Wissahickon residents work to rid neighborhood of troublesome tenants

It’s all about safety for Andrew Bantly.

Bantly is president of the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association [WNCA], which held its monthly meeting this past Monday at Pilgrim Terrace Presbyterian Church in Wissahickon.

WNCA serves the area bordered to the east by Ridge Avenue, Henry Avenue to the north, and Shurs and Walnut Lanes to the west. It shares its eastern boundary with the Wissahickon Interested Citizens Association [WICA].

Speaking with Bantly after Monday’s WNCA meeting, he said his organization’s gathering “closely mirrored” that of an October WICA meeting, as previously reported by Newsworks.

Foremost on the agenda was a discussion of the 4th Councilmanic District’s new “Student Task Force” initiative.

In the task force’s plan, civic associations in the 4th District will identify problematic student rental properties – “hot houses” – whose information will then be provided to police and municipal agencies, in addition to university administration.

“For many in the neighborhood, we’re struggling with these things,” said Bantly. “We know that student rentals are vital,” he allowed, but tempered that by saying “the quality of life in the neighborhood is the top priority.”

Bantly sees the Student Task Force as a way of establishing a protocol for dealing with troublesome tenants, with what he said is a “safety thrust.”

“We have dealt with problem houses in the past,” he said, “but there was no procedure in place.”

In the past, enforcement largely fell to one man – Officer Charles Kline, community engagement officer for the 5th Police District.

“A lot of the burden falls on him,” said Bantly, emphasizing that the Task Force will not only ease Officer Kline’s burden, but establish a framework for future enforcement.

Bantly was quick to point out Officer Kline’s efficacy, however.

“Charlie has done a great job,” said Bantly. “I can’t say how many things he’s done for the community.”

Although not on the agenda, Bantly gave a briefing on WNCA’s efforts to combat parking problems.

Noting the amount of cars present in the evening – some of it overflow from Main Street Manayunk – the organization has developed a plan to implement permit parking from 6pm to 6am daily.

Bantly said that while they have received the “go-ahead’ from the 4th district Councilman Curtis Jones’ office, the plan is currently on hold by WNCA.

“Whether it’s parking or the Student Task Force,” said Bantly, “we want to make sure safety comes first.”

Another meeting highlight was the election of 2011/2012 WNCA officers.

According to Bantly, the current executive board will remain in place, the sole exception being that the secretary chair will be taken over by WNCA trustee Heather Hanner.

An amendment to the group’s by-laws, scheduled to take place at Monday’s meeting, will occur at the December meeting instead.

For more information, visit www.e-wnca.org.

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