Proud of neighbors’ efforts


I am so proud to live in a community where neighbors like the North Chestnut Hill Neighbors and Chestnut Hill Landmarks Committee have gone out on a limb to protect and preserve what is so beloved about Chestnut Hill.

If not for these concerned neighbor groups, which have each spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours, we would not learn of the impending attempts to thwart carefully crafted easements/deed restrictions put in place to preserve historic architecture and open space by Green Woods Charter School and Chestnut Hill College.

Until I attended the excellent meeting hosted by  NCHN last Monday, I was neutral about the college’s intentions to expand the Sugarloaf campus. I left the meeting aghast at its “bait and switch” tactics to win neighbor approval and build what will ultimately be almost twice the size of Chestnut Hill Hospital.

With Chestnut Hill politics known more for its histrionics, nastiness and negativity, these two neighbor groups have purported themselves with integrity, restraint,  continual willingness to negotiate and great intelligence.  They are NOT saying, “Don’t come.” Instead, they are saying, “Please come, but respect the structures put in place to prevent the kind of development that will destroy the character of our unique community.”  Hardly unreasonable.

By changing the zoning of Sugarloaf from R-1 (residential) to an IDD designation, should the college ever sell this property, we could easily end up with a Walmart or hundreds of apartments at that corner.

So thank you, thank you, thank you George, Susan, Stacy, Bob and Heidi, James, Brad, Linda, Ulrich, Chris and Lynn.  If Chestnut Hill is preserved for yet another 100 years, it will be because of the activism of caring neighbors like you

Jeanne Andrews
Chestnut Hill


The front page article in last week’s Chestnut Hill Local (May 5, 2011) regarding the expansion plans of Chestnut Hill College and community concerns about those plans is misleading in that it implies that only one or two near neighbors are the obstacle to reaching a Community Development Agreement. That is not the case.

At the hearing before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, at which Chestnut Hill  College presented its Master Plan, a number of groups, in addition to the near neighbors, spoke in opposition to the plan as presented: the Friends of the Wissahickon, the Northwest Wissahickon Conservancy, the North Chestnut Hill Neighbors Inc. and the Negotiating Group of the Chestnut Hill Community Association.

Peter Mazzaccaro’s editorial in the same issue of the Local states that there was a “press blackout” on the subject of the negotiations with the college over the last 18 months. There was indeed a blackout on the matter, not only for the Local. The CHCA board has been give” absolutely no information, only vague comments and insinuations by the CHCA president.

The statement by Sister Carol Jean Vale that she thought there was verbal agreement on the Master Plan by the negotiating group is not credible. That this plan was presented by the college to the City Planning Commission as part of a request for rezoning for an Institutional Development District without first having presented it to the community is outrageous!

It is important that we know what this plan entails. A meeting being held on May 16 at St. Paul’s Church in Chestnut Hill will help us to understand its potential impact on our community, on Fairmount Park, on the environment, wildlife and on our city.

These are all, in fact “near neighbors.” All are important!

Ann Ward Spaeth
Chestnut Hill

Endorsing Verna Tyner for council

Candidates who come before the 9th Ward Democratic Committee must survive a gauntlet of questions from a politically savvy group.

The ward abounds in lawyers, social activists and political junkies. Its vetting process is renowned and the prize is rich, as the ward turns out a lot of voters. Candidates with connections or money don’t always win the ward’s endorsement.

Independence, promise, a strong work ethic and a desire to occupy the sought-after position sometimes trump connections to the establishment. That’s why Barack Obama was endorsed – and that’s why Verna Tyner was overwhelmingly endorsed.

Verna connected to even the hard-boiled cynics in the ward.  She is a genuine, experienced, courageous, self-made representative of the people and both an enthusiastic talker and more importantly, a good listener.  She deserves to be our new 8th District Councilperson.

Marilyn Monaco
9th Ward


As a long time resident, investor and business owner in Germantown and Mt. Airy, I urge you to vote for Verna Tyner to be our next City Councilperson.

While Verna does not have access to big campaign contributions nor high profile endorsements from outside the district, she does have a plan to bring our district together in a positive, transparent way that has not been seen in northwest Philly in many years.

Verna will put our neighborhoods first and be a tireless advocate for the needs of our community. She has demonstrated this ability countless times in her Tioga/Nicetown neighborhood and through her work as chief of staff to two of the best constituent service Council members ever, David Cohen and Bill Greenlee.

I believe Verna will be an open and accountable leader for our entire district.  She was the first 8th District candidate to vow not to support anyone in the DROP program for City Council President, and she has pledged to serve only two terms in City Council. With Verna, there will be no more “Councilperson for life.”

