Neighborhood news in brief for the week of Feb. 26

SKCP rejects Hope Street townhomes

The South Kensington Community Partners Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously rejected a proposal for the construction of residential duplexes and townhomes on Hope Street last Wednesday at a community zoning meeting.

Of the eight people who voted during this meeting, not one was in favor of this project, which would turn a vacant lot into 6 duplex units and three single family townhomes, located at 1210–14 N. Front St.

Residents who lived within a quarter mile radius from the proposed site were eligible to vote.

“The community had issues with the lack of commercial space on the Front Street side of the project,” according to co-chair of the SKCP zoning and planning committee Ariel Vazquez. “Even though the developer took the recommendations of the DRC [Design Review Committee] on making the facade more “commercial,” this didn’t satisfy the community.”

Vazquez said the developers made steps toward providing an appropriate commercial design for the buildings, and the committee will continue to work with them to further develop their plans for the building.

Further instructions at the meeting were for the developers to return to the next zoning meeting, which occurs on the third Wednesday of the month, with a revised plan, SKCP director of operations Lauren Lynch said. ••

Richmond Street problems

In response to calls from concerned constituents, state Rep. John Taylor (R-177th Dist.) on Monday requested that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation make improvements to the Richmond Street detour.

In the first three days that Richmond Street was closed for the 95 Revive project, Taylor’s office received numerous calls about the resulting “extensive traffic delays and heightened threat of collisions,” District Office Manager Marc Collazzo said in an email to PennDOT.

Taylor’s office requested that PennDOT make the following changes:

– Add a sign on Delaware Avenue northbound before Montgomery Avenue to warn drivers that Richmond Street is closed and to use Aramingo Avenue or I-95 north instead.

– Have detour signs direct drivers up Thompson Street or over to Aramingo Avenue, but not south on Edgemont Street, which has reportedly created chaos.

– Replace the barrels at Richmond Street and Lehigh Avenue with Jersey barriers, because the barrels have been knocked down frequently.

In an email Monday morning, a PennDOT official said she would address these concerns. ••

Street collapse

Residents in more than 20 homes were displaced as a result of water and gas leaks on the 3000 block of Livingston Street last Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Marc Collazzo, district office manager for state Rep. John Taylor (R-177th Dist.), said he was on the scene with the water department, gas department, police and fire officials.

“We had to get everyone out,” he said. “Whatever they had on their back was what they took with them.”

Collazzo said residents were taken to the PAL building at Clearfield and Belgrade Streets, where the Red Cross was on the scene to offer assistance where needed.

Residents were allowed back in their homes later that evening.

According to the letter sent to block residents, a 6-inch water main break initially caused the incident. Water department officials were sent to repair the break that day. The temporary evacuation was a result of reports of a gas odor following the water main break.

The water main was repaired and water service was restored by early the next day, but the gas repairs took longer, according to city officials.

The water department has hired industrial cleaning companies to help with the cleanup of flooded basements and plumbers to replace hot water heaters and furnaces, the letter said. The water department will help residents with claims and people will be able to get reimbursed for any appliances damaged by the flood, according to a city official.

The street will be temprarily repaired with a final restoration scheduled for this spring as the weather allows, the letter said. ••

Suspects sought in shooting

Police are still searching for two suspects in a Port Richmond shooting that sent two men to the hospital on Sunday, Feb. 16.

The incident occurred at 1:18 a.m. on the 3600 block of Frankford Avenue, police said in a statement. The victims, ages 25 and 29, were approached from behind by two unknown males. The first suspect shot the first victim in the head, sending him to the ground.

The suspects made off with the second victim’s wallet, but not before firing a shot striking him in the head. The two suspects fled in an unknown direction.

The victims were able to walk to their residence, where they notified police. They were then transported to Temple Hospital, police said.

The first suspect is described as an 18–20 year old African American male, thin build, wearing a green coat with a hooded sweatshirt. He had tattoos on his face. The second suspect was also a black male, no further description, according to police.

A surveillance video is available on the Philadelphia Police YouTube Channel or at www.phillypolice.com/news.

To submit a tip, call 215–686-TIPS (8477) or text PPD TIP 773847. ••

New chief integrity officer

Hope Caldwell has been appointed the city’s chief integrity officer. She takes over for Joan Markman, who retired.

According to Mayor Michael Nutter, Markman built the office beginning in January 2008 to promote a culture of honesty and transparency in the city.

She also wrote the IntegrityWorks website to help employees, citizens and vendors understand ethics and contracting rules.

“Joan did tremendous work for the City, promoting an environment of transparency and ethical conduct for how we do business,” said Mayor Nutter. “Hope shares Joan’s commitment to this work and I know the values we share as public servants will continue under her leadership.”

Since September 2011, Caldwell has served as chief deputy integrity officer.

During that time, she worked on contract and federal grant compliance and vacant land disposition policies.

She is on the Vacant Property Review Committee and was a member of Mayor Nutter’s Election Day 2012 Taskforce.

Caldwell also worked with the Mayor’s Taskforce on City-Owned Facilities.

Prior to that, she spent five years in the City Law Department working in both the contracts and real estate units. ••