CHCA Annual Meeting caps an unusual year

by Walt Maguire
Posted 7/28/21

The annual members meeting of the Chestnut Hill Community Association on July 22 began with the recitation of the CHCA’s activities over the past year, and a reminder of how difficult things had been.

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CHCA Annual Meeting caps an unusual year

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The annual members meeting of the Chestnut Hill Community Association on July 22 began with the recitation of the CHCA’s activities over the past year, and a reminder of how difficult things had been. New, socially distanced events, cancelled traditional gatherings, virtual versions, all testing the definition of what a community association could be when a community had to cut back on being in the same room together.

This was the first in-person meeting of the CHCA in almost a year. The group of 30 or so members at St. Martin-in-the-Fields church hall at Willow Grove and St. Martins Lane was a smaller crowd than usual, but the membership is up, with 2800 renewals and 218 new members, making it the most successful membership and fundraising year in its history.

Between July 2020 and July 2021, 18 member events engaged more than 450 members, and public community events over 1000 people, most happening during a time when in  person events were limited or cancelled. Some of the improvised solutions were popular enough to be considered new traditions to be added. When the Circle of Trees Christmas tree-lighting event at Woodmere Art Museum had to be cancelled, a virtual version was created, with the Norwood-Fontbonne Academy Note-ables caroling around the tree virtually. A Holiday Door Decorating contest caught on quickly. The origin stories for these might become part of their yearly appeal.

In her “State of the Association,” CHCA President Kathi Clayton said “My objectives, which I have shared with Board members, for the coming year are to continue to develop and achieve the programs and goals which were established this past year. A few of them are: a review of the CHCA by-laws, incorporating an updated conflict of interest policy for Board members; having community inclusive Board and Committee memberships; a renewed Institutional Partnership with Jenks School; and increased collaboration with other Chestnut Hill organizations so the CHCA has an understanding of all interests.

“It has been quite an experience this past year and I sincerely appreciate all the support and encouragement of the community.  The many compliments regarding the results of the CHCA endeavors are gratifying and could only have been achieved through the talent of the staff and the membership.”

Zoning and development are key roles of the CHCA. Clayton reported “In the past 12 months nine projects entered Chestnut Hill’s development review process. Five of these projects were seeking a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Adjustments to support their request of a variance. Five received a preliminary review at a DRC meeting without formal paperwork being submitted to the city.

“Currently the CHCA, along with The Conservancy, and Friends of Wissachickon, is working with E. Mermaid Lane Neighbors group to give  the developers concrete information about community concerns regarding development of the 100-101 Mermaid Lane property.

“The CHCA and the Summit St. neighbors group are co-plaintiffs in an appeal of the City’s by-right zoning permit given to developers of 10 Bethlehem Pike.”

July 22 was also the last day for new CHCA board elections. This year was especially active, with 16 candidates for the nine open seats. Zoning and development were a major issue for many of the nominees.

Because there were so many candidates, the results will be published in next week’s edition of the Local.

A report on the state of the Chestnut Hill Local by Ellen Badger, Local Board President, stated subscriptions and advertising revenue had gone down during the pandemic, but were recovering. The new Wissahickon magazine was reaching over 9,000 households.

After the official duties of the meeting were complete, there was a presentation by guest speaker Kris Soffa on “Grassroots Advocacy in Philadelphia.” Soffa is active in environmental issues, co-founding Toxic Free Philly, an advocacy group that led efforts to pass the Healthy Outdoor Public Spaces bill (HOPS), eliminating the use of toxic pesticides on Philadelphia public land. The bill is currently awaiting the mayor’s signature. Soffa is on the Commission of Parks and Recreation in Philadelphia, a Trail Ambassador for the Friends of the Wissahickon, and a Democratic Committeeperson for the 21st Ward.

Member Events from the past year

Nature Walk with Paul Meyer and Ruth Pfeffer at Dixon Meadow Preserve
4 Birding Walks with Ruth Pfeffer 
Birding event with Judith Goltz
Outdoor Sketch Class with Jane Klein
Poetry Class with Marie Higgins
Virtual Exercise Class with Balance Chestnut Hill
Re-Invent Your Outdoor Living Space with Starr at Tailored Home
2 Wine and Cheese evenings at Hilltop Books including tours and discounts
Author Event/ Book Signing at Hilltop Books
Nature Club 5 week session for middle schoolers with Andorra Library and WhiteMarsh Foundation
Outdoor Community Supper Sept 2020
Summer Solstice Dinner at the Cricket Club: June 2021
Virtual Tour of Woodmere Art Museum
Total Attendees: 446

Community Events

Pumpkin Decorating Contest
Holiday Deck The Door Contest
MLK Activity Book – partnership with Woodmere and CHBA
St Patrick’s Irish Dancing/Music Event
Vaccination Partnership
Spring Garden Stroll booth-seed packet giveaway
Pastorius Park Concerts
Christmas In July Sno-Cones
Ask the Expert in partnership with the CH Conservancy

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