I have met several times with Verna and all of the other major candidates for this City Council seat.  After careful consideration, I have endorsed Verna because she will restore our faith in local government by making sure residents, business owners and other stakeholders are at the table when decisions are being made.

I feel strongly that Verna knows how to improve our business districts, taking the successes we have seen in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy into Germantown, Tioga and Oak Lane. She knows how to work hard and will take good ideas and get them done.

The diversity of her supporters is a direct reflection of the diversity of the district she wants to represent – a testament to Verna’s ability to seek consensus and build unity.

I hope you will join me in casting your vote for Verna Tyner for City Council – 8th District next Tuesday, May 17.

Ken Weinstein
Mt. Airy

Why Verna Tyner should represent us in City Council.

At first glance it seems complicated: seven candidates, each with a unique set of strengths and limitations. We have been bombarded with slick advertisements, flyers, and phone calls. They come to us with, “What are your needs/ problems?” or “Here’s what I can do for you that no one else can.”

On closer examination, one exception emerges – Verna Tyner.

She comes asking, “What is unique about your community, what are your assets and how may I help you so that together we can move forward and improve the quality of life here?”

Verna has clearly demonstrated her ability to organize a community to speak for itself, seek assistance when needed, and make improvements. Addressing constituent services means pinpointing the issue(s), exploring all possible solutions, taking action and doing it with integrity and independence.

She has gained this leadership experience, over the last 16 years, as chief of staff for both Councilman David Cohen and Councilman Bill Greenlee. This leads me to the question of the value of endorsements.  Not all endorsements are created equal; some come with strings attached, and we need to examine those as well as the stated qualifications of the candidate. In the end the most important endorsement is that of a well-informed voter.

A vote for Verna Tyner is a vote for someone who understands the complexities of a very diverse district, the strengths as well as needs of each segment and the ability to bring the entire district together.

Marilyn Lambert
Mt. Airy

Bass best for the 8th District

We are 9th Ward Committeepersons who are proud to join with Mayor Nutter, District Attorney Williams, the Philadelphia Inquirer and numerous organizations, such as the Fraternal Order of Police, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Liberty City Democratic Club and the National Organization for Women in wholeheartedly supporting Cindy Bass for Councilperson of the 8th District. (For all her endorsements see

Cindy came just shy of beating Donna Miller in 2007. With Miller’s retirement we are pleased that Cindy decided to run again because she has the most comprehensive skill-set, spanning the federal, state, nonprofit and private sectors.  A senior advisor to Congressman Fattah for the past nine years, Cindy’s work has positively impacted the neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy.

When Cresheim Valley Drive underwent severe flooding and state and local proposals were to merely patch it up, Cindy worked to create permanent infrastructure repairs.  Cindy was critical to the progress of the Mt. Airy StreetScape project as well the development of Phebe Commons (6701-17 Germantown Ave).  Cindy also worked for former State Senator (now Congresswoman) Allyson Schwartz, was the first employee of Mt. Airy USA and a loan officer for Chestnut Hill National Bank.

A civic and community activist, she has devoted her non-paid work time to public service as president of East Mt. Airy Neighbors and serving on numerous boards, such as the Metropolitan Career Center and the Philadelphia Chapter of NOW. Cindy was the founder of the Northwest Fund, which supports community-based initiatives for crime prevention.

For all these reasons, and many more, we encourage voters in the 8th Council District to choose Cindy Bass as their next councilwoman.  With Cindy at the helm, the neighborhoods of the 8th District will be well served and well represented.

Chris Rabb, Dan Muroff, Nina Ahmad, Karen Bojar, Tiffany Palmer, Lisa Holgash, Shoshana Bricklin, Jim Bruno, Nelson Diaz

Vote for Kromer and Toy

It is time for new leadership in Philadelphia in City Council and in the Sheriff’s office! One candidate running for an at-large seat in City Council, Andy Toy, particularly deserves your vote in the May 17 primary.

Andy and I have worked together on issues concerning the built environment for over a decade. As an individual I have found Andy to be responsive, intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive, and sensible. He brings a unique “tool kit” to the job with skills to promote economic growth and job development.

Andy Toy’s range of abilities and in-the-trenches successes are unmatched by anyone in City Council today. In his past non-profit and government positions, Andy has dealt with brownfields, commercial corridor revitalization and neighborhood business development. He understands what needs to be done in Philadelphia and how to make it happen. With a proven ability to build partnerships and coalitions, Andy Toy is a candidate who will serve all of the people of Philadelphia well.

Running to be Philadelphia’s last sheriff, John Kromer wants to reform the operation of that office and transfer its duties to other, more appropriate city government departments. I came to know John and his capabilities well when I studied with him at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. His depth of knowledge, breadth of practical experience and expertise are just what is needed to bring the sheriff’s office under control.

