Holmesburg Coalition holds visionary meeting

Participants were given large maps and asked to use stickers to identify neighborhood strengths, weaknesses, barriers and opportunities.

The Holmesburg Coalition met Friday night at New Foundations Charter Elementary School in what was the first of three visioning meetings.

The meeting was led by Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion CEO John Cambridge and Holmesburg Civic Association president Tara Gontek.

Participants were given large maps and asked to use stickers to identify neighborhood strengths, weaknesses, barriers and opportunities.

There were plenty of stickers for strengths, including Pennypack Park, the Dining Car, Ashburner Inn, St. Dominic Church, Holmesburg Bakery, Holmesburg Library, the Insectarium, Al’s Corner Deli, Boy Scout troops, the upcoming development at the old Liddonfield Homes housing project, access to I-95 and a nearby SEPTA train station.

As for weaknesses, the big one seemed to be rampant drug sales east of Torresdale Avenue, between Russo Park and Decatur Street. There were also concerns about what some see as the unsightly strip mall and apartment buildings on Frankford Avenue, just south of Solly Avenue. There were complaints about the lack of a supermarket, now that Pathmark is closed. Several people pointed to an odor coming from a topsoil and mulch production facility on Torresdale Avenue.

Barriers that were cited included a belief by some that the Northeast is not needy. Residents suggested signage to make more people aware of Pennypack on the Delaware. The old Holmesburg Prison, some believe, could be put to better use, such as a haunted house during Halloween season.

The crowd was asked to submit opportunities of any kind. Among the suggestions were an axe-throwing facility, lighting, a beer garden, plays and a Renaissance fair at the historic bridge at Frankford and Solly.

The Holmesburg Coalition will meet again on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.

In other news from the meeting:

• The Holmesburg Community Development Corporation will hold an art show fundraiser on Friday, March 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, 8046 Frankford Ave. There will be live music by SB Deluxe. The Grey Lodge Pub and SawTown Tavern will be pouring beers. To make a donation, go to https://www.youcaring.com/holmesburgcdc-1112015

• The Holmesburg Community Development Corporation will hold an extended happy hour on Friday, April 6, from 6 to 10 p.m. at SawTown Tavern, 4717 Princeton Ave. Historian and filmmaker Jason Sherman will host Historic Northeast Philadelphia Trivia. The evening will feature drink specials and a preview of SawTown’s new menu items. The party will continue when DJ Justin kicks off karaoke at 10 p.m.

• The Holmesburg Civic Association welcomes people to register for a free yard tree. Trees will be given away on Sunday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, 8046 Frankford Ave. To register, go to https://holmesburg.ticketleap.com/treegiveaway

• City Councilman Bobby Henon will hold a forum on the city budget on Wednesday, April 25, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at St. Jerome School, 3031 Stamford St. To register, call 215–683–9220 or visit goo.gl/xMHyhU ••