Water department has big plans for Mayfair, Holmesburg

Philadelphia Water Department representatives spoke about a major stormwater plan at the Nov. 18 Mayfair Civic meeting.

Water works: Hailey Stern, of the Philadelphia Water Department, speaks to residents during the Mayfair Civic Association meeting. The project covers the area bounded roughly by Wellington Street and Solly Avenue between Rowland Avenue and Torresdale Avenue. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

A portion of Mayfair and Holmesburg is being targeted for one of the Philadelphia Water Department’s largest stormwater projects.

Representatives from PWD showed neighbors at the Nov. 18 Mayfair Civic Association meeting a map with dozens of markers showing where the department plans to install curb extensions, tree trenches and underground storage basins.

“This is the biggest concentration of green infrastructure that we’ll be building,” said Hailey Stern, an outreach specialist for PWD, adding that a similar-sized project is also planned for Lawncrest.

The project covers the area bounded roughly by Wellington Street and Solly Avenue between Rowland Avenue and Torresdale Avenue.

Construction on most aspects of the plan is still more than a year away, Stern said, though work has begun on parts of Rowland and Crispin Street.

PWD is making the stormwater improvements part of its citywide “Green City, Clean Waters” program, which is aiming to significantly reduce sewage overflows. Stern said the undertaking is required by state and federal law.

In areas with combined sewers, when it rains, raw sewage overflows into the Delaware River, Pennypack Creek and other local waterways, Stern said. 

On the east side of Roosevelt Boulevard, most of the Northeast south of Pennypack Creek has a combined sewer system. West of the Boulevard, the combined sewer system is restrained primarily to the southside of Cottman Avenue.

Much of the talk at the civic meeting was about the curb extensions, also called bump-outs. They are designed to capture stormwater before it hits the drain.

A few residents, including Mayfair Civic President Donny Smith, worried the bump-outs could eliminate a lot of parking spots on residential streets.

Stern said the bump-outs will be going mainly on the corners of blocks, where it is illegal to park. It’s not clear how many, if any, parking spaces will be absorbed by the project, she said.

A major part of the plan involves transforming the 3300, 3400 and 3500 blocks of Oakmont Street. PWD is considering a number of options for different styles of medians for the street. A community hearing on that specific aspect of the project will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Philadelphia Ghana SDA Church, 7501 Frankford Ave.

Stern said PWD will return to future meetings with more details and final designs as construction nears.

BID update

Marc Collazzo, executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District, updated residents on several developments on Frankford Avenue.

A dim sum restaurant and tea garden will be moving into the former 7-Eleven at 6401 Frankford Ave. sometime next year, and Popeyes has signed a letter of intent to open at the old Subway at Frankford and Harbison avenues, he said.

Collazzo said Mayfair Market, a new grocery store, was scheduled to open Monday, Nov. 25, at the former Shop N Bag at the shopping center located on the 6400 block of Frankford Avenue.

Zoning issues

Smith said he signed a community benefits agreement on behalf of the civic association with the School District of Philadelphia regarding the new K-8 school planned for the area behind Abraham Lincoln High School.

However, the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Nov. 6 approved variances for the project without incorporating the CBA as a proviso, Smith said.

Smith said the district has agreed to honor the deal, previously reported on by the Times, but the civic is trying to figure out if ZBA needs to reclassify the CBA as a proviso or if it can remain as a separate agreement. 

Members at the Nov. 18 meeting approved two separate zoning applications involving the same property, a shopping center at 6501-95 Roosevelt Blvd.

The first was for the installation of a Bank of America ATM in the center’s parking lot, and the other was a permit for a sign for Batteries Plus Bulbs.

Batteries Plus Bulbs will be relocating from its current store at 2118 Cottman Ave. for increased visibility, the franchise owner said at the meeting.

Christmas events

Mayfair will host a Christmas village and tree-lighting from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, at Cottman and Frankford avenues. It will feature live music, vendors and Santa. Local rocker Mike LeCompt will light the tree at dusk.

The Mayfair Christmas Decoration Contest is returning, and nominations for rowhomes, single, twin and corner houses, and businesses are encouraged. Submit properties at mayfaircivicassociation@yahoo.com or through the civic’s Facebook page.

Three winners in each category will be awarded prizes on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

The Mayfair Civic Association’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at the Mayfair Community Center, St. Vincent and Battersby streets. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com.