By Anne McNiff, Executive Director, and Kathi Clayton, Board President
Serving more than 10,000 residents of the greater Chestnut Hill area, the Chestnut Hill Community Association's values are service, advocacy and community. Our mission is to foster a feeling of unity in diversity and a sense of belonging and community spirit. Membership, which is open to all, includes a subscription to the Chestnut Hill Local. The CHCA welcomed more than 200 new members in 2022.
This past spring saw the CHCA beginning to return to in-person events while keeping some meetings and events virtual in order to allow for the greatest attendance by the community.
Some highlights include:
- A full season of seven free Pastorius Park concerts in June and July, this year with record-breaking crowds. Also a first this year was a children’s concert, which was met with delight by children of all ages.
- August once again brought Movies Under the Stars, which welcomed all to enjoy an evening of movies with family and friends at the Upper Water Tower Park.
- The Fall Frolic, a new event for this year, brought hundreds of people out for a night of dinner and dancing at the beautiful Philadelphia Cricket Club.
- The beginning of this holiday season saw the CHCA once again partnering with the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the Woodmere Art Museum to bring the Circle of Trees holiday event back to the community with Santa appearing live and in person.
- Finally, we ended the year with the much-missed Chestnut Hill Community Holiday Parade. More than 300 participants, including floats, bands, choirs, and of course, Santa Claus, marched down Germantown Avenue and brought a rush of holiday spirit to the crowds lining the Avenue.
- The CHCA teamed up with the Chestnut Hill Conservancy to present the Ask the Experts series. Organized by the Conservancy and co-presented quarterly by area experts, this series addresses issues relating to historic home and landscape care.
- The Green Space Initiative, led by the CHCA and funded through events and contributions, brings residents, business people and representatives from community organizations together to coordinate the restoration, maintenance and expansion of the commercial, residential, and public green spaces in our community. This past year’s projects supported by this group and funded by the CHCA included continued improvements to Pastorius Park and the Highland Avenue Train Station.
- When harsh new streetlights became a source of concern about local quality of life, the CHCA, together with neighbors, businesses, and the Chestnut Hill Local, met with officials from the Philadelphia Streets Department to voice concerns and press for change. That process is ongoing, and we continue to advocate for warmer lights, as well as a pilot project that would dim the lights when appropriate.
- Last but not least, this past year we continued to partner with local businesses on the new and improved 2022 Passport to the Chestnut Hill Experience, a CHCA membership benefit with more than $1,000 in free gifts and discounts.
- The CHCA website went through a major tune up this year, and now includes a Community Toolkit and an expanded page with photos and more documentation about projects that are going through the Development Review Process.
- As the convening RCO (registered community organization), the CHCA represents the community regarding the city of Philadelphia’s planning and development matters. This past year was a busy one, with the CHCA’s Development Review and Land Use, Planning, and Zoning committees working with fellow RCOs and civic organizations to ensure development takes place in a thoughtful and forward-thinking way.
- In a significant win, the CHCA, together with Summit Street neighbors, took a developer who was planning a large and potentially inappropriate residential building at 10 Bethlehem Pike to court, and prevailed. Our group won an appeal of the City’s L&I department decision to grant a by-right building permit there. The CHCA continues to work with neighbors and developers to come to a compromise that better suits this property, which is located at one of the entrances to Chestnut Hill.
As we look ahead to the coming year, the CHCA staff and its Board of Directors look forward to continuing to promote social connections and inclusion through our activities and programs.