The Upper Holmesburg community had a chance to get tens of thousands of dollars for the construction of new playground equipment on an open patch of city park ground at Frankford Avenue and Pennypack Street.
All it had to do was raise as little as $8,500 in seed money — and deal with a potential influx of playful children.
But neighborhood residents chose to pass on the deal during the June 16 meeting of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association.
A couple of folks said they’d prefer that the site remain empty, save for some well-worn grass. Other meeting-goers remained silent on the issue in apparent indifference, leaving UHCA president Stan Cywinski little choice but to table the idea.
“I think what I’m hearing is we’re just not ready. I’ll tell them we’ll pass on this round,” Cywinski said.
By “them,” the civic leader was referring to KaBOOM! — a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that partners with corporations and volunteer groups to develop play areas mostly in economically stressed or disadvantaged communities.
The basic premise is for corporate, foundation and individual donors to provide the bulk of the funding, while KaBOOM! brings the know-how, and the neighborhood supplies the manpower.
According to Cywinski, the Friends of Pennypack Park was the lead community organization in the local proposal, but the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department were to provide vital support in raising seed money, rounding up volunteers, affirming the chosen site and assuring perpetual maintenance.
KaBOOM! requires open space measuring at least 50 feet by 50 feet. Once approved and funded, construction is expected to take just one day from start to finish.
Consent and enthusiasm from immediate neighbors are also considered vital to the KaBOOM! model. Upper Holmesburg didn’t demonstrate that.
During the civic meeting, one longtime local resident said that the site at Frankford and Pennypack already draws too many youths and young adults, without the added attraction of playground equipment. Nobody at the meeting offered a counter opinion.
The civic group did not take a formal vote on the playground proposal. It remains unknown if the Friends of Pennypack Park plans to apply to KaBOOM! for the playground funding, anyway.
In unrelated neighborhood business:
• The civic association gave its preliminary consent to a conceptual proposal by the owners of the Ashburner Inn to create an outdoor café-style dining area.
Mike Driscoll and Steve Bishop, who own the property at 8400 Torresdale Ave., said that the patio would be set up to the north of the building in the existing parking lot.
Patrons wishing to enter the patio would have to do so from the inside of the bar/restaurant. Outdoor access would be closed so that the staff could control who enters the patio.
Food service would be available outside, as would a portable bar. Hours of operation have not been set.
The business has yet to apply to the city for proper building and operating permits.
• The UHCA is planning its annual Octoberfest at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall for Friday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m.
Individual seats are available for $25. It costs $200 to reserve a table of 10. The buffet will include a variety of homemade seasonal dishes, along with soft drinks and beer.
Raffles will be baskets of cheer, sports memorabilia and other gifts supplied by local businesses.
Money raised will directly support the UHCA and its efforts to represent the community on zoning and other issues. For information, visit www.upperholmesburg.org or the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association page on Facebook.com.
• The next UHCA meeting will be on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m., at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall, 8532 Frankford Ave. ••
Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org