by Brendan Sample

In response to the two dog attacks that have occurred at Pastorius Park in recent months, measures to educate residents about Philadelphia’s leash laws were at the forefront of the recent Chestnut Hill Community Association board meeting on April 20.

Representatives from Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department came to the meeting to discuss plans in place to help make Pastorius safe for everyone. In addition, the board members also discussed matters relating to the budget, incoming funds and members of the Chestnut Hill Local’s board.

Barbara McCabe, director of strategic engagement for the Parks and Recreation Department, took the lead in informing the board of how the department would be educating the public. The primary measure being taken is the distribution of educational pamphlets at Pastorius that outline Philadelphia’s leash laws. In addition, the pamphlets also contain information on dog licensing, rabies vaccination and fenced-in dog run areas where dogs are permitted to run around without a leash. McCabe also mentioned that new signs outlining the laws would be going up at each of the four entrances to Pastorius.

Ever since the first attack in October, many residents have argued in favor of greater enforcement of the leash laws in addition to education, and those arguments only grew after a second attack in February. Though the Parks Department is certainly aware of this, McCabe emphasized that the resources to carry out full enforcement are simply not available.

A small corps of rangers is authorized by the department to write citations, but it is stretched thin and cannot currently have anyone stationed at a specific location, including Pastorius. Other groups that are able to fine people, such as the Animal Care Control Team and the police, almost always have matters they must prioritize over leash citations.

Despite these limitations, the Parks Department remains hopeful that, over time, all dog owners will be respectful of the laws, which will hopefully lead to a safer environment at Pastorius. The pamphlets will also be distributed all over the city, as the department hopes to further educate park-goers well beyond Chestnut Hill. McCabe also informed the board that cleanup of the Pastorius pond is underway and still on schedule.

With the CHCA’s 2016-2017 fiscal year having come to a close in April, the board began to look ahead to the next budget. Treasurer Karl Martin confirmed that work on the 2017-2018 budget has already begun, with this budget stretching from now until July of 2018. Though the budget usually only covers 12 months, Martin said that this budget would account for the extra time and ultimately be for 15 months in total. With an adjusted net income of $31,838 and $167,280 in cash on hand, the board agreed that it was a good jumping off point for this new financial year.

Another issue that was up for the board’s consideration was the renewal and appointment of several members of the Chestnut Hill Local’s own board. While the CHCA voted to renew the terms of chair Bob Warner and returning board member Paul Davies, the group was more divided on how to fill the last vacancy on the Local’s board. While the Local had nominated Sue Beetle, the board’s treasurer and Weavers Way Co-op finance manager, for a position, this decision was met with some opposition. The CHCA ultimately wanted the Local to consider other candidates for the position, and will likely be providing its own names for consideration at the next meeting.

Aside from the budget, there were other financial matters addressed at the meeting. Board president Laura Lucas discussed further development of the CHCA Tree Planting Fund with the formation of an advisory committee. The fund came about as a result of the CHCA receiving a considerable donation from the estate of a man who had recently died. Neither the man’s name nor the amount have been disclosed as yet.

Vice President of Operations Dan Pulka also shared the results of the recent Annual Appeal, which raised nearly $56,000 for the group. Chestnut Hill Hospital also donated a separate $14,000, bringing the total amount raised to almost $70,000, though that did still fall short of the $100,000 goal.

The next CHCA Board meeting is set for May 25 at Blossom Philadelphia, 102 E. Mermaid Lane.

Brendan Sample can be reached at brendan@chestnuthilllocal.com

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