The 32nd Democratic Ward will hold a community meeting Wednesday evening to discuss local developments and an update on Temple’s proposed stadium, through the lens of zoning.
The ward is a registered community organization, or RCO—covering west of Main Campus from Broad to 33rd streets—and works on zoning in its geographic boundary, which covers parts of North Philadelphia and Strawberry Mansion. Members meet quarterly throughout the year. Committee members, block captains, residents and homeowners are invited to Wednesday’s meeting, scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at the Amos Recreation Center.
Developers are working to zone properties at 1608 W. Susquehanna Ave., 1938 N. 19th St. and 2031 Carlisle St. The demolition of 2020 N. Carlisle St. will also be presented.
Judith Robinson, leader of the ward, said if developers present their case to Licenses and Inspections and are given a refusal by the department, they must come and present to the location’s ward.
“We’re going to try and give clarity to the overall developments in the 32nd ward,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to get people to come out and be clear that the role of the RCO is to vet these development issues.”
The 32nd Democratic Ward can oppose the proposal by developers, but it is nonbinary. The RCO reports their determination of the property back to L&I and the department decides whether they can build on the property. Robinson said Temple could eventually have to come and present the stadium proposal to the organization in the future.
Along with other documents, a 2012 task force report convened by former university President Ann Weaver Hart on student concerns and community concerns will be provided to attendees. This report—which is the most recent one available—will be discussed to show past concerns from both community residents and the university.
“The community has always been very concerned about student behavior, and it’s gotten out of hand with a lot of drinking, vandalism so they’re very much concerned about these issues now,” Robinson said.
Yumy Odom, chair of the program committee at the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation, said he plans on attending the meeting. He said community members have had concerns about student behavior.
He added that like the 32nd ward, his organization is neither for or against the stadium, but wants to hear more about what its impact would be on the surrounding neighborhood.
“The main thing is that Temple needs to reconsider its position in the community,” Odom said. “Are they a part of it, or are they not?”
No Temple representative was invited to the meeting. Robinson said this meeting is geared toward homeowners and residents.
“Once we as the community come up with some concrete ideas about the actions that we should take, then we would want to meet with Temple representatives,” she said.
Another RCO that focuses on development near Main Campus is the Temple Area Property Association. Peter Crawford, a representative from the group, said he hadn’t heard of Robinson’s meeting, but added he had discussed other projects with her.
“It’s not our decision to decide whether or not to support the stadium,” he said about the university’s proposal. “That’s a decision between the community and the university.”
Robinson said there will also be presentations by property owners for new developers who were refused by L&I, about what an RCO is and information about the trustees’ resolution for a feasibility study at the meeting. There will also be talks about sustainability projects by Temple and the university’s new library.
Voting on the properties will take place via the general consensus of the crowd, Robinson said. If attendees are unsure about the property or have other concerns, they can pass a non-opposition move so the property will pass but the community can still challenge them elsewhere.
“We are going to do our best to fill the requirements of a RCO,” Robinson said. “I’ve got 30 years of real estate behind me and I’m a homeowner and I’m going to work very hard to make sure my community is represented properly.”
“This question of whether a stadium should be plopped at 16th and Norris [streets] is very much a question of land use,” she added. “Temple should come [to RCO meetings] and bargain in good faith.”
Steve Bohnel and Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.