Did you know that the sheriff’s office currently has misplaced $53 million?  John Kromer can fix it, and when he does, he will end the sheriff as an elected position. How refreshing – a candidate who does not want to establish a fiefdom!

Betsy Masters
Chestnut Hill

Ken Goldenberg piece was spot on

Lou Mancinelli’s article in this week’s Local brought back a memory of Ken Goldenberg’s generosity and The Goldenberg Group’s commitment to public service.

The Green Tree School is housed in a spectacular 100-year-old Victorian home on West Walnut Lane. One of the rooms is devoted to our library, and two years ago it was rather run-down with several books that were outdated and some unusable furniture.

Ken Goldenberg contacted us to see if we could use some help, and we readily said “yes.”  Approximately 15 members of his staff came to Green Tree for the entire day, and cleaned the room, disposed of unwanted books and furniture, washed the windows (yes, I said washed the windows) and painted the walls with characters and objects of interest to our children.

This was a gift that has lasted, and a community service that should be a model for other area businesses.

The article was well done and depicted the good work a person can do if he/she has a vision and purpose.

Herman Axelrod, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Green Tree School
Thanks from Green Woods parents

On behalf of the entire Green Woods Charter School community, we want to thank the many Hill businesses and the hundreds of people who have expressed to us their best wishes and support for our school’s proposed move to Greylock manor.

We have so far collected over 600 signatures showing support!   The response from you all has been overwhelming and just another example of why Chestnut Hill is one of the greatest neighborhoods in the country.

We will continue our efforts to get information and facts out to the community as the school continues its efforts to gain the approval for the move from the various neighborhood organizations. As parents of Green Woods students and Chestnut Hill residents, we cannot express enough our deep appreciation and thanks for all of your support.
Karen Aves and Meg Flores
on behalf of the Chestnut Hill GWCS parents

Fresh Market
is no ‘threat’

This is in response to Brian Powell’s letter concerning the “threat” of the Fresh Market.

I appreciate and understand his concerns, but here’s what I’m going to do.

I’ll continue to shop at the Farmer’s Market for French cut steaks, turkey burgers, bagels, breakfast ham and produce, and enjoy those great “samples” on a Saturday morning.

I will, as I do now, patronize Weaver’s Way for milk and grocery staples. (Hey. I’m a member.) I‘ll shop at Top of the Hill for fresh seafood and terrific Jersey tomatoes. And the Cheese Shop? C’mon. You can’t walk by that place without stopping.

And as soon as I finish this, I’ll head up to Metropolitan for a loaf of sourdough, stop for some ginger at Penzeys and then pick up a cup of coffee at Chestnut Hill Coffee. Or better yet, maybe a cold, wet one at McNally’s.

So, I welcome the Fresh Market to the neighborhood, and I look forward to what it has to offer, but I’m sure as hell not going to forget or neglect the stores and the people who were one of the reasons we moved here in the first place.

That’s what I’m going to do. And I think there are a lot of other neighbors who will do exactly the same.

Tom Hemphill
Chestnut Hill

A SEPTA irony

Last Friday while catching a train at the Highland Station, I met a delightful older gentleman who was cutting the grass with a hand mower. He explained how SEPTA didn’t have funds to cut the grass, so he did it. A few steps later I passed a young man spraying pesticides on the stairs and elsewhere. He said he was subcontracted by SEPTA. Being totally opposed to pesticides, I regret that SEPTA can find money to use for poisons but not to cut grass.

Sandra Folzer

Laziness a factor
in loss of strength

After reading Peter McAllister’s book “Manthropology,” I learned that the human race has become significantly inferior to the strength of our ancestors. Although our civilization is growing every day, and men and women are getting stronger with new inventions that are built to strengthen the physical stature of our race, in the end we are nothing close to the strength of our ancestors. Our race, has fallen captive forever to one reoccurring factor – laziness.

Laziness is the reason for the decrease in strength and capability to grow and evolve from what we used to be. Our society has focused on evolving our arsenals of weaponry and the technology of communication and electronics, but did it ever consider the intensity that was already present with that of our ancestral relatives. They didn’t have the advancements that we did, making them more dependent on themselves, to live and thrive as a culture.

Although these advancements seem to have helped our race, in actuality they have only hindered us from reaching our maximum potential as a flourishing empire. With these advancements in technology, we have become more dependent on inventions to improve our strength, instead of the lack of technology that our ancestors had.

If we spend more time utilizing the environment to our physical enhancement, such as climbing mountains, hiking or running, our race may gain the characteristics that our ancestors possessed. In the end, we are nothing compared to our ancestors when laziness interferes with our evolution.

Chip Wohlstetter
Bath, Maine