City Council members address Fox Chase neighbors

City Council members Brian O’Neill and Al Taubenberger addressed the Fox Chase Town Watch and Homeowners Association at their April meeting.

Taubenberger

Fox Chase neighbors heard from two City Council members, Northeast Victim Services, police and more in a packed April Fox Chase Town Watch and Homeowners Association meeting.

Councilman Brian O’Neill talked about plans to upgrade the Fox Chase Playground, which are supposed to begin this spring. O’Neill said the playground courts were in “terrible” shape despite being less than 20 years old due to skimping on materials used to construct them. He vowed the new courts will be done with the same quality of the “’40s and ’50s.”

“Hopefully, we’ll see something good by the time school gets out or right afterwards,” he said.

O’Neill addressed the city budget, which added $2.5 million more to the Free Library system’s budget, but was criticized for not adding more. When asked, O’Neill said he believed more money should be allotted into the system. Supporters were asking for $15 million.

When a neighbor asked about tax increases, O’Neill said he’s never voted for a real estate tax increase.

“I have the guts to have never voted for a [real estate tax increase],” he said. “Which in my group down there, it takes more guts to vote no than yes.”

O’Neill

O’Neill also commended the organizations on the lack of recent “hot zoning cases” at the Homeowners Association, saying there used to be more over the years.

“It means people are being told you don’t want to waste your time with Fox Chase Homeowners, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

Taubenberger, a Fox Chase resident, briefly addressed the crowd. He recently held a meeting about evacuation plans in retirement homes and apartment houses with a significant senior citizen population. Taubenberger passed out pamphlets with contact information, in addition to giving out his personal cell phone number to everyone in attendance.

The associations also heard from Colleen Costello, a representative from Northeast Victim Service, a nonprofit that helps victims of crime who live or have been victimized in the Northeast. They work with the 2nd, 7th, 8th and 15th police districts to help identify victims of scams they can provide aid to. They can help with medical bills, loss of earnings and more.

“We’re a liaison between the victim, the DA’s office, the Philadelphia Police Department and the federal program located in Harrisburg,” she said.

Costello advised the group on three different crimes affecting seniors. Victims of lottery scams are called and told they won the lottery, but that they will have to pay an initial price to receive the winnings. Costello said over the course of a few months, an individual lost $100,000 total to a lottery scam.

Other scams involve getting phone calls claiming the victim has a computer virus, and they must purchase iTunes or Google gift cards and send in the codes to get the virus off their computer. Another newer scam is an imposter contacting victims pretending to be a local church pastor saying there is a parishioner with cancer, and the only way for that person to get relief is for you to send in iTunes gift cards.

There is also the grandparent scheme. Scammers call and say the only way to get their grandchild out of trouble following a made-up accident is to send in iTunes gift card codes.

Victims are typically older and live by themselves, Costello said.

“Never send any money,” she said.

Costello also urged any victims to file police reports or else the scamming will be able to continue.

In a crime update from police, Officer Joe Staszak said there was an aggravated assault that resulted in an arrest, three thefts from autos and a thief breaking into coin-operated machines at apartment complexes and Laundromats was arrested.

On May 15, police will hold a benefit at Mazhu Axes, an axe-throwing site at 9806 Bustleton Ave. Cost of entry is $10 and everything inside is free. Food including Mission BBQ will be provided. The event will run from 6 to 10 p.m.

Meetings are held the second Wednesday every month. The next meeting will take place May 8 at 7976 Oxford Ave. ••