Residents help plan Central Northeast Philly's future

DAN GERINGER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Sue Feola (right) and Lorraine Brill talk at last night's meeting.
DAN GERINGER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Sue Feola (right) and Lorraine Brill talk at last night's meeting.
Posted: December 05, 2013

SUE FEOLA pointed to Oxford Avenue near Rhawn Street on a detailed map of Fox Chase and told City Planner Matt Wysong, "My hairdresser's right here, and it's very difficult to get to because there's no public parking.

"It's nice to drive there and walk along the street to the meat market and the restaurants," she continued, "but there's only a little parking along the street, and on Saturday night, forget it."

Wysong listened intently and noted Feola's concerns on a big pad next to the Fox Chase map.

It was just the kind of thing that Wysong and his City Planning Commission colleagues wanted to hear as they conducted one-on-one sessions with residents at Northeast High School last night.

No problem was too big or too small as the public critiqued long-range plans for Philadelphia's Central Northeast District.

Feola was happy to see that a public parking garage is part of the Planning Commission's plan for re-envisioning Fox Chase Center along Oxford Avenue and Rhawn Street as an accessible, pedestrian-friendly village-in-the-city.

Feola also wants the empty storefronts at Castor and Cottman avenues, including the huge former Clover store, to become thriving businesses again.

Feola and her fellow residents had a lot to say about improving Five Points (Oxford, Rising Sun and Cottman avenues), including, "More mixed use - bring more residents to improve safety and add life," and "traffic at Five Points, i.e. the Rising Sun to Oxford transition, is horrible!"

State Rep. Kevin Boyle, who lives in Fox Chase and represents much of the Central Northeast featured on the planning boards last night, said that from a Northeast Philadelphia perspective, a lot of neighborhood development since the Mayor Ed Rendell era has been in and around Center City.

"The Northeast wants to be part of that," he said, looking approvingly at the maps and plans for streetscaping, pedestrian walkways and mixed-use development around him.

"Young suburbanites might move into the city if we can create a sense of community," he said.

"A lot of Northeast Philadelphia development happened during the post-World War II days, following the Levittown mindset," he added. "If we can change that, people my age, 33, and younger, who want that sense of community with restaurants and shops and good public transit, would find Northeast Philadelphia a nice place to live."

After processing all the community input at the last of three public meetings on the Central Northeast District plan, the City Planning Commission will come up with a final plan this winter.

This plan is part of Philadelphia2035, the commission's first citywide blueprint for physical development since 1960.


On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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