Somerton Civic president to step down from post

Dolores Bar­bieri had large shoes to fill when she be­came pres­id­ent of the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation. Some would say those shoes were enorm­ous.

After hav­ing served dec­ades as vice pres­id­ent of the group, Bar­bieri as­sumed the pres­id­ency fol­low­ing the Novem­ber 2009 death of Mary Jane Hazell, the long­time pub­lic face and mo­tiv­a­tion­al lead­er of the SCA.

Dur­ing Bar­bieri’s ten­ure, the civic group main­tained its dogged poli­cing of loc­al de­vel­op­ment pro­jects and zon­ing cases while cre­at­ing an an­nu­al com­munity fest­iv­al that pays trib­ute to the na­tion’s vet­er­ans and the city’s first re­spon­ders. On May 13, Bar­bieri an­nounced to the group that she has de­cided to pass the reins to someone else. She will not seek re-elec­tion to an­oth­er two-year term on the SCA board.

The or­gan­iz­a­tion will elect a new slate of of­ficers dur­ing its next gen­er­al meet­ing on June 10 at Walk­er Lodge 306, 1290 Southamp­ton Road. The pub­lic is wel­come, but only dues-pay­ing mem­bers are al­lowed to vote. Sit­ting zon­ing chair­man Seth Ka­plan is the lone nom­in­ee for pres­id­ent, while oth­er nom­in­ees in­clude Lou De­Cree for vice pres­id­ent, Mary Jane Roberts for re­cord­ing sec­ret­ary, Pat Can­t­well for treas­urer and Nat­alie Sher­man for mem­ber­ship chair­wo­man. There are no nom­in­ees for zon­ing chair­man, al­though Bar­bieri said she may help with that un­til a per­man­ent re­place­ment can be found.

“I want to thank every­one for com­ing every month, sup­port­ing the or­gan­iz­a­tion and your in­terest in the com­munity,” Bar­bieri said. “There’s so much go­ing on.”

Bar­bieri ad­ded that she has been do­ing vo­lun­teer work with the SCA and oth­er or­gan­iz­a­tions for a long time, so she’s ready “to take a rest and en­joy oth­er things.”

“I’m not resign­ing. I was told by the board that I’m re­tir­ing. So I ex­pect my gold watch and my pen­sion,” Bar­bieri joked.

Earli­er in the meet­ing, the civic as­so­ci­ation voted on one zon­ing is­sue. Wil­li­am Loes­che Ele­ment­ary School seeks a zon­ing vari­ance to erect a free-stand­ing di­git­al sign in front of the build­ing along­side Bustleton Av­en­ue. The De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tion re­fused to is­sue the school a per­mit on the basis of three factors. The face of the sign would be lar­ger than the code al­lows; it would stand taller than the code al­lows; and would be po­si­tioned closer to the street than the code al­lows.

The di­git­al or “an­im­ated” sign would be double sided, meas­ur­ing four feet by eight feet on each side for a total of 64 square feet of dis­play space. The code al­lows for only 15 square feet.

Moun­ted on a pole, the sign would rise 7-1/2 feet above the ground, where­as the code calls for a max­im­um height of sev­en feet. Fur­ther, the sign would be po­si­tioned five feet from the curb, but the code calls for a min­im­um of 25 feet.

Loes­che Prin­cip­al Vic­tor­ia Velasquez said that stu­dents spent two years rais­ing $17,000 for the sign as a trib­ute to a be­loved teach­er who passed away. Stu­dents held dress-down days, candle sales, bingo games and oth­er fun­draisers. They did it “one dol­lar at a time,” the prin­cip­al said.

Velasquez said that when she asked City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill to en­dorse the pro­ject, he re­ques­ted that the school not use the di­git­al sign to pro­mote for-profit busi­nesses, that the school al­low the com­munity to sub­mit mes­sages for the sign and that the school not ro­tate the di­git­al mes­sages too rap­idly.

As part of a per­suas­ive writ­ing les­son, stu­dents au­thored let­ters ad­voc­at­ing for the sign and sub­mit­ted them to the civic as­so­ci­ation. SCA mem­bers ap­proved the sign un­an­im­ously. A Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment hear­ing is pending. ••

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