Wawa project splits East Torresdale, Upper Holmesburg

East Torresdale Civic Association members were critical of their neighboring civic’s handling of a planned Wawa at Frankford and Academy.

The East Torresdale Civic Association meets at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on the second Monday of every month. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Neighbors don’t always get along.

Last week’s East Torresdale Civic Association meeting devolved into a squabble between residents and Stan Cywinski, longtime president of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association.

Cywinski was at the meeting because he works part-time for Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon, who has been an ETCA target for his perceived bias in handling ongoing disputes between neighbors and Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe.

ETCA members at the Dec. 9 meeting took issue with the way the UHCA handled a proposal to build a Wawa with a gas station at Frankford Avenue and Academy Road. 

They believe Henon and UHCA kept ETCA in the dark as zoning for the Morrissey site, where the Wawa is going, was changed from residential to commercial to facilitate the plan. Cywinski said his civic had nothing to do with the change.

Moreover, the sides got into an argument over boundaries, as ETCA members claimed 9101 Frankford Ave. is in East Torresdale, while Cywinski maintained it is in Upper Holmesburg.

The civic boundaries overlap in the area, according to a city map. In that case, the district councilperson picks the coordinating registered community organization. 

East Torresdale residents also criticized Cywinski for cutting a deal with Wawa.

“We don’t take money,” ETCA board member Adge Martin said. “We just fight it.”

In an interview, Cywinski said Wawa has agreed to spruce up the triangle at Frankford and Academy with a plaque and flag dedicated to local veterans. There have also been ongoing discussions about building a playground for kids with special needs.

It’s a community benefits agreement, not a bribe, he said. In addition, Cywinski said UHCA members were enthusiastic in their support for the Wawa.

Cywinski said he has not received any recent updates on Wawa’s construction timeline.

Fitler Street project approved

ETCA board member Rich Paul informed residents that the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a permit for the construction of a house at 5021 Fitler St. 

In May, neighbors voted narrowly to oppose the project, citing concerns about stormwater build-up and what they believe to be an overcrowded private sewer system.

For the past several months, ETCA members have discussed the private sewer, and some residents have been looking to form a homeowners association to control access to the system and maintenance.

Paul urged neighbors to organize the group soon if they hope to have a say in whether the new house on Fitler Street will be allowed to connect to the sewer.

Other notes

Glen Foerd board member Bernadette Lidell said she is not happy that no holiday-themed activities are planned at the historic mansion, which she said is typically the “hub of the holiday season” for families in the community.

Lidell said she has been assured events will be planned next year.

ETCA’s current board was elected to another one-year term.

The group’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 9601 Frankford Ave. Jeannette Brugger, of the city Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, is scheduled to speak about a repaving project on State Road. ••