Still no progress on former Liddonfield site

Upper Holmesburg residents were hoping to learn more exciting details about the new sports fields and low-income senior residences that are planned for the site of the former Liddonfield Homes public housing project.

Instead, with the Philadelphia Housing Authority yet to sign off on the project, the Jan. 19 meeting of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association functioned mainly as a brainstorming session for neighborhood complaints.

Residents said they want to hear directly from PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah to explain the status of the Liddonfield project or from U.S. Rep. Bob Brady to explain what role the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development may have in it.

They also want to hear from someone in the city’s Department of Streets to explain what it’s doing about auto repair shops that conduct their work in the public right of way, and they want to hear from the city or the Delaware River City Corporation about what’s being done to ensure the safety of the new Baxter Trail along the Delaware River.

On the Liddonfield front, UHCA President Stan Cywinski reported that a contract between the housing authority and its would-be purchaser, NewCourtland Senior Services, still awaits PHA approval. In December, City Councilman Bobby Henon announced that Jeremiah had confirmed PHA’s intent to approve a deal that would allow NewCourtland to build a new senior center, housing units for low-income seniors and athletic fields for use by Holy Family University and the community. The Liddonfield site is 32 open acres at Torresdale Avenue and Megargee Street.

Auto repair shops and body shops have become a hot issue in Upper Holmesburg in recent months since the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a local property owner’s plan to operate four auto body painting shops on the same Torresdale Avenue parcel as four apartment units.

Part of the community’s opposition to that proposal involves the high density of auto-related business already in the neighborhood. Some of those shops use public streets and sidewalks to park clients’ cars, according to neighbors. Members of the civic association want to know what laws governing that type of activity and what can be done to enforce them.

On the Baxter Trail, members of the nearby Holmesburg Fish and Game Club see disaster brewing. The new trail connects the city-operated Pennypack on the Delaware Park with Pleasant Hill Park and is part of the North Delaware Greenway. It’s not open to the public yet.

The trail passes near the fish and game club, which is also known as the Holmesburg Gun Club and operates outdoor shooting ranges. Members of the club are concerned that the trail doesn’t offer users enough protection from the shooting range. Further, they argue that it lacks proper lighting, gates or surveillance equipment to ensure user safety. They want to know what law enforcement agency will take responsibility for patrolling the trail. ••