by Brendan Sample

With a number of important events, both recently finished and coming up soon, the fall season remains an important one for the Chestnut Hill Community Association. At its Oct. 25 meeting at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, the CHCA board reviewed the past month and looked ahead through the end of the year,

One of those events was the annual Black and White Gala, held on Sunday, Oct. 6. Though specific figures from the evening are still being finalized, board treasurer Karl Martin revealed that projections show not only a significant increase in profits compared to each of the last two years but also a slight reduction in expenses as well.

Martin also noted that the money raised from the event will help to solve the board’s budget gap. Marilyn Paucker, vice president for the Social Division, praised the efforts of all those involved with planning the gala, calling it a “huge, over-the-top success.”

Phillip Dawson, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District, was also on hand to discuss the aftermath of the first Witches and Wizards Festival. The approximate turnout for the main event on Saturday, Oct. 20, was 7,500, while about 1,500 people came out for the Brews and Broomsticks pub crawl the previous evening.

Although the attendance was notably lower than previous Harry Potter festivals, the CHBD and businesses involved with the event believe that it was ultimately a success, with most firms reporting profitable figures. Philadelphia police officers assigned to the festival also reported no major incidents, as public safety was not threatened by the heavy but manageable levels of traffic both on the streets and sidewalks.

“The copyright issues with Harry Potter posed a unique challenge to the Business District this year, but I’m pleased that we were able to successfully reposition the event as a new fall festival and retain the interest of the public,” Dawson said. “The majority of our member businesses surveyed expressed a desire to continue offering this event in the future, and we look forward to welcoming visitors once again next year to a weekend of magical fun.”

Dawson also discussed a Wayfinders Signage grant from PennDOT to provide district signs for Northwest Philadelphia. Though the signs will not be implemented until sometime between late 2019 and early 2020, Dawson was looking to start getting the board’s input on the final designs.

In addition to naming individual districts, there will also be signs to identify important destinations within those districts. Board members will have a chance to make suggestions on which places in Chestnut Hill should be considered, as well as the main color for the signs, as each district will be getting a distinct color.

Continuing to look ahead, the board began public discussions concerning the Annual Appeal, which is set to begin in December. Board members Kathi Clayton and Susan Bray will be leading the fundraiser once again, and they spoke about wanting to hone in on the campaign’s message and emphasizing specific start and end dates. They attributed both donor and staff fatigue from the previous Annual Appeal to the fact that it extended into April, which is something they want to avoid this time around by ensuring that it lasts for three months and ends by March.

In the Physical Division, Joyce Lenhardt, vice president, gave an update on the variance request for a new fence on 421 West Mermaid Lane. Having already gone to the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee and Development Review Committee, both groups had voted to approve the fence plans. This was done after they were adjusted to allow for 100 percent opacity on the section of the fence directly in front of the house, and 50 percent opacity on the remaining section along Mermaid Lane. With the recommendation from the DRC, the board also approved a motion to support the plans.

The next CHCA meeting is currently set for Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.

Brendan Sample can be reached at brendan@chestnuthilllocal.com

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