More commentary on the Jenks ramp

I am writing to you regarding the article “Jenks administration, Ardleigh neighbors continue to clash over ramp”  by Brendan Sample (Local, Oct. 11).

I reside on Ardleigh street, right next to Jenks’ back step entrance, with my husband and four small children. I don’t know why, when Mr. Sample was writing this article,  he didn’t think it was important to gather the input and experiences from the Ardleigh street residents who deal with the ramp on a daily basis.

Back in October 2015, Ardleigh Street residents and members of the Chestnut Hill Business Association met with Ms. Lynskey regarding concerns with school drop-off/pickup on Ardleigh street, to which Ms. Lynskey was nonchalant and explained to all of us that she accepts students from any Philadelphia neighborhood with her goal to maintain school enrollment numbers. She also did not care about the disrespectful and ignorant parents who were blocking Ardleigh Street and pulling into residents’ driveways to drop off their kids at her school. Ms. Lynskey’s response was for the residents to call 911. This is not a person who cares about residents or the Chestnut Hill community.

The $400,000 ramp was zoned and approved as a school delivery ramp, not a parking lot, and not even an emergency access ramp. This was emphasized multiple times by Ms. Lynskey and the school board officials since this first became an issue. Since the completion of the ramp, I have only seen one truck go up that ramp, and that was over this past summer. This truck had a lot of difficulty leaving because the driver could not make the turn from the ramp onto the street because of cars parked across the street from the ramp entrance. I guess the school board and its architects failed to consider all those factors during the design phase. Since then, the ramp has been almost a “dead zone” until Ms. Lynskey recently granted two teachers “permission” to park for medical reasons.

Why is this necessary? There is plenty of street parking, and the community has even been generous with the street parking times, allowing teachers to park for the entire school day without having to pay or risk being ticketed. So the idea that the ramp is now needed for teachers to park is a bunch of nonsense and also illegal based on the present zoning codes.

Allowing cars to enter and exit the ramp raises serious safety concerns. The ramp is not designed for two-way traffic, nor is there a safe view of the sidewalk and traffic when exiting. Pedestrians, including a lot of families with babies in strollers, frequently walk on the sidewalks, so this is a huge safety concern.

Mr. Sample’s article was disrespectful to the Ardleigh street residents, and I truly hope that the Local better consider its position when writing about the Jenks ramp in the future. My husband and I have lived in Chestnut Hill for the last 13 years; My husband personally retained and referred two sponsors for the Harry Potter Festival all on his own. The entire Chestnut Hill community is built on the support and dedication of its residents, and it’s of the utmost importance that our needs and positions are considered and respected on an ongoing basis.

Amanda Kaminis, BSN, RN
Chestnut Hill

 

In last week’s Local article regarding the ramp and parking at Jenks, Principal Lynskey was given ample voice to say that any concerns we had were due to a “predetermined and unfair evaluation of the school.”

Omitted from the article was an accurate account of the concerns raised at the LUPZ meeting and any quotes from neighbors. In that meeting, the neighbors had not raised any concern about parked cars blocking deliveries – this has never been an issue.

At issue was Principal Lynskey allowing up to five cars to park on the schoolyard at a time, contrary to zoning prohibition and the school district’s statement that “upon completion of the project, parking will still be prohibited on the Jenks property,” (Letter from the PSD to Laura Lucas on July 5, 2016, emphasis in the original text).

Our most grave concern however, and the one that occupied us for most of the meeting as we discussed possible solutions, was the serious safety hazard caused by a poorly managed student pickup and drop-off process. The administration has failed to prevent unauthorized use of the ramp by leaving the gate open, which has contributed to a chaos of car and pedestrian traffic, and I cringe when I watch it because I worry I’ll see a student get struck by a car.

