Charter school would improve Chestnut Hill

I live on Rex Avenue and attended the community meeting to consider the application of Green Woods Charter School to move to Greylock Manor. I urge everyone to give serious consideration to the proposal.

My family lives just two blocks from the Chestnut Hill Avenue entrance to Greylock Manor. I am searching for a school for my older child who is scheduled to start kindergarten this fall. I am on the Green Woods Charter wait list.

In my capacity as author and editor for, I have been documenting my school choice process and talking to school officials and parents all across the Delaware Valley along the way. The huge volume of traffic to is evidence of the struggle parents face to educate their children; I am not alone in my struggle.

The Pew Charitable Trusts released a study last June, “Philadelphia’s Changing Schools and what Parents Want From Them,” that found that parents increasingly want more options. For some parents, the struggle will force them to leave the city or make what they feel are compromises in their children’s education.

Green Woods is one of the most highly regarded elementary schools in Greater Philadelphia. They are consistently one of the top performing charter schools in the city, winning top ratings and awards. To be clear: This is not a good school that is asking to make Chestnut Hill its home. It is an exceptional school.

Like many of you, I have been dismayed by the open storefronts and stagnant housing values in our neighborhood. A top-notch school can only improve property values and attract more commercial vitality to the avenue. Green Woods, in particular, and its conservationist ideals will benefit not only the immediate neighbors, but also the environmental efforts throughout the immediate region.

It is ironic that easements are at issue because they are, in the words of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, for “caring for native wildlife and their habitats, safeguarding water quality, preserving important historic buildings and structures, and keeping open space in an ever-crowding region.” These values precisely match Green Woods’ conservationist mission.

With this common ground, surely some solution can be found that brings Green Woods Charter here and still reflects the spirit of the easements.

I too am concerned about the traffic and other issues that people are raising. But let’s let Green Woods representatives do their due diligence and try to solve these problems. In my opinion, we should not be erecting barriers to Green Woods Charter, we should be wooing them

Len Lipkin
Chestnut Hill

As a Chestnut Hill resident and parent of a young child, I know that it can be a daunting task to select just the right school that will shape his or her future. I think that the addition of the Green Woods Charter School to our neighborhood would be a great new feature.

Having such an individual, unique, and independent school in our own backyard would be a great fit to a neighborhood with such similar qualities. Having such an option for our young children would ease the burden on our local families looking for quality educational options for their children.

Victoria Sanita,
Chestnut Hill

Historical society must consider easement revisions

Given the community’s intense interest in the proposed acquisition of the Greylock mansion, on which the Chestnut Hill Historical Society holds conservation and façade easements, by the Green Woods School, I’d like to clarify two statements which appeared as part of your recent coverage of the March 15 meeting of the Development Review Committee:

In late February we were notified by the current owner that he intends to seek modifications to the easements in order to facilitate the developments proposed by the Green Woods School. However, the society has not, as yet, received such a request. We will begin our consideration of this request as soon as it is received.

The easements we hold on Greylock were generously donated to the Society, not purchased by the society. We do not own the property.

I wish to stress that the joint FOW/CHHS Easement Committee, which manages our easement program, is obligated to thoughtfully consider requests from property owners to modify easements on their land. However, in doing so it will be bound by the criteria and procedures set forth in our “Policy on Amending Conservation and Preservation Easements,” which is itself based on national standards. The general principle of this policy is that “… amendments will only be considered by CHHS if they advance or have a neutral impact on the conservation purposes of the easement.”

The society believes that easements are the most significant — and most enduring — tool to preserve the fabric of Chestnut Hill for future generations. We will promptly announce any actions taken by the Society regarding its easement program because it benefits the entire community.

Frank Niepold
President, CHHS


No justice for deer

The haughty posture evidenced by those bent on carrying out horrific crimes against deer without just cause is reprehensible. This carefully orchestrated, malicious and protracted campaign bears careful scrutiny.

The grossly deficient 1996 final deer report following the “scientific” deer study authorized by Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) was designed to blame deer. Just a formality, never peer reviewed and very limited in scope, it reveals much speculation and admits to poor knowledge.

A proper deer study would have cost substantially more than the $35,000 that FOW paid to retain Bryon P. Shissler of Natural Resource Consultants Inc. FOW chose this consultant because Shissler would bring the kind of gratification they’d been longing for, a recommendation for lethal action. Deer studies are known to push a biased agenda.

Fairmount Park’s current deer killers, the ironically named Wildlife Services (WS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) liquidates millions upon millions of so-called nuisance animals annually, mostly with tax dollars. Wildlife Services has been able to keep its macabre business going by hiding from the public. Wild Earth Guardians calls their dirty business “a growing holocaust for America’s wildlife.”

From March of 1999 through the winter of 2010, payments by the city of Philadelphia to the actual killers of the deer have surpassed half a million dollars. And, according to our city’s law department, there is no public record to account for the additional cost of providing city workers who were responsible for equipment, supplies, removal operations, driving, spotlighting, dragging deer, collecting data, baiting and assisting in other ways. Also, what has been the cost of our police aviation unit during the operation?

The Roxborough Review, March 14, 2001, quoted Mr. Bessler as saying, “This is being done in the interior of the park. We are not standing up on Henry Avenue shooting into the park.”

But Wildlife Services covertly also drives on public roads in residential neighborhoods looking for opportunities to kill deer. Ask Mr. Bessler to verify this, and ask him about the greatly reduced safety zone. It concerns your well-being. Mr. Bessler knows that I’m out watching them through the night.

Remember, no lie can live forever. Peace and justice for the deer.

Bridget Irons
Chestnut Hill


New Life for Chestnut Hill?

It seems like only 4 1/2 years ago (because that’s what is was) that my

wife, Missy, and I interviewed the dynamic Carol Schwartz of the Carol Schwartz Gallery, and her husband, Elliot, for the Local. In answer to our

question on how they felt about art gallery competition, Elliot said, “A

community is better off with more art galleries. They serve as magnets, just as restaurants do.” That comment came back and whupped me upside the head as I read about the

several restaurants newly-opened, about to open and announced in the Local in recent weeks. I thought, “Hey, why not start in Chestnut Hill what has been so successful in Old City and several Main Line communities: First Fridays on the Hill. (Almost always, these are the first Fridays of every month.)

We now have the twin – but not opposed! – magnets of more restaurants and more galleries, plus antique shops, a classic theater, bakeries, coffee bars, a live music venue (the redoubtable Mermaid) and – wowee! – free off-street parking anytime and on-street parking free every evening.

To work, this idea would need coordination and a promotion budget. This marketing should reach out to media over a 20-mile radius, not just an ad in the Local. Here in Flourtown, it would surely beat what Missy calls “the thrill of Friday nights at Dollar Tree.”

The art galleries could stay open late, say until 10. Restaurants could

offer low-cost samplers for walk-by or walk-in diners (as well as their fullmenus). Antique shops and unique stores, such as As Good As It Gets – one example among many – could keep the lights on until 10, too. If First Friday were not a show night at Stagecrafters, a hardy volunteer or two could give tours of the historic theater – or Stagecrafters could deliberately schedule one of their popular pay-what-you-will Reader’s Theater (script-in-hand) performances on First Friday, as well as at other times.

The Mermaid could have its First Friday acts start a bit earlier than usual, say 8:15.

And guess what: if this idea really took off, it might even encourage some investors to create a new life for the eerie, empty halls of the former Borders Book Store, or the awesome site that was Magarity’s.

Now, that would surely beat Friday Nights at Dollar Tree.

Richard S. Lee