Pennsylvania for opposing gun control measures.
“They’re afraid to do anything the NRA opposes,” he said.
Andy Toy has twice run unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a City Council at-large seat. He lives in Center City and works in economic development and commercial corridor revitalization. He was surprised to not see a fellow Asian-American at the meeting. Castor Gardens has a growing number of Asians, many of them business owners on Castor Avenue and Bustleton Avenue. Take Back Your Neighborhood leaders say they would like to see a greater presence of Asian Americans at their meetings.
“I’m happy to try to communicate that,” Toy said.
In other news from the Dec. 17 meeting:
• The civic association will start a community garden project in the spring along the 6500 block of Horrocks St. side of Max Myers Playground. Seeds or starter plants will be provided. Call Max Myers at 215-685-1242 or e-mail the civic association president, Jared Solomon, at email@example.com
• Rhawnhurst Naturally Occurring Retirement Community’s first meeting of 2013 will take place on Thursday, Jan. 24, at noon, at Samuel Tabas House, at 2101 Strahle St. There will be music, dancing, a hot lunch and cake.
Rhawnhurst NORC is looking for volunteers for the Philly Snow Corps pilot project. Anyone interested in shoveling snow for senior citizens can email NORC program manager Abby Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Take Back Your Neighborhood typically meets once a month on a Monday, but will meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at Max Myers Playground, 1601 Hellerman St. The playground is closed the day before for Martin Luther King Day. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or email@example.com