Northwest Neighbors meeting focuses on Germantown school push, crime and clean blocks

 Tuesday night's Northwest Neighbors of Germantown meeting drew nearly two dozen attendees. (Daniel Pasquarello/for NewsWorks)

Tuesday night's Northwest Neighbors of Germantown meeting drew nearly two dozen attendees. (Daniel Pasquarello/for NewsWorks)

The Northwest Neighbors of Germantown group’s monthly meeting featured discussions of crime, efforts to bring a charter high school to the former GHS site and how to go about organizing one’s block.

Held Tuesday night at state Rep. Rosita Youngblood’s district office, the meeting drew more than 20 residents.

That tally did not include Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who called en route to tell organizers that an emergency had arisen so she couldn’t discuss legislative issues potentially affecting Germantown as planned.

With the group in its third year of operations, founder Lisa Hopkins recounted how it was initially formed in response to the Potter’s Field discovery at the Queen Lane Apartments site but has since evolved beyond just that issue.

“We felt that the ancestors buried there needed to be paid homage for their sacrifices on behalf of those who would go on after them to create this community,” she said. “We stand united today in order to restore Germantown to its original greatness.”

The charter-school push

Julie Stapleton Carroll and Joe Budd of Men Who Care of Germantown Inc. presented information concerning the Germantown Community Charter School Coalition’s pending application to revive the Germantown High School site.

The group hopes to open an independent charter school serving 1,050 neighborhood students in grades six through 12, and will make its case to the district at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Their message was well received.

“We lost our school last year,” said Hopkins. “Our children have been transferred all over the city. Now we have a chance to see the GHS campus re-open as a school once more. We need our school back. Our children need our school back.”

Stapleton Carroll and Budd implored the meeting to help spread word of the Coalition’s upcoming formal presentation.

“We have a bus reserved to provide transportation from GHS to Center City,” said Stapleton Carroll. “We’ll provide lunch. We’ll provide T-shirts. We hope to see a sea of green in the hearing room showing support from the community.”

Report from the 39th Police District

Joe Lukaitis, crime prevention officer for the 39th Police District, and Sgt. Ralph Harris spoke about crime trends in the neighborhood and fielded questions from attendees.

Thefts from automobiles remain a concern across the city, and Lukaitis urged residents to take common-sense preventative measures to avoid victimization.

“Before you leave your car, look inside it,” said Lukaitis. “If there are valuables in sight, others can see them, too. And please lock your car. Don’t add fuel to the fire.”

Lukaitis also provided information regarding a number of free programs offered by the city.

Those included Operation ID, which provides participants with a unique number to be affixed to personal property via a secure sticker, and Operation SAVE (Stolen Auto Verification Effort), which provides participants with a unique ID decal for their vehicle authorizing police to pull that vehicle over if it is observed on the road between the hours of 12 and 6 a.m.

“The more we report, the more we can clean up our streets and take our neighborhood back,” said Hopkins.

The city has also created a 311 app for smartphones which is available for download, free of charge.

Organizing from within

Robyn Matthews is the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee Clean Block Officer for the 5th and 39th Police Districts.

Matthews presented information concerning the Sanitation Division’s More Beautiful Committee, as well as other programs and services available for residents desiring to help keep their neighborhood clean.

Any resident can contact the Clean Block Officer assigned to his or her neighborhood and request a petition to elect or replace a block captain.

“If 51 percent of homes are in support of requesting a new block captain, then the current block captain must step aside,” said Matthews, who is currently organizing block-captain workshops.

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