Occupy Chestnut Hill?

The proposed plans for the former Magarity location has been met with obvious dismay by the majority of residents. Most people feel that we do not need a supermarket at that site. There are several chain store markets within a few minutes drive.

In closer proximity, we have Weavers Way Co-op, Top of the Hill Market, the outdoor Saturday market near Mermaid Inn,  Trolley Car market and the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, the latter of which has had a downturn of late.

In addition, most people feel we certainly do not need more traffic on Germantown Avenue. Moreover, most residents do not want a large structure built that will take away from the beauty and architectural integrity of our area.

Like the nation, it seems that in Chestnut Hill, it does not matter what most people think The power is in the hands of a few people who have the money, influence, greed and willingness to destroy the life- style we have and the future of our community.

Cronyism or political corruption influences politicians to change zoning rules or do what is needed for the sake of profit at the expense of people. (Do the “powerful ones” care that there are so many vacant storefronts or that an appropriate merchant occupy the former Borders store?)

So far, the majority of residents have felt hopeless and helpless against the powerful few in our area..

Since this neighborhood issue represents a microcosm of the conditions which stimulated the Occupy Movement now sweeping the world, perhaps we (the 99%?) should make some cardboard signs, call the newspapers and our elected representatives, find our collective voice, and make ourselves heard.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, who was born in Philadelphia.

Marion Frank
Chestnut Hill

Fresh Market will not help Chestnut Hill

It was disappointing to read letters in last week’s Local from residents anxiously awaiting the opening of the proposed Fresh Market at the old Magarity site. The comparison with the resistance to the former Good Food Market was particularly troubling.

There is a big difference between the Good Food Market and the proposed Fresh Market.  The Good Food Market was locally owned. The proposed Fresh Market’s owners are in North Carolina, an essential point made by Glenn Bergman in his article overlooked by many of last week’s letter writers in favor of the market.

The disadvantages of stores owned by distant owners was clearly spelled out in a cover article in the Business Section of this Sunday’s New York Times about a new locally owned department store in upstate New York.

From that story: “These efforts [to create the store] flow from studies showing that, dollar for dollar, locally owned companies contribute more to local economies than corporate chains. In a recent analysis of nearly 3,000 rural and urban areas across the United States, a pair of Pennsylvania State University economists found that the areas with more small, locally owned businesses (with fewer than 100 employees) had greater per capita income growth over the period from 2000 to 2007, while the presence of larger, nonlocal firms depressed economic growth.”

As this article clearly states, the proposed Fresh Market is not likely to benefit Chestnut Hill economically.

Yes, Chestnut Hill needs development and the situation is becoming more urgent as stores close, but I am not convinced that Bowman Properties’ proposal serves Chestnut Hill’s long-term interests.

Mary Dempsey Lau
Chestnut Hill


Who made you boss?

May I ask who anointed one Mr. Michael Gonzales as the official spokesperson of the “neighbors near and far” of the controversial development at the former Magarity site, and who authorized him to make categorical statements on their behalf?

Despite having been a “near” neighbor of the said property for over 30 years I have never heard of Mr. Gonzales. Is he perhaps a “far” neighbor? Were I to pass him on the Avenue I would not know enough about him to be able to say, “Mr. Gonzales, I presume?”

When and if I choose to address the subject of this development I have sufficient artillery in my verbal arsenal to allow me to express myself without ambiguity and certainly without the help of Mr. Gonzales.

Helen M. Hayes
Chestnut Hill

Co-op opposition without precedent

Because Bowman Properties is still negotiating with the neighbors to find common ground, I am not going to express an opinion on the design of the Magarity Development.  I would, however, like to express my opinion on the Fresh Market coming to Chestnut Hill.

I have never heard of Chestnut Hill merchants opposing a new store because it duplicated another business.  The Hill is not a place where merchants sabotage a newcomer who may cut into their sales.

So why is Mr. Glenn Bergman, Manager of Weavers Way Co-op, so upset to the point of advocating preventing the Fresh Market from coming to Chestnut Hill?  Could it be that it will hurt the sales of Weavers Way?  Weavers Way cut into the sales of Jonathan’s Best and the Farmers Market, but that was okay for Mr. Bergman.

Weavers Way can lower its prices to maintain or increase sales to compete with Fresh Market.  I believe that Chestnut Hillers will be the beneficiaries of a variety of food markets and competitive pricing.

I look forward to the Fresh Market coming to Chestnut Hill.  It will not prevent me from continuing to patronize our other local food businesses.

Tolis Vardakis
Past President of CHCA


Defying the law of averages

In 1998, at the corner of Germantown and Abington Avenue, there stood a semi-boarded-up property, the site of a once well-regarded restaurant, Under the Blue Moon.

Although there have been claims by Bowman over the years that the property has been undergoing one of those famously Richard Snowden transformations, the only verifiable work was the installation of hidden cameras to protect the  red signs soliciting tenants for check-cashing / dollar store/discount. It remains unoccupied today.

