There was a good turnout for last week’s Parkwood Civic Association meeting, and residents enjoyed a packed and fast-paced agenda that included information about the new Walmart opening in Franklin Mills, a local church’s push for volunteers for neighborhood projects, the Franklin Mills Advisory Council, the Parkwood Shopping Center, the city’s Planning Commission, vandalism at the Decatur School and the opening of Benjamin Rush State Park next month.
Forty-nine Parkwood residents attended the association’s May 21 session, according to Marge Philippi, the new president. Fourteen families joined the organization that night, too, she said.
First up, members of Bethel, the church at Franklin Mills, talked up their quest to sign up 900 volunteers to work on community projects like park and woods cleanups. The church started enlisting volunteers to work in the neighborhood about five years ago. Information can be found at www.fmchurch.net and clicking on SHINE at the bottom right.
Also at the May 21 meeting:
• Allan McWerthy, manager of the new Walmart at 1 Franklin Mills Blvd., said the retail supercenter store will be opened to the public on Sept. 24. He said the Phillie Phanatic will be there and “there will be tons of giveaways.” He said the store will have a bigger pharmacy as well as a vision center. And, he said, Walmart is looking to hire 300 employees. Before leaving, he left 10 $10 gift cards that were distributed through a drawing during the meeting at St. Anselm’s Church on Dunksferry Road.
• Jim Jeffries of the Franklin Mills Advisory Council told members about the formation of his group when the old Liberty Bell race track was transformed into the commercial property that became Franklin Mills. Neighborhood residents decades ago agreed to needed zoning changes on the condition that the mall’s owners provide financial support to the community. The result was the local senior center and two neighborhood gyms, he said.
Each year, the advisory council distributes $80,000 to local organizations that fit the criteria that they are in the 19154 ZIP code and serve sports and senior citizen groups. The next presentation of funds will be June 4, he said.
Philippi said three Parkwood residents are members of the advisory council and requested that they attend the civic association’s meetings.
• The Korman Corporation’s Arnold Lurie talked about the occupancy rate at the Parkwood Shopping Center, which he put at 80 percent. “It’s a tough market,” said Lurie, Korman’s director of commercial operations. “The remaining stores are large size .. and the pickings [of possible tenants] are slim.” He said the company would like to attract restaurants and possibly a dollar store. The company is not seeking to locate a tavern in the shopping center, he said.
• City Planner Kathleen Lambert told members that the Parkwood Civic Association was now a registered community organization.
RCOs, as they’re called, often examine zoning questions within their borders and make recommendations to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Lambert said she would look into complaints that construction of a new trail along the Poquessing Creek that would link Junod rec center to Benjamin Rush State Park at Southampton and the Boulevard was causing flooding in the area. John DelRicci, the association’s new vice president, added that construction debris is being illegally dumped in the woods. So-called “short dumping” has been a problem in Philadelphia for decades. Contractors, instead of paying dumping fees, load up their trucks and unload debris in any quiet, out-of-the-way spots they can find.
DelRicci said he’s seen siding and shingles dumped in the woods near the trail.
• Philippi said DelRicci has agreed to be the civic’s representative on the 8th Police District Advisory Council. The PDAC’s membership is not open to the general public. Members represent other organizations and bring neighborhood concerns to police commanders while returning to their groups with local crime statistics and news of crime-fighting strategies.
• Members of the Stephen Decatur Home and School Association reported that vandals recently sprayed obscene graffiti on the school, but that it was quickly removed from the Academy Road building. Teenage drinking remains a problem over weekends, with parents and staffers often finding beer bottles littering school property on Monday mornings.
• Philippi announced that the grand opening of the improved Benjamin Rush State Park will be at 11 a.m. on June 12 at the park’s Southampton Road and the Boulevard entrance. ••