GREENHILL FARMS CIVIC ASSOCIATION
WINTER MEETING OVERVIEW
The Winter Meeting of the Greenhill Farms Civic Association was held on Sunday, January 26, 2020 from 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the Overbrook Presbyterian Church. Below is a brief recap of the proceedings.
Gretchen Bedford presided over the meeting and introduced Mary Rose Cunningham as the incoming President of the GFCA Board of Directors.
City of Philadelphia Streets Department
Officer Phillip Gordon of the Streets Department addressed the group in response to an outreach from the GFCA Board of Directors relating to community concerns over recycling, trash disposal and street sweeping.
Officer Gordon began by reminding the group that the dynamics of recycling have changed so that the City, rather than being able to sell its recyclable materials, must now pay to dispose of them. This has necessarily put renewed focus on the “dos and don’ts” of recycling. A significant issue from the City’s point of view is contamination, i.e., recycled items that are not cleaned of food or liquid debris or items that are more appropriate for trash disposal. Contamination, among other things, affects the city’s sorting procedures and has led to the City being required under its most recent contract to pay additional monies to make its base recycling acceptable. The group was reminded that recyclables do not need to be sorted and separated. Acceptable recycling consists of cartons, jars. bottles and “mixed paper” (newspapers, magazines, junk mail, phone books, plastic containers, etc.) Cardboard items flattened and (optimally ) tied are also recyclable, although Officer Gordon emphasized the undesirability of putting cardboard out under rainy conditions. The Streets Department is also enforcing – on pain of a $50.00 fine – the requirement that recyclables be contained in the official City-issued “blue boxes” or an equivalent which, according to Officer Gordon, can be any rigid container of approximately the same dimensions. The City is providing new recycle bins on which are printed instructions and a phone number. These are free to citizens and can be acquired at the City’s several trash centers as per philagov.com
Officer Gordon also spoke to issues around trash. The City needs trash to be disposed of in 32-inch regulation cans with lids. Mattresses will be picked up but only if encased in plastic. (This is a protection against bedbug infestation.) Wild animals are also a problem; Officer Gordon urged residents to see that pet food containers be kept indoors since these tend to attract raccoons, opossum, skunks and rats which, in turn can scatter trash.
In response to an inquiry, Officer Gordon acknowledged that the City is instituting a pilot program regarding street-sweeping.
Finally, Officer Gordon asked residents to be aware of how difficult the trash collectors’ jobs are and to be tolerant of an occasional missed or scattered item.
Friends of Morris Park
Evan Cantiello addressed the group to report on the revival of Friends of Morris Park (FMOP), a group dedicated to the continuing improvement of Morris Park, which makes up three of Greenhill Farm’s three borders. (See, friendsofmorrispark.org.) In recent years, this organization, which at one time was responsible for a massive clean-up of the Park, the construction and maintenance of a bridge over Indian Creek and the laying of a network of trails in the Park (these are mapped on FOMP’s website), has become moribund. Mr. Cantiello and other volunteers are now in the process of revitalizing the organization through recruitment of new Board members, reinstatement of its 401© (3) status, collaboration with the City Parks Department and other community partners. FMOP is looking for new board members and is soliciting the views of GFCA members (among others) on Morris Park-related projects including repair of the Indian Creek bridge. Residents then raised several points/suggestions including the possibility of a dog park on the 72nd Street part of the Park and the status of the City’s former practice of mowing the meadow in that part of the Park.
192nd Legislative District – Representative Morgan Cephas
Representative Cephas spoke to the residents at some length. She pointed out that the 192nd is a microcosm of Philadelphia, with $500,00.00 homes in parts of the District yet suffering from a 44% poverty rate.
In addition to constituent services, Representative Cephas’ focus in Harrisburg is on certain specific issues, including gun violence (she has participated in obtaining a $500,000.00 grant for a pilot project study of this problem), lack of stable home ownership, maternal mortality, and dignity for incarcerated women.
There was a sustained back-and-forth with Representative Cephas about the status of Schools in the City and in our locale. She pointed out that the District encompasses two high schools, Overbook High and the Science and Leadership Academy. In addition, two elementary schools in the district, Gompers and Cassidy, are not performing well. Ms. Cephas expressed some frustration with efforts to partner with St. Joseph’s University over schools in Overbrook. The University ostensibly has partnered with Gompers, but in the Representative’s opinion, this partnership has been superficial only. What is necessary, in her view, is an investment by St. Joe’s in Overbrook and Wynnefield akin to the University of Pennsylvania’s involvement in the eastern portions of West Philadelphia; this is something she will be working on the in the coming year.
Ms. Cephas is also concerned about Overbrook High, which now only enrolls 500 students, as opposed to 2,000 just a few years ago. She believes that leadership at Overbrook has recently improved, but is interested in the feasibility of reorienting the School more toward job skills preparation in an effort to increase enrollment and expand use of the building into the evening hours, all as part of improving Overbrook High’s role as a community anchor.
Representative Cephas heartily endorsed views expressed by several the attendees that the lack of good schools is holding back the City generally and Overbrook particularly in terms of attracting younger families, protecting property values and enlarging the tax base.
Tommy McCann of the Penn State Extension Service provided an overview of the alarming spread of this invasive pest which arrived in Berks County from China in 2014 and due to the absence of natural predators, has rapidly spread to large swaths of Eastern Pennsylvania and other parts of the northeastern U.S.
The egg mass/instar/nymph/adult stages of the insects were explained. Using slides, Mr. McCann pointed out the accretion of egg masses; these masses should be scraped off any trees on which they are seen. The intensity of the infestation is great; when the egg masses mature, the adults feed on the leaves and sap of a tree. They then emit a kind of “honeydew” mist which falls to the ground and inhibits photosynthesis, thereby damaging and ultimately killing infected trees, as well as serving as a locus for fungus, mold and other potentially harmful insects. Although the Spotted Lanternfly seems attracted to trees with palmate compound leaves, the insect has been relatively non-discriminating in terms of the types of foliage it will attack. Particularly at risk are Pennsylvania’s multimillion-dollar apple and rape crops. Residents were directed to the Extension’s website at extension.psu.edu/spottedlantern-fly for further details.
Jim Baker reported that he is working with Councilman Jones’ office to develop a comprehensive plan for traffic management in our neighborhood. This plan, when ready, will be reviewed not only with those living on Sherwood Road but the rest of the community as well.
Jennifer Caviglia, GFCA’s Treasurer, reminded everyone that 2020 dues at $30 per household were being collected. Payment can also be made on Venmo. There are currently 53 member families in GFCA. Ms. Caviglia also advised that as in prior years GFCA has obtained a $1,000.00 grant through Councilman Curtis’ Jones’ office.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:55 P.M.
 “Philly Is Incinerating Half of Recycling – And Its partly Your Fault”, Philadelphia Magazine, March 8, 2019. Since this article appeared, the City has entered into a new contract and total recycling has resumed.