Principal Lynskey’s thesis that the neighbors selfishly don’t care about the school is demonstrably false. For my part, I have spent hundreds of volunteer hours developing the Jenks food garden program, designing, building and meticulously maintaining the raised beds, and holding weekly after-school club meetings. Others on our block have a history of cooperative engagement with the school as well, including the most proactive member of our Ardleigh Street cohort, whose kids attended the school.   ·

Chris Mattingly
Chestnut Hill

 

I am writing to you regarding the article “Jenks administration, Ardleigh neighbors continue to clash over ramp” by Brendan Sample in the Oct. 11 Local.

The article raised several questions for me that I hope can be addressed in a more fair and balanced way in the Chestnut Hill Local.

It was concerning to see that no neighbors were quoted in the article. I do not know if Mr. Sample spoke with any of our neighbors and did not include their perspective, or if we were again ignored. Why was the article so one-sided?

The school and the PSD agreed that the ramp would be used only for deliveries, not for parking or any other purpose. How can a principal unilaterally overturn such an agreement?

The article quotes Ms. Lynskey as saying that she has allowed two faculty members to park on the ramp for medical reasons, but the photograph accompanying the article shows three vehicles, which is consistent with what I have seen in the past. How did three become two? Further, if these faculty members are unable to walk a block or two to the school, how are they able to stay on their feet all day and teach the delightfully, energetic and active children in their care?

I have seen the ramp used by parents to drop off and pick up their children at the play yard. The ramp is too small for two cars to navigate safely, and this creates dangerous traffic tie-ups on Ardleigh Street. Who approved this misuse of the ramp?

I was told that the ramp cost is in excess of $400,000. PSD is a financially challenged school district. This ramp is a luxury at best, and as a taxpayer I would like to see an in-depth explanation of this seeming waste of our school taxes. How did this happen?

The article quotes Ms. Lynskey as being “interested in the possibility of helping to clear up Chestnut Hill parking.” I applaud her sentiments here. As the principal of a school dedicated to STEM, I am sure she is aware of the growing environmental concerns surrounding emissions from internal combustion engines. Chestnut Hill is blessed with an abundance of easily accessible public transportation, from two SEPTA train lines and multiple bus routes.

I would expect someone in her position to encourage and facilitate public transportation use, especially among the faculty, rather than continuing to contribute to the problem by creating more reasons for people to drive private vehicles. Increased public transportation use will help solve environmental problems, as well as clear up parking. Where is the leadership here?

Finally, the issue here is not about allowing two (three?) teachers to park in an area not zoned for parking and counter to an agreement reached with the neighborhood. The issue is about honesty, transparency, accountability, stewardship and leadership. I hope these larger and more important issues can be addressed.

Donald A. Hantula
Chestnut Hill

 

In the Oct. 12  Local article about parking at Jenks you presented a very one-sided take on the situation. You never spoke to any of the neighbors. You ignored the facts, and you totally ignored an important objection to the construction of the ramp, the expenditure of funds for something that benefits the teachers and the CHBA, more than it does the students.  You instead gave the principal a platform to air grievances and voice misstatements.

When we learned of the secret plans to build the ramp, we were explicitly informed that our input was not wanted. We do not consider that to be community outreach.

The plans showed that the PSD and the school misrepresented the stated purpose of the ramp. They maintained it is for deliveries and emergency access. It is inadequate for both. It doesn’t meet the code requirements for an emergency ramp, nor have delivery trucks been able to negotiate the turn radius. On three or more occasions since school started, trucks were unable to make the turn and parked the truck in the traffic lane of Ardleigh St. creating an unsafe condition.

The neighbors, as well as the LUPZ spent many hours in meetings negotiating with the PSD and the school about the construction of the ramp, during which we were repeatedly assured that the ramp would not be used as access for parking. We have a signed agreement reached between the neighbors, the PSD and the CHCA that there would not be parking on the play yard. You have never reported that.

Other conditions for the use of the ramp are not being followed, creating unsafe conditions for the children and pedestrians on the sidewalk.  This presents liability issues for the PSD that perhaps it didn’t consider.

The school has unilaterally decided to violate that agreement and flaunt the L&I rules and regulations governing a parking lot on a residential street. We are asking that they be good members of the community and abide by the agreements they made with the neighbors.

