Northwest Neighbors of Germantown discuss wide array of topics at Wednesday meeting

 A representative of the 39th Police District Narcotics Unit offered Northwest Neighbors of Germantown a drug-trafficking update. (Olivia Jane Winters/for NewsWorks)

A representative of the 39th Police District Narcotics Unit offered Northwest Neighbors of Germantown a drug-trafficking update. (Olivia Jane Winters/for NewsWorks)

Everything from insecticide and bus-route changes to illegal drugs and the Potter’s Field issue was on the agenda for Wednesday night’s Northwest Neighbors of Germantown meeting, which was held in the lobby of the Queen Lane regional-rail stop.

In addition to residents, representatives from SEPTA, transit police, the 39th District narcotics unit and state Rep. Rosita Youngblood’s office attended.

Transit issues

The group’s community organizer, Lisa Hopkins, started off with concerns about recent changes made to SEPTA’s K bus route. Signs along West Coulter Street and Midvale Avenue indicated that stops have been discontinued there.

“Neighbors do not know where the bus stops are, and what times the bus runs,” said Hopkins over a chorus of agreement neighbors. “The signage for the bus stops is on cardboard. Are we going to have permanent signs made to resolve this issue if the closing of the bridge is to be permanent?”

The changes stem from PENNDOT’s recent partial closing of the Coulter Street Bridge. A detour became necessary because of a three-ton weight limit, according to Wendy Green Harvey, SEPTA spokeswoman.

It will remain in effect until PENNDOT says the coast is clear, Harvey added.

Ed Wallace, also of SEPTA, assured attendees that the signs were in the process of being upgraded. He also fielded questions regarding insecticide sprays being used around the train station, located at Queen Lane and Wissahickon Avenue on the border of Germantown and East Falls.

Catherine Adams, a resident and beekeeper, said, “Two years in a row, my hives have died, and a lot of people are associating the sprays with the death of bees.”

Wallace responded that the herbicide used is EPA-approved.

“We have to keep the railroad safe,” he said. “The product changes each year. This year, the products are Accord and Viewpoint. I looked at them yesterday and they are comparable to what is used in Roundup.

“There is a chance that it is more heavily concentrated, but it says that it doesn’t affect streams, fish and wildlife; it concentrates in the plant and has a short life in the soil.”

Law-enforcement concerns

SEPTA also faced questions regarding recent crimes occurring near the station and what steps were being taken to make the area safer.

Transit Police Lt. Ron Coates said the station would be put on the new regional-rail visibility list which has officers stop at particular stations to spend an hour patrolling and speaking with ticket-booth operators about any incidents.

Neither the transit police nor the 39th District said they have the resources to offer 24/7 security in the area. That’s where the group’s Town Watch Program proposal, which is still in the discussion phase, could come into play.

Potter’s Field update

Long-standing concerns regarding the PHA development on the Queen Lane Apartments site also arose.

A lack of communication between involved parties and parking concerns were referenced, along with lack of a playground as the site is fenced off. One resident noted that “our kids are out playing in the street because they have nowhere to play.”

While PHA was not represented at the meeting, local architect Peter DiCarlo again presented his alternative proposals for the site.

“Regardless of what plan gets built, it’s going to be a pretty dense area”, DiCarlo noted. “The real fight is to try to get the PHA to do a little better than they are proposing right now.”

Hopkins then noted that “Mayor [Michael] Nutter has refused to meet with us” about the ongoing controversy.

She also said

As for getting the PHA to listen to the demands of the overall neighborhood, Eighth District City Councilwoman “Cindy Bass is the first person who needs to be convinced that this project is doable, the people want it and it’s a win-win situation”, said DiCarlo.

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