EFCC RECAP: New Candidates, Old Business, Suspicious Minds

Last EFCC recap before Summer break! A run-down of candidates for Falls’s election, and a copy of their “Memorandum” with PhillyU. PLUS — pointed questions and accusations about the Traffic Committee by an irate “Apalogean” (and kinda supported by our archives. D’oh!).

EastFallslocal meeting snapshot june 2016 Summer wrap up see you in sept Speedbumps what speedbumps

Wow June’s EFCC general meeting zipped by in record time, barely an hour! Everyone seemed ready to wrap till September — us included, to be honest. It’s been a lonnnnng ten months.

You may recall from last month that EFCC did not have a roster of candidates for their usual year-end election. So this meeting, they announced names for a Fall election. Council also handed out their four-page “Memorandum of Understanding” for PhillyU, and then some dude vigorously called out the Traffic Committee, and it seems he has a point. Shall we..?

EastFallsLocal election committee txt

First, elections. The three (appointed) EFCC members in charge of presenting the year’s election ballot announced the following candidates for officers & Executive Board At-Large positions for 2016-17:

PRESIDENT:  Bill Epstein
1st VP/ZONING: Todd Baylson
2nd VP/EVENTS: Lisa Howdyshell
CORRESPONDING SEC’Y:  Christina Spolosky
RECORDING SEC’Y: Heather Plastaras
TREASURER: Joe Leube

AT-LARGE CANDIDATES (Four positions, determined by the most votes):
John Gillespie
Alex Keating
Emily Nichols
Eric Davenport
Meg Greenfield
Mark Hansen
Brendan Siltman
Ron Smith

After they read off the names, Sue Park (Calumet) nominated Emily Nichols for 1st Vice President, which was quickly seconded. Interesting…

Some folks we spoke with (off the record) feel this year’s roster reflects a swing against the tide of development for EFCC, who had been trying to appeal to younger, more progressive neighbors with plans for a new website and social media that failed to materialize.

There’s a sense Todd is being “ousted” — some speculate, because of Ridge Flats, and PhillyU, two efforts that have recently rolled ahead after years of waiting & negotiating.  No comment on VP from us, all we can say is: *VOTE FOR MEG & BRENDAN!* We need conservative voices now more than ever, with so much development headed our way.  Also, they’re so fun to video!

Onto EFCC’s “Memorandum of Understanding” for Philadelphia University, a hand-out at the meeting, you can read it here:  PAGE 1  –  PAGE 2  –  PAGE 3  –  PAGE 4

EastFallsLocal intro memo TRANSP

The memo covers noise, lighting, landscape buffers, traffic studies and parking, plus also outlines a resolution process in the event of future disputes:

EastFallsLocal resolution process memo drop shadow

At EFCC’s “Emergency” Zoning meeting earlier this month, some residents (including Meg!) expressed concerns that this agreement had “no teeth,” and would be essentially useless if the University failed to properly address grievances. What do you think? Are we sitting ducks for unwanted campus-spread?

SPEEDBUMP SUSPICIONS

Finally, Perry Tishgart’s a speedbump-hating neighbor on Apalogen who wants to know “under whose authority” EFCC’s Traffic Committee advocates for traffic calming measures — specifically a roundabout at Schoolhouse & Henry they floated earlier in the meeting.

“No offense, but making Henry Avenue one way in each direction is… ridiculous!” he tells Bill, who had offered his support for such an idea when Mary Jane Fullam complained about new bike lanes “cropping up” in driving lanes lately, confusing drivers and posing a danger for themselves & others:

Perry was adamant that serious traffic changes are being made to East Falls streets without neighbors input or consent. “The traffic committee in my opinion has run amok,” he said to an audience of about 30 neighbors, “East Falls is an experiment for every cockamamie idea that comes out of this traffic committee.”

He even said the “S” word — as in, SECRET meetings, supposedly going on between EFCC’s traffic committee and officials from Philly’s Streets Dept, and other traffic experts (such as the WHYY expert they’d just reported on this evening).

