by Pete Mazzaccaro

As we approach April, the Chestnut Hill Community Association is preparing to hold yet another election for its board. If you think the board could use help doing what it does or if you think it could use a new voice to steer it in a different direction, now is a good time to run.

You might wonder why anyone would run?

For one, it’s never been a better time to be an individual voice.

Available this year are eight seats, which account for roughly 40 percent of the 21 “at-large” seats on the board. Other seats on the board are held by institutional directors who come from the Morris Arboretum, Chestnut Hill Hospital, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and other neighborhood organizations. In total, the board has 27 members.

Unlike the recent past when CHCA board membership swelled beyond 50 members, the new organization is much smaller, which means that an individual has more say. Boards can often be notorious for inaction. Some accuse the CHCA of the same. Regardless, the leaner board is more efficient than it has been in a long time. It can set goals and meet them. That was not always the case, but it certainly is now.

Also, there is an opportunity for the CHCA to be more issue-oriented and address real concerns of the neighborhood.

Part of the focus of the CHCA board in recent times – a hallmark perhaps of its more efficient present state – is a focus on its mission. A good part of the focus has turned appropriately to offering a forum for residents of Chestnut Hill to be heard on important issues beyond the usual zoning variance disputes.

Recently, the CHCA has held a series of well-attended meetings on the City of Philadelphia’s Actual Value Initiative, a reworking of the property tax system that will go into effect this year.

The CHCA brought city officials to Chestnut Hill to address the issue and answer resident questions. It did the same late last year to address concerns about local crime. The CHCA convened a meeting with Town Watch members and police. It was a perfect function for the CHCA and one that should be repeated more often as large issues that face the city and region are likely to affect Chestnut Hill. It’s important to have a local venue where neighbors can get information and be heard.

There are always reasons not to join. But there are many more to have a role in an organization that can very much be a positive influence on Chestnut Hill. In fact, that venue for residents is vital. And it depends on residents to volunteer their time to ensure that it continues.

If you would like to run, you must get a nomination form, procure the signatures of four CHCA members and deliver the form to the CHCA office, 8434 Germantown Ave., this Friday, March 22. Nomination forms are available at and on page 6.

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