Mayfair Civic Association celebrates homecoming

The Mayfair Civic Association celebrated homecoming during the group’s bi-monthly meeting on May 16. Neighborhood natives Anthony Luca and Kathryn Ott Lovell each spoke to residents about their new, high-profile city jobs.

Luca is the new captain of the 15th Police District, while Lovell is the new commissioner of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Both have deep roots in Mayfair.

“It’s good to be home,” said Luca, a Father Judge High School graduate who has served 20 years in the police department, but had never worked in the 15th prior to his appointment as commander in March.

Luca said he played youth basketball for the Mayfair Shamrocks back in the day, but now he’s more concerned with taking care of the complaints he receives from residents every day. In addition to Mayfair, the 15th covers Holmesburg, Lexington Park, Tacony, Wissinoming, Bridesburg, Northwood and Frankford. Violent crime in those areas has declined by 7 percent since Luca’s arrival. His goal is a 10- to 15-percent reduction.

Luca is also trying to stem the epidemic of thefts from parked, unattended cars. In many cases, thieves don’t even have to break into the cars because the owners don’t bother to lock the doors, Luca said. The district is partnering with the Barbera car dealership to promote a new “Lock it up Program” that encourages folks to lock their car doors.

The captain said he is thrilled by the community support he’s gotten so far. On April 30, members of District Council 21 and Councilman Bobby Henon’s staff teamed to repaint the 15th district police station with supplies donated by Home Depot.

Luca said that community members can follow happenings in the district on Twitter through the official “PPD15Dist” account. The captain accepts complaints and comments via email at police.co_15@phila.gov.

Lovell has been Parks and Rec commissioner since Mayor Jim Kenney took office in January. She told the Mayfair residents that she played sports for the Holy Terrors and graduated from St. Matthew, then St. Hubert. She previously directed advancement for the Mural Arts Program and served as executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

During the Mayfair meeting, she and Henon revealed plans for renovations and new programming at the Mayfair Community Center, a city-operated recreation facility, in coordination with the neighboring Mayfair School.

This summer, Parks and Rec will install a mechanized, retractable wall between the two basketball courts in the community center gym. The center will also get a new part-time staff member who will coordinate activities such as computer classes for older adults.

In the fall, the Mayfair School will begin using one of the community center’s courts for the ensuing 18 months while renovations are underway at the school, including new classrooms and a multi-purpose room.

Additionally, new security cameras will be installed around the community center by next January, Henon said.

In other Mayfair business:

• Angie Dixon, deputy director for the mayor’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure, said that the city’s first two-way protected bicycle lane will soon be installed on Ryan Avenue between Rowland and Lexington avenues. The new feature will include side-by-side bike lanes on the east curb (that’s the one closest to Lincoln and Meehan schools). Flexible posts will be installed as a barrier between the bike lanes and a parallel parking lane. There will be one lane of traffic in each direction and a second parallel parking lane on the west side of the street. The new lanes will be installed after Ryan is resurfaced in the coming weeks.

• Mayfair Community Development Corporation Chairman Joe DeFelice introduced the new executive director of the CDC, Luka Lakuriqi, as well as the new executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District, Sam Siegel.

• Jim Ortlieb, the Mayfair Civic treasurer, said that the community group raised enough money to buy 60 American flags that will be installed on utility poles along Rowland Avenue from Frankford Avenue north. Exact locations have not been determined.

• Mayfair Memorial Playground Co-Chairwoman Melinda Mulvenna said that her group earned $8,600 in a recent raffle basket fundraiser at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall. The money will support continuing improvements of the community-run play area at Rowland Avenue and Vista Street. ••