Civic group discusses dangers on Holme Avenue

Those who think that dangerous drivers are a growing problem along Holme Avenue are mistaken.

Actually, they’ve been a problem for a long time, according to City Councilman Denny O’Brien, who cited a variety of accident statistics to support this assertion during the monthly meeting of the Holme Circle Civic Association on March 27.

In February, members of the civic group asked the area’s elected officials to help them quell persistent speeding and recklessness along the four-lane, parkway-style avenue. O’Brien, a Republican at-large member of Council and former state representative for the neighborhood, reported last week that police will use statistics to guide a new traffic enforcement effort.

As of the civic meeting date, there had been 34 accidents in 2013 on Holme Avenue, which originates at Roosevelt Boulevard adjacent to Nazareth Hospital and continues eastward for two miles, terminating at the intersection of Academy Road and Linden Avenue. As of the same date last year, there also had been 34 accidents, O’Brien said.

There were 72 accidents reported on Holme Avenue for all of 2012, about half of which occurred between the 2900 and 3100 blocks, the segment immediately adjoining the traffic circle for which the civic association is named.

“This may be linked to motorist confusion how to navigate the circle,” O’Brien said.

The traffic circle links the avenue with Ashton and Welsh roads, as well as Axe Factory Road, which intersects with Welsh just north of the circle. Traffic signals orchestrate vehicle flow. Holme Avenue bisects the circle so that eastbound and westbound traffic need not use the circle unless turning onto one of the secondary roads. This probably assists traffic flow through the circle, but also offers a heightened opportunity for speeding.

The posted speed limit on Holme Avenue is 30 mph, a restriction that almost “nobody” obeys, said O’Brien, who also noted that about 8 percent or about one in 12 accidents involve a moving vehicle striking a parked one, usually belonging to an avenue resident.

Police will treat the aforementioned blocks as accident “hot spots” and employ additional units during key times and days of the week, according to the councilman, who said he brought neighbors’ complaints to Capt. Leonard Ditchkofsky, commander of the 8th Police District. Monday mornings seem to be the busiest period for accidents, with 11 percent of them occurring between 7 a.m. and noon on that weekday, O’Brien said.

On an unrelated topic, Sister Celine Warnilo of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth addressed the civic meeting about recent developments on the proposed sale of the order’s convent at 2701 Holme Ave. The Holy Family sisters had agreed to sell the six-story, 45,000-square-foot building to a company that planned to convert it into apartments for low-income residents. Neighbors and the area’s elected officials opposed the $11 million apartment proposal, which relied on a state funding component.

Earlier this month, a state agency rejected public funding for the project and the developer withdrew its plans.

Sister Celine thanked the civic association “for bringing the community’s concerns to us” and for “protecting” the nuns, who will soon move to a new smaller dwelling next door to the old convent.

“Are we sad we still own this property? Yes we are,” the sister said. “But we have faith God will provide us with a buyer that is very good for the community and for us.”

State Rep. John Sabatina and O’Brien offered to assist the civic association and the nuns in their search for a new buyer.

“We’re going to be trying hard to find a new buyer for the sisters,” Sabatina said, noting that state Reps. Ed Neilson and Kevin Boyle, along with O’Brien, City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Sen. Mike Stack all stood behind the civic association’s opposition. “I believe we did make the right decision regarding the original application.” ••

Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com