CDAG Board Minutes April 13, 2017, 6:00 PM

Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG) Board Minutes

April 13, 2017, 6:00 PM

Society Hill Towers Community Room – Recorded Attendance Attached

First Draft CDAG Minutes from Irene’s notes

  1. Call to Order and Approval of Minutes 

*Chair Matt Ruben called the meeting to order at 6:15 pm. He informed members that Secretary Nina Zimmer’s husband, Louis Zimmer, died yesterday April 12 and the CDAG Board agreed to send flowers for the memorial service. Irene McNeil volunteered to take meeting notes and transcribe them.

*A Quorum was present and the minutes from the 2017 March Board meeting were approved as submitted. Motioned by Paul Nutaitis, seconded by Dianne Mayer.

*The Chair welcomed Felix Torres-Colon, the new Executive Director of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC). Torres-Colon replaces Sandy Salzman. The Chair also welcomed special meeting guest Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia as well as Janet Kalter (Old City), Marsha Moss (Society Hill) and Frank McAninley (confirm spelling and from which organization if possible).

Officer Reports 

Chair/Vice Chair: See Updates Below. 

Treasurer: Jim Moss reported CDAG’s account balance of $4,400 (Jim will reconfirm). He noted there are late membership dues and that he will follow up with the members in question. 

Secretary: There is a quorum and the approval of the Minutes was noted.

III. Updates on Waterfront Issues and Projects: Matt Ruben and Joe Schiavo 

*”Festival Pier” site (www.festivalpierphilly.com) at Columbus Blvd near Spring Garden Street: Co-Developers, Jefferson Apartment Group and Haverford Properties, met with the Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC) that controls the site, in November 2016 and late February 2017. DRWC is asking for more changes to the original plan before the project can move forward. The building architect is Cecil Baker & Partners and the landscape architect is Olin. No updates since the last meeting with DRWC.

*”One Water Street” (www.one-water.com) is the building north of/next to Benjamin Franklin Bridge: After paying $3.75M to the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund in lieu of promised affordable housing units, developer PMC Property Group faces more issues. The actual building is already in place and occupied; but, the reality of the finished building does not reflect renderings for certain elements including open public space that were used to qualify for additional height beyond the approved plans. In addition, there is lack of parking within the lot and the One Water Street residents’ cars end up clogging nearby streets and impeding emergency access. Joe Schiavo will follow up with a walk-through and with the City’s Planning Commission.

* “Liberty On the River” is the project on the vacant lot between the Sheet Metal Union building and Comcast:  Developer K4 Associates (contact Jeffrey Kozero) plans to build 2,000 apartments and a hotel with 10 proposed towers. The proposal has generated several community meetings, including a presentation at CDAG, that generated concerns about layout (entrance in particular) and lack of parking. The project is noted without new updates to report.

* Development project on the vacant lot (previously the Foxwoods casino project) between the AAA building and the Comcast building at Reed Street: This property is actually divided in three distinct lots: Developer Bart Blatstein is proposing a residential development on one lot, a Super Wawa with gas station on the second lot, and a Lidl grocery store on the third lot.  There are on-going concerns about the position of the gas station. The project is noted without new updates to report.

*Piers 34 and 35 aka Emerald Piers: The developer Ensemble Group is planning to build a residential high-rise on Pier 34 and a public park on adjoining Pier 35. While the renderings and the details of the project have not officially been made public, the landscape architectural renderings were posted by Philadelphia University at https://www.behance.net/gallery/32180523/Piers-34-35-Philadelphia-PA. For these renderings, Ensemble hired landscape architect Groundswell that generated a special project with Philadelphia University. The project was noted without new updates to report.

* Registered Community Organizations (RCOs): City legislation was introduced to amend RCO regulations:

-The City’s Planning Commission would be able to revoke an RCO’s status for non-compliance;

– Political Wards would have to meet the same regulations as other RCO’s, as opposed to using their status as a substitute;

– Developers would have to announce a project(s) and/or alteration(s) to all neighbors within a complete 300 ft. radius, as opposed to 200 ft. on the same block and opposite side.

*City’s New Zoning Board Chairman: Though not officially announced, there is news the City will appoint former City Councilman Frank DiCicco as the New Zoning Board Chairman. DiCicco was instrumental in creating the Commission that modernized the Zoning Code in 2012.

  1. SPECIAL GUEST: The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, updated CDAG Board on the City’s and the DRWC Penn’s Landing bicycle rules as well as the challenges of enforcement. Ahead of her CDAG presentation, Stuart had talked with Karen Thomson, DRWC Planner/Project Manager and Jeannette Brugger of the City’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems (Otis).

  1. Bicycling Rules

City-Wide: According to the City, bicyclists over the age of 12 are not allowed to ride on the sidewalks, unless there are specific sidewalk-designated bicycle lanes.

Penn’s Landing: Bicycling rules on Penn’s Landing are not governed by the City; but, rather by the Authority governing the space, which is DRWC. The same type of local governance is in place at other Philadelphia parks. According to Stuart’s conversation with DRWC, bicycling on Penn’s Landing is not allowed after 10 am. She was told new outdoor signs were being prepared to better inform bicyclists. Also, she was told DRWC staff is aware of youth bicycling packs that are causing safety problems for pedestrians.