Bill strongly denied any such behind-the-scenes shenanigans, and Council member Roger Marsh piped up that surely the Schoolhouse/Henry roundabout has been up for discussion at previous meetings.

EastFallsLocal resize ray lucci comment

To the EFL Archives!  We went thru all our meeting recap videos since Fall 2014, and although we found some vague references to roundabouts in a few of John’s Traffic Committee updates, we were unable to pinpoint anytime members were asked to vote or provide opinions on traffic calming. We did, however, find this interesting comment from March 2015 (above) — I’m sure there’s a difference between “not public” and “secret,” right?

We kinda hate the speed cushions, too, Perry. Living at Gypsy and Schoolhouse, we encounter them on a regular basis. And, frankly, makes us nervous to see Meg, Bill, Ray, etc. watching traffic on Henry and pointing… (nothing about this at meetings yet).

EastFallsLocal 5-15 Bill Meg Ray PHOTO FRAME time date drop shadow

Wait, but it’s the CITY who’s put in all the speed bumps here, right?

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER!! 

In the meantime, come on out Thursday 6/16 for the next East Falls Forward meeting  — special guest Lisa Howdyshell, crime analyst with Philly PD (and newest 2nd VP for EFCC — WOOT!), will discuss trends in the Falls and what we can do to avoid becoming a victim.

Bicycle

And don’t miss your chance to win a sweet Fuji beach cruiser. Raffle tickets will be available at the meeting, or you can purchase online here. (Proceeds will help fund a boat dock near Kelly Drive.)

See you there! As always, beer, snacks, and great neighbors!

JUNE MEETING ANNOUNCE.TWEAKED

 

 

 

9 Comments

  • Sean

    It’s meeting reports like these that make me wonder if the EFCC and EFF should split into East Falls East and East Falls West. As someone with a pedestrian-centric lifestyle, anyone looking at the current state of Henry Avenue and thinking “sure, that seems like a safe 4-lane roadway” can only be looking with different eyes than mine (and ignoring recent accident reports). Even with the speedhumps, a jogger has to have their head on a swivel when running near Schoolhouse, as people seem to be gunning it to make up for lost time. Are people going for years in the driveway-car-driveway bubble?

    As an aside, is the uphill sect tired of speedhumps and traffic calming entirely? Well, us down near Ridge would very much appreciate not having to sprint across a crosswalk to cross Ridge and Midvale, just to avoid impatient turners. Or to have any enforcement of the constant illegal uturns on Ridge, wrong-way-K-turning into one ways, because people can’t wait for red lights?

    If East Falls East has just *had* it with the traffic committee attempting to increase the quality of their lives, West would love to have walking down Ridge a contactless sport.

    • Steve Fillmore

      Hey Sean: Good points. Definitely support traffic improvements (never said we’re OK with Henry as it is.) I even think the roundabout idea that Meg has championed in the past at Henry and Schoolhouse should be given a second look because Henry is really such a speedway and too many people have gotten killed on it. So yes, all remedies should be considered.) We’ve had our own traffic run-ins as well — several times cars have ignored the stop sign at Gypsy and Schoolhouse and rolled right into the intersection while we were crossing. (and that’s after people clear the speed cushions) Our point isn’t to argue against traffic improvements, it’s the secretive nature of the traffic committee we take issue with. As long as everybody has a chance to weigh in, we’re OK with what the majority decides. But we don’t believe that’s the case with the committee. And sorry if we made it seem we were speaking on behalf of EFF — we are definitely not speaking for anyone but ourselves.

      • Sean

        If I gave the impression that this article was speaking on behalf of EFF, I apologize. That was not my intention. This paper/blog’s subjectivity has also never been hidden and so no harm no foul there, either. Y’all do a fine job.

        Transparency is an excellent goal, and good to keep as a main priority. If the response during this meeting was “good idea or not, we don’t want to approve anything without a community understanding”, I’d be fine with it. Many of the responses mentioned in this article however were against traffic calming generally, which may be misdirected anger at the tiered decision-making system, but is still awfully tone deaf on its face.

