Expanding accessibility to constituents

Councilman Bobby Henon brings ‘Neighborhood Office Hours’ to 6th District through April

Bringing services to your doorstep: Councilman Bobby Henon sits ready to field constituents’ concerns at ‘Neighborhood Office Hours’ at Bridgeview Cafe in Bridesburg. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

If you want to have Councilman Bobby Henon’s ear to air any concerns, you now have the opportunity to catch him outside his office and Center City.

The 6th District councilman recently debuted “Neighborhood Office Hours,” an attempt to expand his accessibility to his constituents during the next few months on select dates and at select locations.

Henon kicked off the outreach initiative on Monday, Jan. 29, at National Association of Letter Carriers, 9607 James St.

Monday, Feb. 12, marked the first “Neighborhood Office Hours” in Bridesburg, which was held at the soon-to-open Bridgeview Cafe, 4600 Richmond St.

The event served as a soft opening for the forthcoming establishment, which will open at the end of February, serve breakfast all day and is owned by Mike Zwiercan and Mary Scheetz-Hird.

The next event will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Dunkin Donuts, 2998 Welsh Road, the third and final location for the initiative.

The informal office hours will run from 4 to 7 p.m. each time at each location.

The initiative borrows from a similar one Henon orchestrated a few years ago.

“A few years ago, we offered Sidewalk Service, where we would set up a temporary office with a table and go to the local ShopRite and Boys and Girls Club to bring services to the residents,” Henon said. “We just wanted to bring this back to the neighborhoods.”

The 6th Councilmanic District encompasses Tacony, Mayfair, Holmesburg, Lexington Park, Holme Circle, Ashton, Bridesburg, Wissinoming, Port Richmond, East Torresdale, Castor Gardens, Oxford Circle, Rhawnhurst, Bells Corner, Winchester Park, Academy Gardens, Pennypack and Frankford.

Locations were chosen to be “centralized where different neighborhoods meet” and to “maximize the most density and reach the most people among neighborhoods,” according to Henon.

So far, the initiative has been “received very well,” with residents’ most common concerns being quality of life issues, squatters, tax rebates, short dumping, the “Bad Neighbors” initiative, and abandoned cars, according to Henon.

Hours, 4 to 7 p.m., were chosen to accommodate the widest range of people, in particular those who can’t make it to Henon’s office or to Center City during the day for various reasons from employment to childcare.

“I want to bring constituent services to the people,” Henon said. “I want to make it easier, not harder for people. My office has a presence in the district almost every night with all the civic meetings and this is just another opportunity to do that.”

The initiative is scheduled to run until the end of April, when council will be in the middle of budget season.

After “Neighborhood Office Hours” concludes, Henon plans to hold two town hall budget meetings in the district so residents can voice their concerns about where funds should be allocated.

Outside of the office hours held throughout the neighborhoods, constituents can contact the councilman’s office through Facebook or by calling the office, with calling the office first being the recommended route of action.

Regardless of how constituents get in touch with Henon, communication is key.

“Ultimately, this initiative is for people to feel connected to my office and the city, despite the ongoing social issues and what’s going on in government,” Henon said. “I want my office to be accessible, transparent and bring services to the neighborhoods.”

Councilman Bobby Henon will hold “Neighborhood Office Hours” at National Association of Letter Carriers, 9607 James St., on Feb. 26, March 26 and April 30; Bridgeview Cafe, 4600 Richmond St., on March 12, April 9, and April 14; and Dunkin Donuts, 2998 Welsh Road, on Feb. 20, March 19, and April 21, from 4 to 7 p.m. For more details, contact Councilman Bobby Henon’s office at 215–686–3444 or visit the Councilman Bobby Henon Facebook page.