With all of the development popping up around campus, it’s easy to forget
about the structures – physical and societal – that have existed in this area long before anyone considered morphing Temple into a residential campus.
There’s no arguing with the fantastic amenities that this new, growing campus has brought to students. But before there were 10,000 undergrads, there was a community with the same people, troubles and struggles that any suburban community
Imagine, for a second, that you lived in a planned development complete with cul-de-sacs and a name like “Whispering Pine Meadows at Slate Creek Run.”
Your parents are proud of their home, and the ascribed status that comes with comfortable family living. Your neighbors are councilmen, university professors and even the mayor.
But one day, a developer buys several houses and demolishes them for a new 7-Eleven. Then, another developer sees the profitability of a nearby field and decides to erect a 12-story residential tower. The residents of the tower are up at all hours of the night. Children can’t sleep, parents
worry about the new crowd, which is unruly,
and not to mention, generally inebriated.
If this happened in a suburban community,
leaders would be up in arms. Local elected officials would work with the residents and possible developers to create a situation in which the community would survive and developers would continue to, well, develop.
Because that’s what they do.But this isn’t happening in any suburban communities I know of; it’s happening right in our backyard. As much as we all love Temple, we are guests here. After we’ve gone on, there will still be a community. And we owe it to that community to have a shared vision of what the area will look like years from now.
The university has been given a unique opportunity to dictate North Philadelphia’s future. But through this process, the voice of the community has been a bit shortchanged. The university should work to establish an open line of communication with our community residents and leaders, along with the elected officials that represent this area.
A new community alliance would ensure that the university could continue its recent trend of on and off-campus development while better serving the families that share our community.
The advisory board could be made up of community presidents, ward leaders, business owners and university representatives. It’s not like the board would face pressing business – they could no doubt address many of the concerns of the community by meeting every three months.
Such a meeting would be a great chance for the community to weigh in on potential development, for the university to voice concerns they have with the community and for students to get involved with their new neighborhood.
We wouldn’t let development go unchecked in our own neighborhoods. This is our neighborhood, too.
Chris Reber can be reached at