State of Northwest Philly meeting draws residents, pols, data and ire

Northwest Philadelphia residents packed the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown for a Tuesday night community meeting to share their thoughts on a proposed collaborative plan to revitalize the neighborhood.

The meeting, aimed at starting a dialogue about “the State of the Northwest” fell short of some residents’ expectations, though.

State Rep. Stephen Kinsey (D-201st) moderated the meeting. Also in attendance were State Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-198th), Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, representatives on behalf of state Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-200th) and state Sens. Leanne Washington (D-4th) and Shirley Kitchen (D-3rd), and officers from the 14th and 39th police districts.

Draft presentation

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Local development consultant Maisha Jackson presented a draft titled “Invest Northwest Strategy.” It included historic data about schools, crime and economic development in the neighborhood of more than 160,000 residents.

The data, Bass said, will be crucial to the process of creating solutions.

“We want to make decisions based on data, so as we move forward, we’re not just making decisions that are knee-jerk, or emotionally driven, or even based on politics,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re making decisions for the greater good of the community.”

Jackson talked about an increase in families moving out of Germantown and single people moving in, a trend she attributed to a lack of quality school and job options in the neighborhood.

“People want good jobs and good schools, she said. “We need to start to take a hard look at employment training and workforce development. And to do that we have to begin to identify and maximize our resources.”

Kinsey suggested that one of the community’s greatest resources is the host of local organizations, many of which operate, or focus their efforts on issues that impact residents living, in Germantown.

What the residents said

Residents had little opportunity to raise some concerns about litter, loitering outside of local bars and businesses operating illegally.

Kinsey allowed several group leaders to introduce their organizations during the meeting, a process that took a lot of time away from the designated Q&A period when residents would have had the chance to present their suggestions.

Longtime Germantown resident Margaret Robinson was none too pleased.

“Y’all keep bringing all of these people up here to talk to us. When are we going to get to talk?” Robinson yelled.

Her sentiment was echoed by several attendees who nodded or grumbled in agreement before leaving the meeting seemingly less than satisfied with the outcomes.

Germantown resident Lorena Sydnor, however, felt the meeting was a good first step.

“I think they addressed a lot of the issues, but not all of them,” Syndor said. “They did try to offer some solutions but it’s one meeting. And I think if we keep meeting like this, maybe a lot more can be done.”

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