by Brendan Sample

In its last meeting at Blossom Philadelphia, the Chestnut Hill Community Association board of Directors gathered to discuss updates on upcoming events, zoning issues, the search for a new publisher for the Local and other community matters.

The meeting began with board president Laura Lucas outlining a series of renewed focuses for the CHCA that had been previously discussed at a recent executive committee meeting. With about two-thirds of the Board present, Lucas highlighted fiscal health, zoning, membership and branding, the Local and green space as specific points that she wanted the CHCA to focus on in the upcoming year.

Executive Director Anne McNiff offered an update on the Streetscape Committee, as it will be getting reshaped after receiving input from the Development Review Committee. McNiff will be a co-chair of the Committee along with Philip Dawson and Lori Salganicoff, executive Directors of the Chestnut Hill Business district and Chestnut Hill Conservancy, respectively. They will be looking to further shape urban development in the area, which will also involve bringing in residents who are new to the region and have expressed an interest in urban development.

McNiff also informed the board that due to wet conditions in the Town Hall building’s basement, many of the files stored in the building will need to be digitized in order to save the information. She has already begun a project to create digital scans of hard files, after which the physical copies can be properly disposed. Richard Snowden also suggested formally asking the building’s landlord to fix the basement, which led to a formal motion that successfully passed.

With the annual Black and White Gala coming up on Oct. 6, the board is encouraging anyone interested in the event to buy their tickets in preparation for Saturday. The Gala will also kick off a wave of major events over the course of the rest of the year, including Witches and Wizards weekend, Circle of Trees, the Holiday House Tour and Holiday Parade. The CHCA is still looking for both houses and sponsors for the Holiday House Tour, as members were encouraged to reach out with any suggestions for either.

In the physical division, Larry McEwen confirmed that the CHCA, CHBD and Conservancy all submitted their recommendations on the Upper Northwest District Plan to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on Sept. 21. Though they met the deadline for public comments, they are still waiting on word for when the final plan will be released and submitted to City Council. McEwen also brought up the special exception proposal for an escape room on the second floor of the VFW building on 8217 Germantown Ave., along with moving the VFW meeting room to the basement of the same building. With prior approval from both the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee and DRC, the CHCA voted to approve a motion to further approve the proposal.

Board member Richard Snowden offered an update on the Local’s current search for a new publisher, and said the search committee is looking to make a final decision in the next few weeks. Snowden called the quality of applicants “stunning,” as the committee has narrowed down the list of candidates to five. These finalists will be coming in for in-person interviews, with the plan being to further narrow down the pool for a final round of interviews before a final decision is made.

Board members Keith Kunz, Craig Hosay and Tony Banks offered several updates on the Water Tower Recreation Center, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year. After holding its largest summer camp ever, all of the Water Tower’s outdoor fields are currently in use by various teams, and the organization is working with the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club to maintain the fields. In addition, the Water Tower Advisory Council is still working on implementing the Master Plan, as the Council members are currently working toward fixing the roofing.

The next CHCA meeting is currently set for Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. For updates on where the meeting will be held, follow the Community Association’s Facebook page at

Brendan Sample can be reached at