Breath of fresh air in Point Breeze

By Andrea Lorenzo and Aden Gideon
For Philadelphia Neighborhoods

In the heart of South Philadelphia lies a small yet dedicated neighborhood organization. The Newbold Civic Association, formed in 2006, was created to serve as a forum for residents to share their concerns and interests toward bettering their community.

The Newbold neighborhood is part of the Point Breeze section of Philadelphia. In recent years, residents have given the area a new name in efforts to differentiate it from Point Breeze.

The boundaries for the NCA reach from Broad to 18th streets and Tasker to Wolf streets. The association deals with a wide range of community matters from monthly block cleanups to zoning issues. The NCA also focuses on bringing the community together through events like movie nights in the park and group gardening sessions.

Naomi Geschwind, the president of NCA, is committed to making the Newbold neighborhood a safer, cleaner and more beautiful place for its residents. Geschwind explained that the primary focus of the NCA was to clean up the large amounts of trash littered in the area because it was too much for the city to handle on its own. To assist in neighborhood upkeep, NCA members hold monthly cleanups from April to November, weather permitting.

In addition, the NCA handles many zoning issues in the area including illegal home conversions in attempts to keep the neighborhood a familial environment. The NCA has also been involved in obtaining angle parking versus “double parking, the old South Philadelphia favorite,” explained Geschwind.

The organization is also devoted to making Newbold a greener neighborhood. The NCA has planted more than 200 trees in the past five years.

Geschwind explained that the NCA meets on the last Monday of each month at the Guerin Recreation Center located on the corner of 16th and Jackson streets.

“People bring in zoning issues that they’re noticing. They will come in and ask for advice on dealing with problems such as barking dogs, noisy neighbors, overexcited teenagers congregating in the streets. That kind of thing,” said Geschwind.

su1130broadsnca from Philadelphia Neighborhoods on Vimeo.

The NCA is also a place for members of the community to share information and resources. Geschwind explained that neighbors often refer one another to contacts for home services like contractors, plumbers and painters. She also explained that the NCA informs residents on how the city government works and how to get plans in motion.

“We have lots of people that are involved in lots of different ways,” said Geschwind. She explained that there are some members who attend all the monthly meetings and others who participate in special events like “Night Out on the Block,” a small, casual party held outside a home in the neighborhood.

Geschwind said, “It’s just our way of showing that we’re here and that this is an area that we are looking out for. And sometimes people will be walking by and they’ll see us out there having a good time and we’ll say, ‘Here! Come join us! We’re the neighborhood association.’”

The NCA is made up of several committees such as Safety, Community Relations, Zoning, Communications, Fundraising, Green Group, and Trash, Graffiti and Recycling. The association holds annual elections to select officers and committee heads.

Geschwind explained that the NCA has received a positive response from the neighborhood.

“One of the things that people were most happy about was when the city came in and said that they were going to be renovating this whole recreation center [Guerin] and playground. And we got very involved in that and brought to the attention of the landscapers and so forth some issues that we thought specifically needed to be addressed,” said Geschwind.

One issue that the NCA felt needed to be resolved was the safety of the playground. Before renovation, the playground was commonly occupied by adults in the neighborhood which “was making it unsafe for children,” said Geschwind.

Since renovation, the NCA has placed gates at the entrance of the playground. The gates are open and closed by community members each day. As a result, the playground has become both safer and cleaner.

A longtime resident of Newbold, Frank Caruso, is pleased with the renovations and thankful to the NCA. He and his grandson frequent the playground at the recreation center.

“Years ago, when we first started coming here, the rides were all dilapidated and dangerous. The trees add beauty to the park … People that work in the park keep it clean,” said Caruso.

The NCA will hold its next monthly cleanup on June 11 and next monthly meeting on June 27. Residents of the neighborhood are encouraged to attend and share their thoughts and concerns. The cleanup will be held at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Both events will take place at the Guerin Recreation Center.

To learn more about the NCA, visit the website at http://www.newboldcivic.org/.

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