Wyndmoor Montessori project will compliment neighborhood
Prior to discussing Curtis Kaller’s letter regarding the re-development of the former Montessori school building on Willow Grove Avenue, full disclosure – I am the developer of the proposed project. I am also a 25-year resident of Wyndmoor, and value what is special about this community.
While I respect Mr. Kaller’s right to appeal the decision of the Zoning Board, he is in the minority. Not only did the Zoning Board unanimously support the project; the Springfield Township Commissioners took the unusual step of testifying at the zoning variance hearing in favor of this project, which they saw would preserve and restore a piece of the township’s history. The building was originally built as a township school building in 1893.
Current zoning is for single-family houses, allowing for the demolition of the school and the new construction of four or five houses. Unlike other projects recently discussed in the Local, we are not demolishing this historic building and packing the site with new buildings. Instead, a restoration is planned, creating luxurious apartments with 14-foot ceilings, spacious floor plans and high-end finishes. We expect the building will be occupied by young professionals and empty nesters, which makes for conscientious members of the community.
Traffic and parking: the school had 92 students when it closed; traffic was estimated by a traffic engineer at 232 trips per day. The projection for the eight apartments is one-third of that number, for a reduction of 160 car trips. Off-street parking is proposed at two spaces per apartment, which is required by township code, and easily accommodates all of the residents’ cars.
1400 East Willow Grove Avenue is a wonderful example of historic architecture in our community. Our goal is to preserve a significant building, while offering a use complimentary to our neighborhood.
A nice recognition
Last week, I stopped by Randolph’s Fine Jewelry at the top of the Hill, where I ordered a new watch band. The fee was $10, and I agreed.The gentleman in charge of the counter noticed the USMC pin on my collar. He asked if I had been in the Marine Corps, and I replied, “Yes sir.” He then thanked me for my service.
When the head jeweler approached with my new watch band, he also said, “Thank you for your service. No charge.”
I happily responded with a “thank you” to both men. I’ve been out of the Marine Corps now for 58 years. Amazingly, that’s the first time I ever heard a merchant say “No charge” and “Thank you for your service” in the same sentence.
Hacking in 70s
The article on the Hackathon (Local 3/31) brought back memories of my early computer use at Leeds Jr. High and Central High School in the 1970s. Back then, we utilized a Teletype model 33 terminal, running at ten characters per second, connected to various BASIC time-sharing services. There was one terminal per school, and demand to use it was quite high.
One service was the Community Computer Corporation, based in Germantown, which used an HP-2000 system and the BASIC language. Another was the School District of Philadelphia’s own educational computer center, then located at Fifth and Luzerne streets. It used an HP-2000 for BASIC, an IBM 1130 for FORTRAN via punched-cards on site, and a Philco-Ford102 for computer-assisted-instruction.
Some of the more enterprising students managed to get computer access at the University of Pennsylvania computer center, then at 34th and Market Streets. A few even got jobs helping professors with research projects.
Many of us followed up with careers in information technology.
Yardley (formerly of Fayette St., Mt. Airy)
Who needs condos and townhomes?
“Pipers Glen will have the benefit of a private community within a very public neighborhood setting,” says the publicity touting the new townhouses and condos going up at 7048 Germantown Av. Just what we need – more condos and townhouses – starting at $450,000 and $315,000, respectively, while affordable housing needs and Section #8 units (two year waiting list) continue to get short shrift.
And just think, those who can afford such units don’t even have to write letters to the editor or demonstrate outside a politician’s office to get their housing desires met. The units just appear “like magic” by developers who want to make enough to get their beach condo at the shore. This is not particular to Germantown or Philadelphia. Housing needs for the “less-to-do” vs. the well-to-do continues to be in short supply all over the nation.
But some of those in need of affordable housing are no longer taking this quietly. In March, community activists in Oakland shut down the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Summit about “real estate opportunities” with demands, such as “Housing is Human Right! That is why we have to fight.”
This only after the city ignored a year of traditional protests for affordable housing, approving instead a luxury development overlooking a scenic lake. As one activist said, “there is a time to write letters, a time to meet, and when all else fails, time to take to the streets.”
Lawrence H. Geller