Judy Muenzberg
Chestnut Hill

 

Mental health efforts will not   prevent another Las Vegas

As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I understand the emphasis on finding a motive which has followed the mass shooting in Las Vegas, just as it has followed every mass shooting over the past many years.

Coming up with a motive, an explanation, can help us feel more in control, making the event less random, and potentially even pointing towards some means of prevention.

At the same time, I am firmly convinced that we will never come up with any clearly understandable motive for actions like these. Stephen Paddock fired his weapons with intent to kill into a crowd of people who he did not know and with whom he had no connection. What possible rational explanation can there be for such an action?

I realize that nothing has been discovered, but even if it had turned out that he had, for example, just lost a lot of money gambling in Las Vegas or, alternatively, had a fight with his girlfriend, or even been diagnosed with a terminal illness, would this provide a motive to kill perhaps hundreds of people? Remember, he did not know them. He had no connection with them (and they did not even represent any organized group).

I know that no history of psychiatric difficulties or treatment has been discovered in this case, and also that his planning for this horrendous action was methodical and organized. But I am convinced that no change in mental health laws or treatment would make any difference in this case (or in the shootings at Virginia Tech, in Newtown, in Orlando, etc) because these shooters do not see themselves as needing treatment. For them, the problem is, in some unfathomable way, the Other, who then becomes their target.

None the less, this man was clearly functionally, if unpredictably, psychotic when he began to fire on the crowd below him. He was no longer living in the reality that the rest of us inhabit. I know I cannot imagine, and I assume those reading this letter also cannot imagine, ever taking an action designed to snuff out the life of one person, let alone the lives of many people, with whom I had absolutely no connection.

So the only hope we have for making tragedies like this one less likely lies in stricter gun control, making both bump stocks and any assault weapons illegal, and doing all that we can to get all such weapons off of the street. I realize this is not so likely given the power of the NRA and the fear that our politicians show in their reluctance to stand up for more sane gun control, but if this does not happen, here is all that we are left with: the hope that neither we, nor anyone we care about, is in the wrong place at the wrong time when the next such mass shooting occurs.

Marc R. Inver, MD
Lafayette Hill

 

Looking for leaf solutions

It’s leaf time again in northwest Philly, and I’m wishing to not again suffer the heartache of seeing multiple bags of leaves on the curb bound for landfills. That’s where most of our leaves go, whether in brown bags or plastic.

The City of Philadelphia has a very limited program of pick up of leaves to be composted – one day per year!  The past two years, trucks failed to come by for pickup as scheduled on my 7400 block of Boyer Street. I bet other blocks experienced the same. Can’t we as neighbors create a local and low-cost solution?

For years I’ve kept and composted all my yard leaves. I’ve even picked up neighbors’ leaf bags to add to my treasure. Yes, fallen leaves are a treasure that, when composted, have enriched my soil and reduced my yard-care costs.

However, now with so many new trees on my property, I’m overwhelmed with the volume, so I’m seeking a place nearby to bring leaves for composting.

I believe those places are just waiting to be found.  Potential benefits to site owners include enrichment of their soil, and financial enrichment.

What’s needed are properties –  whether home or business or organization  where’s there’s a little free space.   It could be a back or side yard.  The resultant compost could be available for that property’s use or sale, or free to neighbors.   A modest compensation via individual donations or a grant to the site owner could provide incentive. I’m prepared to start a fund for 7400-7500 Boyer Street neighbors.   Would you work with me on this?

I welcome a conversation. Another good option to composting is to ”just let leaves stay where they fall.” See http://blog.nwf.org/2014/11/what-to-do-with-fallen-leaves/

Bagging them for landfill is not a good option. (Why?: The methane produced, the transport costs, the taxpayer burden, the depletion of our soils.

We love our trees.  Wouldn’t we love their fallen leaves more if we could dispose of them easily and responsibly?

Lynn Mather
Mt. Airy

 

...