Fox Chase groups discuss train station, graffiti

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The Fox Chase Homeowners Association and Town Watch groups held the first meeting of the season last night, and two main subjects were on everyone’s minds – the new train station and the growing graffiti problem.

Councilman Brian O’Neill addressed the attendees first, to acknowledge that the new train station will be completed two years ahead of schedule, and mentioned that he believes the station will be “a real good thing” for Fox Chase.

O’Neill also addressed residents’ concerns over Plan C, a potential budget plan that would cut police and firemen. As an alternative, Mark Moroz, community relations officer for the 2nd Police District, suggested the city charge homeowners for non-emergency calls, as alarm companies do for false alarms. Moroz told O’Neill he had been to one particular house in the district 67 times for non-emergency calls. If homeowners like that one were charged, he said, the government could be making money.

“Money can drive behavior,” O’Neill agreed, saying the concept would also be a way to manage nuisance properties.

Following that notion, Matt Braden, president of the Homeowner’s Association, updated attendees on the latest zoning case in the neighborhood. The owner of 8301 Rising Sun Ave. appealed to have the property zoned as a duplex to rent out, though he had already been doing so without proper zoning for the past few decades. The association denied the petition, as members have a standing decision to vote against such appeals. However, the owner received zoning from the city, since the home was already operating as a duplex.

Events announced at last night’s meeting

Ready or Not — emergency preparedness tips, Sept. 17 at Philadelphia Protestant Home

Brendan Boyle Senior Expo — Sept. 17, CORA on Verree Road

-Cardinal Dougherty Alumni Band — Nov. 5 at Gloria Dei

Pat Miller of SEPTA spoke next, about the latest developments with the new train station.

“You’re going to get a great station,” she told everyone about the million-dollar project, which she assured residents will include landscaping.

Construction will begin at the end of the month with a groundbreaking ceremony at 9 a.m. Sept. 21. Though the station is slated for a December completion, Miller acknowledged there could be potential delays.

Steve Phillips, president of the Town Watch, recognized O’Neill and several neighbors for the ongoing playground improvements. Cameras have been installed on the upper fields, and windows in the rec center have been fixed – all part of a half-million dollar project.

Phillips also discussed another major issue with residents: graffiti. The most recent acts of vandalism have come from a tagger whose mark has been found at Rhawn Street and Tabor Road, in addition to Bingham Street and Summerdale Avenue. Neighbors have also been seeing swastikas around – at St. Cecilia’s, Fox Chase Elementary and on cars on the 8100-block of Elberon Street. Moroz, the community relations officer in attendance, said the Nazi symbol has also turned up in other parts of the district.

Though overall violent crime has “decreased drastically” since last year, Moroz said, crimes like burglary and vandalism are cropping up. In an effort to contain these instances, the 2nd District has increased patrols and added more bike cops. The bike cops, Phillips said, are good at sneaking up on teens and catching them in the act. (A group was recently caught with a large bag of marijuana by a bike cop they didn’t see coming.)

The officer also had good things to say about Tacony Academy Charter school, which has a two-year lease at 1330 Rhawn St. The K-4 school will become K-9 next year, and though the school will likely return to Tacony after the two-year lease, Moroz said, “I think it would be a real nice asset to the community.”

The Fox Chase Homeowners Association and Town Watch groups will next meet Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

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