Miller knew Fresh Grocer was closing

Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller met with Fresh Grocer executives about the store on Chelten Ave. that will close Monday, but apparently she never told community groups.

Community members have been up in arms about not being informed about the plan by Pulaski Partners LP of Wayne Pa. to replace the existing Fresh Grocer with a Save-A-Lot.

Miller’s Director of Communication Michael Quintero-Moore previously criticized the companies involved with the plan for not getting the word out to the community sooner.

Later, he said his boss was briefed about the possibility of the change eight months ago.

He said the meeting with Miller was not very detailed, and he declined to judge whether she also should have informed the community.

“It was a, ‘hey what if we did this kind of thing’ kind of meeting,” he said. “I can’t speak to what she should have done or shouldn’t have done.”

Betty Turner, executive director of the civic development group, Germantown Community Connection, sees this as an example of what needs to change in the neighborhood.

“They never told the community,” she said. “The openness, the timeliness, the participatory kinds of actions that are necessary to build a sustainable, healthy community are missing.”

Turner called for more responsiveness from the institutions that make Germantown their home, like the Fresh Grocer and Pulaski Partners, as well as from officials like Miller. In particular she sees the coming race for the Eighth District Council seat, which Miller will retire from at the end of this year, as the time for that to happen.

“We now have an opportunity to work on making that type of thing better,” she said. “This is the right timing and there are winds of change.”

Community members and activists in Germantown have generated a flurry of emails over the rumored changes at the Chelten lot. Their efforts secured a press release and architectural rendering from Pulaski Partners that, to some extent, clarified what had long been the suspicion – a mid range grocery story will be replaced by a discount chain.

The release did not offer details on what other stores might occupy the lot, or the extent of physical changes to be done there. The rendering shows a Dollar Tree as the second anchor store for the development. The release said the project would be complete by fall of this year.

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