by Jennifer Katz

Distinguished Service Award winner, James Black

This year the Chestnut Hill Community Association is honoring its own, naming two current members of the association’s community and a longstanding resident of the Chestnut Hill community as award recipients.

Each year the association picks three outstanding examples of service to the community, honoring them with the Chestnut Hill Award, the Meritorious Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award.

Patricia Cove, a member of the nomination committee, said the recipients stood out this year for their significant contributions.

Larry McEwen, 58, a 20-year resident of Chestnut Hill, is this year’s recipient of the Chestnut Hill Award. He is being honored for more than 17 years of service as a volunteer on the Land Use Planning and Zoning committee and the Development Review Committee, which he currently co-chairs. McEwen was chosen this year to highlight the long hours and dedication he brought to the negotiations with Chestnut Hill College.

McEwen headed the committee of association members, neighbors and college representatives, working together to create a master plan for the college’s two campuses that met everyone’s needs. “Larry is always fair,” Cove said. “He encourages communication. He’s been an excellent leader.”

McEwen was recruited to the LUPZ in 1993 after attending a meeting at the behest of some of his new neighbors. He moved into his house on W. Evergreen Ave. in 1990 and as an architect was sought out for his opinion on neighborhood issues. The day after he attended that very first meeting, LUPZ member Bill Washburn asked him to join.

McEwen, who also teaches urban design at Drexel University, said he loves Chestnut Hill and has enjoyed serving on the committees.

“Chestnut Hill is a great place to be. It’s pedestrian and yet has a rich mix of uses,” he said.

Last year the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment thought it had to close its doors forever.

The group had spent decades providing classes and events for seniors. It was a place to go, to gather and to be with friends. It was Marilyn Paucker, president of the board, who at what was to be the final meeting, announced that there would be funding to continue.

“She worked to ensure it continued to serve the community,” Cove said. And for that she is this year’s recipient of the Meritorious Service Award.

“I’m a little embarrassed by it all,” Paucker said. “I’m surprised.” Paucker, 64, who has also served as secretary for the CHCA board for the past three years, said she feels humbled by the recognition.

This year’s Distinguished Service Award winner, James Black, 82, is being honored for the number of years he has spent walking the neighborhood, making it a more beautiful place, block-by-block.

Black has lived in Chestnut Hill since 1973. He calls himself a “woodsy” man because he likes trees. When he retired from his job as a budget manager for Conrail in 1990, he focused his attention on the green spaces throughout Chestnut Hill, ensuring that they remain safe and well-kept.

Black has devoted countless hours to pruning, caring for and cleaning green areas. He has made hundreds of phone calls, lobbying city offices to do their job and take care of their property. And when that failed, he simply did it himself.

Among his accomplishments are clearing the trees behind the library of “killer” vines, staving off a thistle attack in the library garden, tending to the Highland Avenue parking lot’s trees and shrubbery, splitting wood from dried out trees and giving it out to neighbors, saving the last cherry tree on Highland Avenue and tending the small traffic islands near his residence at the Hill House.

“I’m the neighborhood improvement guy,” he said. “I walk through figuring out how to fix things, calling people. Others observe but don’t follow through.”

The awards will be presented at the CHCA’s annual meeting on April 20. For more information or to purchase tickets to the events, call 215-248-8810.