        My point with the East/West construct is that instead of this type of emotion-first reaction, the more obvious need for such improvements down the hill might make a relationship between a community group and a specialized traffic advisory cadre have some balanced perspective and bear fruit. Consider the ideas, vote for or against, and weigh the cons of the groups organization against the current safety threat.

        Just seems like much-needed effort (transparent or no) being somewhat wasted on a group that is less likely to see the benefits due to less-urgent need.

        • Steve Fillmore

          Thanks Sean. Always happy to clarify. You mean this comment? (It’s the only anti-traffic comment we could find in the post – please let us know if you see others.)

          We kinda hate the speed cushions, too, Perry. …

          As I said in my last comment, we do think there’s a need for traffic improvements. Sorry if it comes across as though we’re fully supporting someone who’s clearly kind of losing it in this video.

          However, when it comes to speed bumps, they do kinda suck – from everything we’ve read. We don’t just hate driving over them, we actually did some research and it seems there are many progressive traffic theories *against* them. They don’t really work – they just divert traffic to other areas, which leads to more speed bumps and then before you know it, the whole neighborhood is a speed bump zone.

          I wish I was kidding about that — there are towns in New England where this has really happened! Neighbors then often sue to have them removed. Speedbumps can be a ridiculous waste of time & money, plus they also tend to impede emergency vehicles, leading to actual loss of life that cancels out theoretical people saved from traffic accidents where speedbumps are installed.

          Here’s an article we wrote with lots of links: http://www.eastfallslocal.com/henry-ave-next-for-safety-improvements/

          Not that anyone’s asking, but we support measures such as radar speed signs with cameras – a “high ticket” solution, but from what we’ve read it seems East Falls would be an ideal location to try this out. Whatever traffic calming measures others here & our Traffic Committee decide, we agree with you that dialog (and perhaps an independent traffic group?) is needed. The whole point of why we’re addressing Perry’s tirade, really, is exactly what you said you’d wished our commentary had highlighted: our need here for full community input.

          We’ve been following along for two years now, and we haven’t seen one vote or “sense of the room” concerning traffic calming measures. We hope they consider doing so moving forward in their meetings and not, as I understand, around John Gillespie’s living room table.

          Sorry if this point wasn’t clear from the commentary, we appreciate the chance to reason this thru further. Good looking out, dawg.

          • Sean

            For sure, Steve. And just to clarify, my reaction was not against yourself, this article, or EFL in general. It was against the seeming tone of the EFCC: a “speedbump-hating neighbor”, a member who thinks reducing the amount of lanes on a four-lane recently-deadly speedway is “ridiculous”, a member who worries about *more* bike lanes, and one that the traffic committee has “cockamamie” ideas. This type of reaction is not only hostile towards an attempted problem-solving, but also not at all constructive. Like I said, perhaps misdirected-anger at the opaque nature of the EFCC, but when traffic deaths have happened so recently, that type of barrel-vision of those members was a bit shocking.

            EFL tends to bring sources and data to back its arguments, which I appreciate. It makes agreements better rooted, and disagreements with ingredients to build a bridge in the future. (I would agree the high-ticket solution would be preferable to speed bumps.) Here’s hoping we can get a traffic think tank going that is better rooted than the one you have described above (perhaps an idea for the next EFF meeting?).

  • Todd B

    Hey there, just chiming in to say that there is in fact an effort underway to get a new zoning cmmttee chair. The context and players are unlikely to be a surprise to your readers and I will have a more comprehensive update about it in the near future. Thanks as always for the coverage – videoing mtgs and offering timely access to them so that people who can’t attend or so that the many people who stopped attending mtgs bc they got sick of seeing the same angry people argue over and over is an important part of civics in the 21st century. Thanks! Todd Baylson, chair, EFCC zoning cmmttee.

    • Christina Kistler

      Todd, I think you have been an excellent leader and it would be a sad thing to have you replaced.

      You have managed providing information and calming the angry neighbor in an extremely professional manner. Many meetings in EF do not expect civility, and I always appreciated your approach.

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