With increased attendance and community interest, the Bridesburg Civic Association is seeking to make neighbors’ voices heard about how far local industry can go.
Two big things are currently worrying Bridesburg.
Fred Becker, vice president of the BCA, said there are a couple of issues at the forefront of Bridesburg residents’ concerns — the future of the vacant former Philadelphia Coke Factory site, between Buckius and Orthodox streets, and Winzinger Recycling, the concrete recycling plant on Hedley Street.
Regarding the Coke Factory site, Becker said that the BCA’s February meeting saw 75 concerned residents, all clamoring for answers to the Coke Factory site issues.
“Usually, we have six to seven people,” Becker said.
City Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.) introduced a bill to City Council in December 2012 to rezone the Coke property as industrial. That bill is now being held in Council due to the strong neighborhood opposition, represented in large part at last month’s BCA meeting.
Now, at the BCA’s March 7 meeting, the Winzinger concrete recycling plant had drawn residents’ ire. Winzinger’s other location in the River Wards is in Port Richmond.
With piles of concrete rubble two stories high and a recently granted variance to use a massive concrete “crusher” – despite opposition from the civic association – residents are concerned the recycling plant will add to air pollution, as well as noise and traffic problems emanating from the site.
“Environmental effects, noise level, water run-off, dust in the air, safety, proximity of noise to the houses,” BCA president Kathy Enggasser listed as residents’ concerns cited in a letter they sent to the city Zoning Board of Adjustment opposing permission for Winzinger to use the crusher. “They’re not good neighbors. They’re not going to be good neighbors in the future.”
However, the permission was granted – and now Enggasser said their only option to stop it is a costly appeal, which could cost upwards of $5,000.
They are currently searching for solutions and looking for ideas – like one resident’s suggestion that they seek a pro bono, or free, attorney.
“The crushing machine’s a monster,” said local Rich Rimkunas, 74, whose granddaughter attends school just 100 yards from where Winzinger’s open-air concrete crusher will likely operate. “Winzinger’s not going to help us.”
Dan Adair, a Garden Street resident, said that Winzinger is the current biggest problem in the area, but there’s no clear way out of the situation.
“We don’t want them going any further than they already have,” Adair said.
Winzinger manager Phil Aydellothe said plans are still up in the air and the concrete crusher may not actually go into operation. But even if it does, he said there won’t be a significant addition to local pollution.
“When we crush on Allegheny [2870 E. Allegheny St.] now, we have all our emission permits and air permits and dust control,” Aydellothe said. “There’s often dust from anything – anytime you drive out of your driveway.”
Twenty people attended last week’s Bridesburg Civic Association meeting to hear about updates on the Actual Value Initiative, Winzinger and Councilman Henon’s working group for the Coke site.
Henon’s director of community outreach, Lisa Deeley, said that at the February working group meeting for the Coke site they received creative input from the community about what they want to see on the 60-acre vacant land.
“We got an array of suggestions – from a white water rafting park to a brewery,” Deeley said.
Deeley said that Henon would not go forward with any plans for the Coke site without community approval.
Whatever happens, the Bridesburg Civic Association, which recently created a new Facebook page — search “Bridesburg Civic Association” on Facebook — will be there to keep locals informed.
Reporter Sam Newhouse can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.