Bowman goes to City Hall

It appears that, without any notice from Bowman Properties to the CHCA negotiating committee, Councilperson Donna Reed Miller, on Oct. 27, introduced three bills that provide for a six-story building at 8200 Germantown Ave.

Never mind that Bowman has submitted drawings of a five-story building.  Never mind that Bowman Properties has made various vague assurances to the near neighbors regarding screening.  Never mind that the negotiating committee has been working diligently with Bowman Properties to find ways, consistent with Bowman Properties’ financial goals, to scale back Bowman’s plans so that they will fit into the neighborhood.

The new bills will permit a six-story building 70 feet tall.  They will apparently permit Bowman Properties to build without any screening from residential lot lines.  And the new bills will permit Bowman Properties to build on Shawnee Avenue a solid wall of 5-story townhouses 50 feet tall, with no setbacks or yards.

A few weeks back, the Local printed a story decrying a small group of near-neighbors for hiring an attorney.  It’s true.  We have hired an attorney and we welcome neighbors’ support.  For further information, please contact me at

Bill Coleman
Chestnut Hill


Community Bookstore dream not dead

Some weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the editor about the possibility of a local group creating a “book co-op” that would make a home in the vacant Borders building. Since then we have heard from nearly 50 Northwest Philadelphia citizens interested in exploring such an idea. We had a meeting back in October which was nicely covered in a lead article in the Chestnut Hill Local. I read the news last week that the site has been successfully leased to someone else. I hope that this proves to be beneficial to the new business as well as the community at large.

In spite of the sale,  our interest in creating some kind of publicly supported bookstore continues. We have heard from a growing number of people interested in the idea and we have dreamt of a “commons” building large enough to house not only a bookstore but perhaps a movie screening room, a coffee shop, an art supply store, AND have room for community events such as live music, book discussion groups, poetry readings, community meetings, etc. We all have a common interest in creating a site that nurtures connections in ways that are not only good for business but good for the community at large.

We are still at the dreaming stage and invite others to join us at a meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Martin in the Field at Willow Grove and St. Martin’s Lane on Wednesday November 9. To RSVP, email me at

Greg Williams
Walk a Crooked Mile Books

Excited by Fresh Market’s coming

For years now, I have spent four months in Yorktown, Va. just south of Williamsburg. There are many supermarkets in the area but the best shopping for food is at Williamsburg’s Fresh Market.

This year it outgrew its former size and opened a magnificent new store in Williamsburg. Judging from the sketches of the proposed new market in Chestnut Hill, the dimensions are pretty much the same. It is a large store with ample aisle space and is an attractive brick building, in keeping with the nearby historic edifices.

Shopping at Fresh Market is a delight, with exceptional meat and fish counters, often with tempting specials. The vegetable and fruit sections present fresh great varieties of produce and juices. The bakery area has wonderful breads, muffins, rolls and cake while the nearby cheese and dairy counters have great varieties. And the aisles of staple goods most  always have what is needed, along with spice and nut presentations. (It also offers a fantastic and affordable display of wines and beers!)

Whenever possible, I drive the 20 minutes to Williamsburg to stock up at Fresh Market. While there, I usually meet many friends also doing their shopping, for it is such an attractive place with true quality and always excellent service. It should be an exciting prospect for Chestnut Hill as a quality market, drawing shoppers and presenting a unique store with such a fine reputation which caters to its clientele and the community.

Taking such a step with a large new building in the center of the Hill would balance equally large building at the bottom and top of the Avenue, and eventually a Fresh Market with the surrounding plans would become a comfortable and sharing addition to our current interesting shops.

The foresight shown by gaining the interest of one of the few Fresh Market stores in the Philadelphia area is exciting and my hope is that it will become a reality as something special to Chestnut Hill.

Caroline Hausermann
Chestnut Hill


Kudos to College and the CHBA

The Harry Potter Weekend events were wonderful and very impressive.  All three generations of our family thoroughly enjoyed it all.

The creativity and cooperation exhibited by the steering committee and business community were above and beyond.

What fun it was to witness quidditch games, have butter beer and pastries at Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, participate in the scavenger hunt, see Dumbledore and the sorting hat in operation, take pictures with Snape, see all the witches, wizards and owls roaming around and meet all the smiling faces on the Avenue both Saturday and Sunday.

It was a wonderful showcase for Chestnut Hill.  Keep up the great work!!

Ken and Marcella Martin
Thanks for making Harry Potter weekend successful

On behalf of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all of the people who worked so diligently and creatively on our recent Harry Potter Weekend.

It was great fun to see the crowds of people enjoying our neighborhood, many of whom were visiting us for the first time.  Children and adults alike caught the spirit and exuberance of Harry Potter and friends as, for a short while, Chestnut Hill became Hogsmeade Village.

