Lorimer Trail extension discussed at meeting

A busy Fox Chase meeting discussed concerns over the Lorimer walking and biking trail, crime in the area and more.

He’s moving on: Fox Chase Homeowners Association vice president Matt Braden (center) announced he will be leaving the association at the end of the Nov. 8 meeting. President George Bezanis (left) and past president Craig Turner joined him in saying goodbye. Source: Mike Bobby / Supplied Photo

After Fox Chase Homeowner’s Association and Town Watch’s quiet meeting last month, the Nov. 8 meeting more than made up for it.

The packed meeting was the last for Homeowner Association’s vice president Matt Braden, who had previously served as president.

“This community is an awesome community,” he said at the meeting’s close. “There’s a reason why trails are being built and there’s a reason why police and Council members come here to talk. It’s because they know this neighborhood holds itself accountable because people care about this neighborhood.”

The meeting’s liveliest discussion came during a presentation for the Lorimer Trail extension, which has been in preparation for at least five years. The walking and bicycling trail will stretch on the old SEPTA line from Rhawn Street to the Montgomery County line.

The tracks will be removed and replaced with crushed stone.

There are also tentative plans to install a new traffic signal and crosswalk at the start of the trail at Rhawn Street close to the Fox Chase station, though plans are not finalized.

An official from SEPTA said the transit agency would like to install a bike shelter that has been successfully implemented in other areas of the city. Overgrown vegetation on the trail will be removed and maintained.

The project is projected to be completed by late 2019 or early 2020. Track removal will begin this winter.

Rob Armstrong of the Parks and Recreation department said a trail access point that had been planned on Burholme Avenue will not be constructed due to resistance from nearby residents.

“It’s been our experience, people who are doing illegitimate things go somewhere else,” Armstrong said.

Braden spoke in favor of the trail, saying evidence has shown for decades that trails improve communities.

“Community after community after community has found that it’s an enhancement to the community,” Braden said. “It improves quality of life, it improves property values, and it decreases crime because an abandoned rail line is an open invitation to crime.”

In other news, this month marks 23 years since Eddie Polec’s murder, and Town Watch president Steve Phillips reminded neighbors to call the police if they see anything suspicious.

Capt. Thomas McLean of the 2nd Police District visited to give crime updates in the area and differentiate between fact and rumor.

A robbery took place at the Taco Bell, located at 7855 Oxford Ave., on Friday, Nov. 3, when a group of kids beat up another group of kids and stole their phones. McLean said he was able to identify all four of the kids through surveillance video.

He also talked about an assault on Halloween night, which took place among other crimes that divided the district’s resources. A kid was knocked out by a group of kids and didn’t get a good look at the culprits, but luckily there are other ways of finding them.

“Kids are brazen, they put everything out there on social media,” McLean said.

He said they were able to find the culprit based on a picture he posted on social media of his knuckles after he hit the kid.

There were also five residential burglaries on Monday, Nov. 6. McLean said one complainant chased the suspect down and got video the police are using.

Violent crime is down about 10 percent, with a 15-percent decline in gun robberies and a 22-percent drop in residential burglaries. McLean said last year was a 10-year low in residential burglaries, and they’re beating that number again this year.

In other news:

• Councilman Al Taubenberger was in attendance and discussed house squatters in Philadelphia. He said squatters enter people’s homes with fake leases and change the locks. Police cannot easily prove that the leases are fake, and the average person has to wait six to eight weeks to get their house back. Taubenberger said he and other Council representatives are working to update the law to address the issue.

• Pastor David Ryan of the Fox Chase United Methodist Church attended the meeting to discuss issues with property owned by the church at 7942 Burholme Ave. The property was illegally being used as a senior care center after being rented out as a residential property in May, unbeknownst to the pastor. The people renting the place left within a week of the pastor visiting and telling them it was illegal to run a business at the property.

• Phillips told neighbors he updates only the website, foxchasetownwatch.org, and not the Facebook page.

• Due to Braden stepping down, the Homeowner’s Association is looking to hire more people to its executive board. For more information, visit foxchasehomeowners.org ••