Fox Chase group unanimously approves tree removal

Jeanes Hospital will soon make a major improvement to its utility infrastructure at the expense of a very old tree. But fret not, tree lovers. The medical facility will plant about 30 new trees to replace the one it will cut down.

Members of the Fox Chase Homeowners Association gave their unanimous approval for the tree removal during the group’s monthly joint meeting with the Fox Chase Town Watch on Sept. 9 at American Legion Post 366. Meanwhile, Philadelphia police Capt. Michael Gormley warned residents about a recent rash of home burglaries in the neighborhood.

Officials from Temple Health, which operates Jeanes and the neighboring Fox Chase Cancer Center, told residents of a plan to build a new electrical service substation on the hospital’s campus. The station will effectively replace and improve the existing one, which was built in the 1950s.

The construction process will require the removal of a century-old pin oak near the Barnes Street entrance. The tree is about 85 feet high with a trunk about 30 inches in diameter. Because of the size and age, it is considered a “heritage tree” under the city’s zoning code. So the hospital has to obtain a special zoning exception to remove it.

According to the hospital’s head groundskeeper and arborist, the typical lifespan for the species is about 120–150 years, so it could die or fall in the next decade or two. Temple officials said they would plant about 30 young trees, perhaps 1.5 inches to two inches in trunk diameter, on campus, including a large grouping near the intersection of Central and Hasbrook avenues.

No zoning exceptions or variances are required for the substation construction, which will have a footprint of about 930 square feet and stand two stories. It will abut the old, 525-square-foot, single-story substation, which the hospitals will retain.

Jeanes and Fox Chase Cancer Center will retain other larger pin oaks elsewhere on campus.

In other business, Homeowners President Matt Braden and Vice President George Bezanis announced that they will switch offices effective immediately. Braden decided to step down after leading the group for seven years. Bezanis volunteered to fill the position until the group’s next officer elections. Braden wants to stay involved, so he offered to become vice president.

During the Town Watch portion of the meeting, Gormley warned residents that there were 13 burglaries reported in the southern third of the 7th district, known as Police Service Area (PSA) 3. The territory spans from Rhawn Street north to Pennypack Park and from Roosevelt Boulevard west to the Montgomery County border.

Among the targeted properties were six private homes and seven apartment units. In response, Gormley issued a robo-call to residents of the neighborhood advising them to take security precautions. He recommends installing surveillance cameras and alarm systems. Residents should not leave their doors and windows open or unlocked when away from home, even if only for a few minutes.

Residents should keep an eye out for suspicious people and activities in their neighborhoods. If a strange person is snooping around a neighbor’s house, take note of the description and vehicle license tag if applicable. Information can be reported to the 7th district at 215–686–3070.

“We count on neighbors to let us know if something’s wrong,” Gormley said. ••