The Winter Meeting of the Greenhill Farms Civic Association was held on Sunday, January 28, 2018 at the Overbrook Presbyterian Church.

The meeting was opened by Trudy Sheau, current President of the GFCA Board of Directors, who introduced current Board Members, Sherry Pirillo, Gretchen Bedford, Gladys Wallis, Grace Burns, Mary Rose Cunningham, Cheryl Wecksler, Tom Boggia, Philip Hawkins, Jennifer Caviglia and Steve Johnson. Ms. Sheau once again invited interested members to join the Board and/or to assist with planning the 2018 Block Party.

Ms. Sheau reminded community members that payment of dues for 2018 (and arrearages for 2017, if any) could be made to Ms. Pirillo at the reception desk, to Ms. Caviglia at her residence or via the PayPal feature at the website. (An explanation and demonstration of the PayPal feature on the website was provided later in the meeting.)

Mr. Johnson, as Board Secretary, made a brief presentation regarding GFCA’s Mission Statement, copies of which were made available at the meeting. Mr. Johnson also spoke to how the members of the community might want GFCA to accomplish this mission.

Ms. Sheau next introduced State Representative Morgan Cephas, whose legislative district, the 192nd, encompasses Greenhill Farms. Ms. Cephas opened by thanking Greenhill Farms residents for their interest and level of involvement with her office’s activities on behalf of the residents of the 192nd District. She noted that in 2017, her first in office, the 192nd District Office relocated to 5921 Lancaster Avenue and that through that office, some 3500 constituents were served in 2017. Included in her constituent services facilities are mobile offices in the form of specially scheduled meetings at sites throughout the District. During 2017 and on into 2018, Ms. Cephas’ office has secured more than $1 million in funding for discrete projects within the District.

Briefly addressed by Ms. Cephas, who is a member of the Black Caucus in the General Assembly, were several ongoing issues on which she will be focusing in the upcoming year. These include:

– Continued attention to “green spaces” issues
– Continued coordination with the new Philadelphia Police Department Captain, particularly as related to problems around so-called “Stop & Go” stores operating as illicit liquor and gambling sites
– Trying to identify areas of cooperation with the Republican majority in the House, notwithstanding their generally negative attitudes toward the City of Philadelphia
– Coordinating with the city Health Department and License and Inspections
– Addressing “Me, Too” issues as respects low wage and undocumented workers
– Opposing and/or seeking changes to any tax legislation tending to exacerbate tax structures that are already unfavorable to City residents, noting that tax liens and foreclosures are on the rise in the City

Ms. Cephas responded to several questions from community members concerning diverse topics including the opioid epidemic, the continuing soda tax controversy, initiatives to end property taxes in Pennsylvania and the status of a proposed amendment to the state constitution to remedy perceived tax inequities in the commonwealth.

At the close of her remarks, Representative Cephas thanked GFCA for its support and interest and made note of an upcoming West Philadelphia Town Meeting on January 31st at Sayre Elementary School and an appearance by Governor Wolf at St. Joseph’s University at 2:00 p.m. on January 30th.

Following Ms. Cephas’ remarks, Ms. Caviglia provided an overview of GFCA’s finances. She indicated that GFCA’s account balance is currently at approximately $5800.00 and that in 2017 56 families out the neighborhood’s 140 paid dues. In response to questions, Ms. Caviglia and other Board members confirmed that in recent years these numbers represented a significant improvement in community participation in GFCA, a generally encouraging development. The audience was advised that in 2017, as in prior years, the Block Party was the single biggest organizational expenditure, offset to some degree by a grant from the City orchestrated through Councilman Curtis Jones’ office, as well as a contribution from United States Congressman Bob Brady, a Greenhill Farms resident and GFCA member.

Gretchen Bedford next provided a year in review of GFCA events including the components of the Block Party, the Winter and Fall community meetings, the MLK Day of Service clean-up, the community Yard Sale in the Fall. As to the MLK Day clean-up, Ms. Bedford thanked everyone who participated and noted that a good “dent” had been made in the part of Morris Park adjacent to 72nd Street.

A presentation on GFCA-based social media was provided by Board member and webmaster Philip Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins walked members step-by-step through features of the website including various neighborhood views, photos of recent community activities (e.g., the Block Party and MLK Day clean-ups), information pertaining to the history of Greenhill Farms, local services vendors’ contact information, and an events calendar, as well as the PayPal dues link. Ms. Bedford supplemented Mr. Hawkins’ presentation by reminding everyone of the GFCA Facebook site and demonstrated access to it, as well as to the GFCA Google Groups listserv/service. Ms. Bedford also pointed out the information-specific aspects (gender, income property values, etc.) of a website named as concerns the 19151 zip code.

Community comments were invited. Several people commented on their appreciation of the diversity, quiet, attractiveness and neighborliness of Greenhill Farms. These comments were counterbalanced somewhat by complaints about and a discussion of the ongoing issues with speed and general noncompliance of traffic through the neighborhood. Ms. Caviglia advised that she is fronting an initiative to get sufficient signatures from Sherwood Road residents to trigger a City traffic study re: the feasibility of snowplow-friendly “speed bumps” such as recently have been installed in certain Northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Community member Rob Bedford reminded the audience of the opportunity to attend Police Service Area community meetings which take place at St. Thomas Church in Overbrook Farms place every fourth Thursday evening of the month. These meetings are open to all. Ms. Sheau noted that Mr. Bedford is a regular attendee at these meetings and has provided the community with very useful summaries of the content of these meetings.

Finally, community members were reminded that the 2018 Block Party will be held on the afternoon of May 19th on 71st Street, on the block immediately below Sherwood Road.

Respectfully submitted,

Steve Johnson
Secretary, GFCA Board of Directors