In a recent Local, Joyce Lenhardt raised the little-known concept of “sunset zoning.” The new zoning rules that govern a site would revert back to their current state should the project not be constructed within a five-year period.

As my second grader would say, “2011 take away 1998 equals more than five years.”

Time and money and the cock-eyed optimism of neighbors there have been squandered in endless meetings,  negotiations, and re-negotiations and humiliating bouts of fanny kissing. The fruits of such attempts at agreement have defied the Law of Averages.

Martha Haley
Haddon Township, N.J.

Magarity site far too dense

In regard to the redevelopment of the Magarity Ford site, if one stands across Germantown Avenue from the site, it is obvious that the proposed development will be far too dense for that amount of ground.

The charming rural aspect of Shawnee Street will be totally lost with the construction of a massive row of townhouses. In regard to Hartwell Lane, all of the light and air will be taken away from the existing row of vintage townhouses.

One need only look at the newly constructed unadorned three-story wall now facing Gravers Lane – part of the Snowden “restoration” at the corner of Gravers and Germantown Ave. The proposed six-story wall on Hartwell will destroy the existing neighborhood.

Chestnut Hill does not need another food store; the proposed one will take money away from the Farmer’s Market, Drakes and Weavers Way and put it in the pocket of Snowden redevelopment.

The very center of Chestnut Hill will be vastly changed.

Michael J. McCloskey
Mt. Airy

Distressed in general

I am distressed and horrified that kiosks are going to be put in our parking lots. How am I to know how long I’ll be wandering the streets of Chestnut Hill in and out of stores – or if I linger too long I’ll get a ticket? I won’t know how to use them either! Let’s go back to the sticker system and the lovely gentlemen who sat in the huts. The kiosks will drive me away from Chestnut Hill to the malls!

Also, I am totally against the Magarity plan that Richard Snowden is proposing to develop. In a nutshell, the scale of it is too big for Chestnut Hill, and we have adequate and very good markets already. We don’t need any more.

Margaret Pearson

We don’t yet occupy city Hall

In my second campaign for Philadelphia’s 8th District council seat that just concluded with my loss, we focused on putting people back to work.

Collecting even half the $500 million dollars owed to the city in delinquent property taxes would allow us to hire more teachers for our public schools, expand afterschool programs, maintain our parks and fund our libraries.

I ran because I care and because I believe my experience as a lawyer, educator, and small businessperson would enable me to be an effective councilperson and  to carry through with the above plan. But I would not have taken the plunge were it not for the outcome of the Democratic primary in May.

In early September, at the conclusion of a back-to-school fair at Martin Luther King High School where our campaign had a table, outgoing 8th District Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller sauntered over to me and asked, “Brian, why are you running?” I told her I believed I could do a really good job.

What I didn’t say were the factors that decided my entry into the race both in 2007 and 2011- City Council/campaign staffers convicted of violating the public trust, lack of responsive to constituents, indebtedness to developers and big campaign contributors and the pernicious Democratic Party monopoly in Philadelphia.

Eighty-one percent of Philadelphia’s registered voters didn’t vote this past Tuesday and seventy-nine percent didn’t vote in the May Democratic primary. I believe that a true democracy is the means by which the public good can be best realized. I believe that the present, extreme disengagement of our populace from the democratic process damages our ability to tackle the crises of unemployment, poverty, violence, crime and environmental degradation.

To those who have shared my beliefs sufficiently to vote for me, volunteer on or contribute to my campaign, I extend my heartfelt thanks and say this: Our work continues- we occupy Philadelphia but we don’t yet occupy City Hall.

Brian Rudnick

Chestnut Hill Three cheers for Woodmere

For years I was barely aware of the Woodmere Art Museum. I rarely visited and never managed to make it to any of the concerts held there, even though it is right here in our neighborhood.

Now I’d like to alert others who may have been as oblivious as I – a new day has come. The director, Bill Valerio, is bringing wonderful new energy, and I’ve become an enthusiastic fan. So this is a commercial.

The current art exhibits, featuring outstanding local painters, are a delight for the eyes, heart and mind. The musical offerings – jazz on Friday nights, and an eclectic mix, leaning towards classical on Sunday afternoons – are equally wonderful and nourishing. They are of such fine quality I have become a regular.

On Sunday Nov. 6, the program was a trio of classical guitar, violin, and an unforgettable percussionist, doing a program of Latin and South American music that had toes tapping, heads moving, and enthusiasm abounding. All in the midst of beautiful works of art. What a treat!

If you haven’t visited or considered one of the concerts, I urge you to run, not walk to the museum. Thanks to Bill Valerio and his staff, we have a gem in our midst, absolutely worth your support.  For more information, check out its website: www.woodmereartmuseum.org.

Janet Mather
Chestnut Hill