  1. The World of Bicycle Packs and Stunt Bicycling

Teenagers in bicycling packs are the main stunt riders. The advent of social media has propelled some of the stunt bicyclists to local, national and international fame. Top bicycle manufacturers cater to stunt bicyclists and offer free equipment.

While skateboarding parks are available, there are fewer parks to practice and show off bicycle stunts. Note from Irene: some skateboard parks are welcoming BMX bicyclists. BMX stands for bicycle motocross and they are used for off-road racing and stunt riding.

  1. Risky Behavior of Bicycle Packs and of Stunt Bicycling

The stunt bicyclists put themselves at risk as well as undermine the safety of nearby pedestrians and drivers.

Environmental factors: According to news reports, some parents prefer having their children doing risky bicycle stunts and putting themselves and others at risk rather than seeing them committing more serious crimes.

Police are reluctant to chase them because either they – themselves – are ill-equipped and they consider the chase to be a risk for the bicyclists and nearby pedestrians and drivers.

It is difficult to criminalize what bicyclists are doing unless a specific crime is reported. Bicycle injuries and crimes are not always reported and statistics are hard to come by. Note from Irene: In 2015, the City of Philadelphia published a Pedestrian and Bicycle crash report at http://www.phila.gov/health/pdfs/PedestrianBicycleCrashReport.pdf

  1. Prevention
  2. a) The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has created youth bicycle programs to foster healthy bicycling habits and to teach rules of conduct, for instance with the Cadence Youth Cycling Advisory Committee and with the City of Philadelphia-sponsored school bicycling education safety programs.
  3. b) Stuart recommended a continued conversation with DRWC.
  1. Future of Bicycling at Penn’s Landing and the Waterfront

With advent of the I-CAP and the I-95 improvements, designated bike lanes will be put in place and will provide safety for both bicyclists and pedestrians.

  1. Historical Designation of Pennsport Engine 46 Firestation Building

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (PAGP) contacted CDAG for support in preserving the Pennsport Engine 46 fire station building, located at 1401 S. Water Street. PAGP has documented the 1894 building, attributed to architect John Windrim, for its architectural significance. The building has a Flemish revival facade and castle-like tower from an era of flamboyant and high-style trappings erected by the City of Philadelphia in the early nineteenth century, making it one of the most iconic buildings in the Pennsport neighborhood. The Preservation Alliance has initiated a formal request to the Philadelphia Historical Commission to nominate and list the building on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The 24-page application, including photos, was officially received by the Commission on March 9, 2017 and is available for viewing at http://www.phila.gov/historical/Documents/1401-S-Water-St-nomination.pdf The Preservation will send a draft of the support letter to CDAG for its signature and will confirm the date of the upcoming review meeting at the Historical Commission.

  1. Old Business 

* I-CAP City Funding

Board members received a copy of the letter from CDAG Chair Matt Ruben to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney praising him for “your vision and leadership in calling for $90 million of City funds to be invested in the capping of a portion of I-95 along the Central Delaware Waterfront.” Board members thanked Matt Ruben.

* Review of Proposed Bylaws amendments following the March CDAG meeting on Member Policies

The Board reviewed the wording of the most recent draft of the CDAG by-laws amendment regarding “Article IV – Constituent organizations” as follows:

It was noted that the previous month’s (March) draft update of the By-Laws, at C1 “That Civic Associations constitute at least 75 % of Board Membership” was NOT in fact the correct percentage, which was 60%, and that the 75% referred only to the vote required for new or restored membership. The typo would be corrected and be noted retroactively for March. To confirm the correct wording, here is the updated text:

  1. Organizations May Seek Membership on the Board. Subject to the limitations following, an organization may become a Constituent Organization of CDAG upon an affirmative vote of 75% of the total voting membership of the Board after consideration of the recommendation of the Membership Committee following the organization’s completion of the Board’s Procedures for New or Restored Membership.  The following additional conditions apply:
  1.   Limitation To Assure That Civic Associations Constitute at Least 60% of Board Membership.  No application for membership by a non-civic association will be considered if its approval would result in the percentage of civic associations on the Board becoming less than 60% of the total membership of the Board.

After reviewing the updated By-Laws, the Amendments were approved unanimously. Motioned by Joe Schiavo, seconded by Dianne Mayer.

  1. New Business

*  “Reed Estates” is the project on the site of the Freda Meats building at Front Street, near Reed: Billboard mogul and developer Dominick Cipollini plans to build twenty-six 3-storey 3 bedroom single-family homes with US Construction and JKRP Architects. There is considerable community opposition to the mega billboard Cipollini plans to install atop the residential building. The proposed billboard size (120 ft high) with digital lighting is meant for I-95 passing cars; however, it would also affect a large swath of the community. The group Scenic Philadelphia has spearheaded the billboard opposition campaign that has generated meetings, a petition and local news.

* “Piers 12, 13-15, 19 and 24” North of Benjamin Franklin Bridge, currently used by Dave & Buster’s, Hibachi, and Morgan’s Pier, have been sold by DRWC. As reported in the news, developer Durst Organization described the project as a long-term hold for an eventual apartment complex. Durst will let current commercial leases expire without amendments. Other than the sales announcement itself, no updates were reported.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 pm.