Yet again, Germantown residents felt as if they’d been snubbed.
So, when they noticed their neighborhood’s historical landmarks incorrectly listed as being in Mt. Airy on city-endorsed VisitPhilly.com tourism website, they signed a petition established by a resident to address the perceived slight.
Though the signature count as of Thursday morning was 397 and rising, it had already been deemed a success. Why? Because tourism officials staunchly denied an intentional oversight and scheduled a meeting with Germantowners by week’s end.
Those sites are Grumblethorpe, Wyck Historic House & Garden, the Johnson House, Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion and Awbury Arboretum.
Carroll said she twice called the VisitPhilly contact number last week and emailed the website’s sister blog, uwishunu.com, but didn’t receive a response. The third time she called VisitPhilly, a woman explained that the site’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods page was a project funded by a former William Penn Foundation grant.
“We struggle with the perception of Germantown,” Carroll said. “It often gets the short end of the stick.”
The petition was shared on the “Living in Germantown: All Together” Facebook page, where commenters deemed the situation “outrageous” and “ridiculous.”
“It is interesting to me that Germantown is subsumed under Mt. Airy for this purpose,” read a comment by the account name of Saku Longshore on MoveOn.org. “What is the issue? A poor understanding of Philly neighborhoods? A dislike of poor people? So curious to know.”
Carroll said the petition doubles as a means through which residents can advocate for the neighborhood’s reputation.
Not intentionally omitted
Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of the the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, which oversees VisitPhilly.com, said it was not an issue of treating the neighborhood differently.
Rather, Germantown didn’t appear on the site because residents and officials there never requested inclusion before now.
Other neighborhoods “have developed a strong concentration on food, shopping and special events,” Levitz said. The petition “tells us they’re ready. So we’re glad. They’re passionate people and we’re glad they are.”
Levitz said there were never intentions of treating Germantown as a second-tier neighborhood.
“I don’t understand how someone could think that,” Levitz said. “I don’t think there’s anything like that in Philadelphia.”
Actions bring reactions
A few hours after Stapleton posted the petition, VisitPhilly.com’s director of social media emailed with the hope of sparking a conversation.
Levitz, who was on a business trip when the petition was posted, said late Tuesday that a meeting was being scheduled for Germantown residents to present what they would like to see on the tourism website.
Carroll confirmed to NewsWorks that a meeting is scheduled for Friday. Officials Historic Germantown and Germantown United Community Development Corp. are already working on a memo outlining concerns prior to the meeting, she said.
“We agree with them that there’s many exciting things that can happen [in Germantown],” Levitz said. “The website is never done. We go by the Google ethos that our website is always in beta.”