Civic association has a packed agenda at well-attended meeting

The Mayfair Civic Association meeting lasted three and a half hours last week, as members welcomed political candidates and debated several zoning issues.

The meeting attracted about 150 people.

Attorney Ron Patterson spoke of a bid to move a Planet Fitness into a former Fashion Bug at 6520 Frankford Ave., in the Mayfair Shopping Center. The 10,000-square-foot gym would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patterson and Planet Fitness officials will return for a follow-up meeting.

The group voted 24–1 in favor of a proposal by the School District of Philadelphia to place a fourth trailer in the yard of Mayfair Elementary School to ease overcrowding.

Principal Roberta Besden said the school did not receive approval to hold classes in the adjacent Mayfair Community Center, which holds many programs for senior citizens during the day. This will be the fourth “temporary” trailer, including one that has been on site for 15 years.

The group voted 20–7 in favor of allowing a Laundromat to open in a former Wawa store at 2847–49 Tyson Ave. Members will demand that the owner agree to several provisos before granting final approval. The owner plans to have the store remain open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week. The spot would consist of 56 washers and 58 dryers. The last wash would be at 11 p.m.

Opponents cited parking concerns and argued there is no need for another Laundromat.

“We all have washers and dryers,” one man said.

Some worried that the business would attract poor people, homeless people and riff-raff.

“If we can’t do better than a Laundromat,” one man said, “we’re in trouble in a couple years.”

Civic association president Joe DeFelice and others aren’t thrilled with a Laundromat, but he said a vacant shop or some alternatives could be worse.

“I want to see Brooks Brothers. I want to see Tiffany. But they’re not coming,” he said.

The association voted 19–0 in favor of a proposed J.J.’s Smoke Shop at 7221–23 Frankford Ave. It’s the former home of a soft pretzel shop and Bobby Henon’s City Council campaign office. Customers will be able to buy high-end cigars and roll their own tobacco. Groceries will also be sold. Pipes will not be for sale.

The group voted unanimously to oppose legalization of a carpet cleaning business in the basement of a corner property at 3256 Friendship St. Neighbors complained that the property was an eyesore, especially a bright yellow banner and signage in the grass and on windows. They also complained about the poor attitudes of employees.

Even before the vote, owner Dave Zeitz said he’d return to operating the business out of his home elsewhere in Mayfair.

“I’ll move out. It’s OK,” he said. “I will move out at the end of the month. I’m sorry for disturbing everybody in the area.”

In other news from the March 19 meeting:

• Political candidates in the April 24 primary election were given three minutes each to woo the audience.

State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172nd dist.) celebrated the strength of the Mayfair Community Center and the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s decision to revoke permits for a proposed methadone clinic. He plans bipartisan legislation to address negligent property owners.

Primary challenger Dan Collins, a teacher, described himself as a lifelong Mayfair resident. He’s been active with the St. Matthew CYO as a coach. He’d fight state cuts to public education.

Republican Al Taubenberger, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for nearly 20 years, spoke of his long tenure as head of the Burholme Community Town Watch and Civic Association. A member of the St. Hubert High School advisory board, he credited colleague Kathryn Ott Lovell with leading the effort to raise money to save the school. He promised to help residents lobby for a new school, if warranted, to relieve overcrowding at Mayfair Elementary School.

William Dunbar, the Democratic candidate in the 177th Legislative District, opposes state cuts to education and senior citizen programs. He wants to give more options to parents with children in failing schools. He faulted Republican Rep. John Taylor for supporting a bill that requires photo identification to vote.

Taylor, first elected in 1984, said his top priority is neighborhood stabilization. He’s been addressing blighted properties and wants to strike a delicate balance between making Catholic schools vibrant, improving public schools and satisfying the demand for charter schools.

State Sen. Mike Stack (D-5th dist.), elected in 2000, has been working on keeping health insurance affordable and preserving funding for Philadelphia public schools. He’s concerned about the city’s tax reassessment plan, calling it “a tax increase on the middle class.”

John Featherman, the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-1st dist.), joked that some people think he’s on a “suicide mission.” He attended a Mayfair Civic Association meeting last year when he was running for mayor. He lost the primary by 64 votes. Citing that race to argue that every vote counts, he called on civic members to ask their family and friends who aren’t registered to register.

Joe Rooney, the Republican candidate in the 13th Congressional District, cited the budget deficit, national debt and high gasoline prices as issues he’d tackle if elected. The married father of five served in the Marines on active and Reserve duty for 23 years and today is a captain for Delta Air Lines.

Political director Neil Deegan spoke for four-term Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz. He spoke of her office’s constituent service work, her opposition to the privatization of Social Security and the funding she has secured to develop the Delaware Avenue riverfront and make Roosevelt Boulevard safer.

• The crowd applauded Decatur Street resident Patti Vaughn, the first person to spread the word that a methadone clinic was planned for 7900 Frankford Ave. The zoning board recently voted to revoke permits issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

“That is not the end of the road,” said attorney Dawn Tancredi, who represented clinic opponents in front of the ZBA.

Tancredi and Phil McFillin, of the Mattioni law firm, told the crowd the methadone clinic operator would likely appeal.

• DeFelice said there were no reports of public urination or other problems during the recent Shamrock Shuttle, a pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Mayfair bars.

“We got eighty-three phone calls last year, but not one phone call this year,” he said.

• Friends of Pennypack Park invites the community to recycle electric or battery-powered items on Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, at Abraham Lincoln High School’s Ryan Avenue parking lot.

A $5 donation is suggested for each television, fax machine, scanner or computer monitor.

Proceeds will benefit park maintenance and revitalization.

The Friends group collects recycled items at Lincoln on the third Saturday of every month, rain or shine. The group also holds park cleanups on the fourth Saturday of the month from March through November.

More information is available by calling 215–934-PARK.

• The Mayfair Fallen Heroes Run and May Fair will take place on Saturday, May 19.

The run raises money for Hero Thrill Show Inc., which provides college scholarships for the children of Philadelphia police officers and firefighters who were killed or disabled in the line of duty, This year’s event will be held in memory of Joseph Konrad, a firefighter killed in a 1984 arson blaze in Fishtown.

The May Fair will feature sidewalk sales and live music at Frankford and Cottman avenues.

Monsignor Charles McGroarty, longtime pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church, will receive the Resident of the Year award.

• The Mayfair Civic Association will meet on Monday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at the Mayfair Community Center, at 2990 St. Vincent St. ••