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Fairmount Civic Association Meeting Addresses Voter Turnout, Trolley Route Construction

The Fairmount Civic Association (FCA) held its monthly meeting May 25th at the City School (860 N. 24th Street).  This month’s agenda included announcements from City Commissioner Lisa Deely and a representative from the Vision Zero Task Force, along with updates on construction to the route 15 trolley tracks, development near the Rodin Museum, zoning and a few local gardening contests—followed by an open forum.

/Sean Kearney

/Sean Kearney

City Commissioner Lisa Deely, sworn-in as of 2016, kicked off the meeting by talking about the most recent local election on May 16th. “We could not get our elections off the ground without citizens taking part, so thank you,” Deely said. Deely proposed raising the wages of election workers in Philadelphia, as the last wage increase occurred in 1999.

Deely also spoke about how city commissioners are currently exploring a trial period in which students could work on election day. The crux of Deely’s interest, as she put it, is increasing participation in local elections. Fairmount’s 15th Ward, according to Deely, turned out quite well for the past election.

“You guys have the magic here in the 15th ward. Your turnout, especially on Tuesday [May 16th], was exceptional. It nearly doubled the city-wide turnout,” Deely said. Voter turnout across Philadelphia was 17%, whereas voter turnout in the 15th ward was around 25%. “We can’t have such a small amount of people deciding who will be serving in our elected offices.”

Deely left her information at the sign-in table of the meeting and encouraged everyone to talk to her about any ideas they have about increasing voter turnout across the city. If you would like to contact Commissioner Deely, you can find contact information for her and other City Commissioners at https://www.philadelphiavotes.com/en/contact-us.

City Councilman William Greenlee then gave an update on the state of construction on the route 15 trolley. The first leg of work will be from Corinthian to Broad streets on Girard Avenue. College Avenue will remain open. During that time, the 15 route will run as a bus going eastbound on Poplar Street and running westbound from Master Street into Ridge Avenue.

Kelley Yemen of the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (OTIS) gave an update on the lane changes on Pennsylvania Avenue. Yemen, a resident of Fairmount, spoke about a new city initiative calling for the formation of the Vision Zero Task Force, a group created via executive order from Mayor Jim Kenney that strives to use data collected on traffic and traffic related accidents to make Philadelphia streets safer.

More specific to the neighborhood, Yemen informed the crowd about road repaving, which will be beginning on Pennsylvania Avenue where it meets Spring Garden and stretching to 26th Street. Along with the repaving, a new turning lane would be added at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue, 24th and Green Streets. The project, while billed as a proposal, seemed to already be in the works. Yemen and other meeting-goers also expressed concern over cars parking in the bike lanes stretching down Fairmount Avenue.

It was also announced  that a developer had acquired the land in the lot across from Whole Foods Market at 21st and Hamilton Streets. The developer is proposing a new condominium project to go in that spot. According to FCA President Larry Reynolds, this is the fourth or fifth time rumblings of that area being developed have come up recently.

The meeting then moved to the open forum portion. One neighborhood resident announced a meeting at the Free Library of Philadelphia for the non-partisan group Fair Districts PA, a group charged with combatting gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. Their next meeting and info-session will be on May 31st. Also announced was the Flowering Fronts of Fairmount contest, in which the most attractive front facade wins. The Flowering Fronts of Fairmount Contest is open to all Fairmount residents who beautify the fronts of their homes and registration is available from May 1st to June 15th.

The next Fairmount Civic Association meeting will be held on June 28th at Eastern State Penitentiary at 7PM. If you would like to find out more about FCA events or want to become a member, visit http://www.fairmountcivicassociation.org/.

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