MNC opposes bike race date change and drinking curfew, withdraws support for Leverington condo project

Their decisions were unanimous.

Members of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council agreed last week to oppose two proposals recently put forth by city officials and private organizations.

MNC’s membership withheld support from a proposal to extend bar closing time to 3 a.m. Countering an initiative for a Saturday start, the MNC resolved to maintain the Philadelphia International Championship (PIC) bicycle race’s present date of Sunday, June 3. 

In addition, those present voted to withdraw support from a plan put forth last month by developers of the 2 Levering building over concerns related to parking and what may be considered a lack of transparency by the developers.

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In attendance was State Representative Pamela DeLissio of the 194th Legislative District, which serves Northwest Philadelphia and Montgomery County.

Opposition to new curfew proposal

Reacting to a January proposal by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, MNC president Kevin Smith explained the particulars of the 3 a.m. drinking curfew and discussed its potential impacts on Manayunk’s heavily-trafficked Main Street.

Smith related that the plan is expected to deliver $5 million in new liquor taxes to the struggling Philadelphia School District, which he noted is a “small number” when compared to the PSD’s projected $650 million budget shortfall.

Citing that the city currently takes in approximately $41 million in liquor taxes, Smith said it was unrealistic to expect 10 percent of that figure to be generated by an extra hour of service a day.

More difficult to calculate is the impact of the 3 a.m. closing on Manayunk residents, who already suffer from late-night carousing’s collateral damage. To that end, he suggested a strong and immediate opposition to Brown’s bill.

“The best thing is to head this off as strong as possible early on,” said Smith, as the plan “is counter to everything (MNC) has been doing for the last ten years.”

Bike race date change? 

Just as the corner was being turned in curbing public indiscretions at the PIC bicycle race, Smith gave notice that the promoters of the annual event have asked the city to move this year’s race from Sunday to Saturday.

He suggested that the promoters have experienced funding issues, due in part to the expenses of retaining a significant police presence for traffic enforcement and crowd-control purposes.

Smith was unsure if a Saturday race would indeed save promoters money – indeed, it might cost more, he noted – but it would likely have an impact on local businesses, to say nothing of the community.

Observing that local bars “are happy one way or another,” he said that a Saturday race could have a damaging effect on local retailers and restaurants, which experience higher sales volume on the day prior to the event – and little on race day.

In addition, said Smith, community-oriented events scheduled for the preceding Saturday might suffer from a simultaneous – and competing – bike race.

While he urged MNC to oppose a Saturday race – ultimately earning their backing – he proposed that the promoters negotiate with the city for discounted services and to investigate additional sponsorship funding.

Lastly, as the 2012 race will feature an “amateur race” predicted to bring in 3,000 participants – at $90 a head – Smith suggested that promoters wait until next year to assess their finances, and not “jam this through a few months before the race.”

Delays on Leverington condo project 

As reported by Newsworks, a plan was unveiled at January’s MNC meeting for a renovation at 2 Leverington Ave. in Manayunk.

The plan was approved by MNC, and went before the Philadelphia Zoning Committee last month, where residents from an adjacent condominium association voiced their opposition to the developers’ plan.

The PZC issued a two-week delay on their decision.

Characterizing the opposition, MNC Vice-President John Hunter said the condo association knew “virtually nothing” about proposals for 2 Leverington. Because of this, he related, perceived shortcomings in the developers plan needed to be addressed before going forward.

Representing the condo association was Matthew DiGiulio.

He explained that the principal point of contention between the condo association and the developers is parking.

According to DiGiulio, 2 Leverington and his building share a parking lot with approximately 124 usable parking spots. Under the developers’ plan, 36 of those spots are to be allocated to renters of the proposed apartments at 2 Leverington.

At present, 59 spots are deeded to condo owners, but as the condos are two-bedroom units, DiGiulio estimated that most of the available parking is already utilized.

Compounding this paucity of parking is that some of the available spots suffer from poor drainage, preventing their use in wet weather.

The implication being that, when a parking lot largely spoken for is further divided and distributed, cars will overflow onto already-taxed Manayunk streets.

Rather than compound the situation in the streets, DiGiulio would like to see a tangible solution reached by the developers in conjunction with the condo association.

“Ultimately, a good outcome can happen here,” said DiGiulio who, as a commercial realtor himself, added, “I’m keen on seeing responsible development.”

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