Special thanks go to Mary Kate May, a local resident who volunteered to chair the project and then spent untold hours working to make it such a success.  Without her Harry Potter expertise and her enthusiasm, the event would not have been half so successful.

Moreover, she recruited her husband, Brendan, to portray Dumbledore and his interaction with children on the Avenue was one of the highlights of the weekend.

One of the highlights for our office was the opportunity to work closely with Chestnut Hill Colleg, specifically, Kathy Spigelmyer, Lisa Mixon and Emily Schademan.  Their hard work and imagination enhanced the weekend, and their hosting of the 2nd Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Quidditch Tournament at the College was the lynchpin of the entire weekend.  In addition, students from the Mask and Foil theater troup were outstanding as Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Voldemort.

Our deepest appreciation also goes to Susan Mooers of Stagecrafters for her help and for the use of their wonderful facilities; to Paula Riley for her efforts in publicizing the weekend; to Jay Valinis for his design and printing expertise; to Eileen Reilly for stepping in to help wherever necessary, and to Carol Bates for photographing all the weekend activities.  Also, we extend a great big thank you to Katie Longstreth Morino who chaired the Harry Potter Pub Crawl which was great fun for all.

Finally, to our sponsors: We couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you to Bowman Properties; Gravers Lane Gallery; Reilly, Janiczek & McDevitt; Tavern on the Hill; Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District; McNally’s Tavern; Bruno’s Restaurant; H.D. Compton Insurance Agency; Stagecrafters Theater; Life on the Hill; Baker Street Bread Co.; Weavers Way Co-op; and the Chestnut Hill Bocce Club for their generosity and support.

To all our friends and neighbors who joined in the festivities, and to our businesses that transformed themselves into shops right off the pages of the Harry Potter books…hope you had as much fun as we did!

Peggy Miller
Peggy Hendrie
Kate O’Neill
Widen our circle of compassion

Regarding the City of Philadelphia’s raccoon abatement bill that was recently introduced into City Council (which would require killing them), I would suggest a careful and calm approach to any perceived or real conflicts. Tragically, all too many unthinking, misinformed people react in knee-jerk fashion, which is unfair.

Raccoons are intelligent, curious animals whose presence enriches our neighborhoods by providing a small connection with nature.  They have their own worth in the habitat they occupy which must be respected. Some understanding and knowledge of the animals’ way of life would help us take a humane approach to peaceful coexistence.

Sadly, there appears to be a “who cares” attitude toward urban wildlife.  Efforts must be ongoing to turn this negative attitude to a positive one for much needed change.  Humane education is all-important beginning early here and now. It’s been shown that those who are kind to animals treat people better. Albert Einstein once took us to task saying that we should widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures.

All too often animals are scapegoated when it’s the human animal who fails to take responsibility for his or her behavior. We humans can and should take steps to reduce the conflicts. Don’t feed them. Use tight-fitting garbage and trash can lids. Prevent these cans from tipping over. Put garbage/trash out the morning of your scheduled pick up day and not the night before. Don’t use plastic bags. Pet food should be outside only late in the morning or at midday, etc. Lethal control can never be justified without first applying humane techniques. It is rarely a long-term solution.

More progressive jurisdictions have encouraged understanding, patience, tolerance, kindness and compassion. Changes in human behavior and attitude, proper sanitation and education are key.

Bridget W. Irons
Chestnut Hill


Legislation is cruel to wildlife

Philadelphia City Council’s Bill # 110565 (being voted on at 10 a.m., Nov. 3) to trap “nuisance” raccoons is costly, cruel and unnecessary legislation.

The public should be aware that when animals are trapped, the following ‘vector species’ must all, by Pennsylvania law, be killed: fox, raccoon, groundhog, skunk, coyote and bats. They are gassed, shot, electrocuted, drowned, clubbed or worse. So this raccoon legislation will wipe out countless healthy wild animals, many of which keep rodent populations under control.

Their young will die slow deaths. I study the family units of these animals and am touched by their devotion to one another.

City Councilperson Donna Reed Miller, whose district includes Chestnut Hill in the heart of Fairmount Park, said she doesn’t want to live with wildlife. “I don’t like those raccoons,” she said. “I think they look terrible when you see them running down the street with their backs all hunched.”

I thought about the irony of her prejudice, wondering how people shaped differently would feel if she said that about them, and testified that perhaps diversity training should include tolerance for wildlife.

The fear of rabies is grossly over-reported and sensationalized by the press. Other than one human death in 1984 in Danville, Pa., there is not one such documented death in Pennsylvania since 1949.

There are already state laws that deal with diseased raccoons. This proposed legislation will result in the death of thousands of innocent, healthy animals just trying, like us, to survive.

Wouldn’t Philadelphians be better off teaching an appreciation of wildlife, as opposed to its cruel extermination?

Christina Kobland
Lafayette Hill