Letters March 31, 2011

Letters March 29, 2011 0 Comments

Charter won’t cater to local kids

I have nothing against Green Woods Charter School’s relocation to Chestnut Hill, assuming easement issues and near neighbor concerns are appropriately addressed. But I don’t understand the mantra that both the school and parents use to encourage local community support – that Green Woods Charter will bring a public school option to Chestnut Hill. And that having such an option will somehow benefit local parents, encouraging them to stay in Chestnut Hill, rather than flee to the suburbs, thus enhancing property values.
The truth is that as a Chestnut Hill parent, you will not be able to choose Green Woods for your child. Only through the charter school lottery system can the school choose you. Right now 90 percent of applicants are turned away.
Though the school will increase its size, its popularity will increase citywide as well, owing to the greater accessibility of its location relative to public transportation. Securing a spot won’t get much easier. So, how does the community actually benefit when only a few families at most will get a coveted spot?
Charter schools do not benefit the majority of parents who want a good public school option for their child. On the other hand, investing in the future of Chestnut Hill’s existing public school, J.S. Jenks, can benefit young families in Chestnut Hill, and ultimately the entire community. Jenks is one of the top Philadelphia K-8 public schools.
Many local families have already chosen Jenks, and there are many great things happening at the school. Yes it has typical urban school challenges, and with funding cuts looming, the road ahead is difficult. However, with community and parent involvement and support, J.S. Jenks can be the choice for local families looking for a public education solution. It can be the school that keeps families in Chestnut Hill, rather than moving to the burbs.

Haviva Goldman
Chestnut Hill

Neighbor welcomes Green Woods

Until the news broke several weeks ago, I had never heard of the Green Woods Charter School. As a neighbor of the Greylock Manor property, I read with interest the descriptions of the many unique qualities of this special school. I believe it will be a great asset to our community, and I would welcome them to our neighborhood.
On the beautiful grounds of Greylock Manor, the students can practice the principles of environmental conservation as well as inspire the entire Chestnut Hill community to further environmental awareness. I would like to see these dedicated young people warmly welcomed by all of their new neighbors.

Linda Baldwin
Chestnut Hill

Not surprised by neighbors’ opposition

I applaud our editor in taking a stand that the charter school might be the best option for the property.
Have we ever found “near neighbors” to be in favor of anything? Therefore, it is of no surprise that the near neighbors of the proposed charter school oppose development. What is surprising is that, by their count, 100 people live on West Chestnut Hill Avenue and therefore have some clout as near neighbors.
]Ooops! No. It’s just that they found 100 signatures. If we would define the affected neighbors as those actually living on West Chestnut Hill Avenue, we’d need every man, woman, child, dog, cat and gerbil (I draw the line at “dog”).
Twenty years ago, we came to this community looking for a house and realized that West Chestnut Hill was really a great neighborhood. We were looking at a house there we called “Chestnut Hill 1.” Eventually, we chose “Chestnut Hill 2” on the east side instead. Along the way, we considered homes on the same block of Chestnut Hill Avenue across from Our Mother of Consolation. It would have been cool for our daughter, a soon-to-be schoolgirl, but when our agent soaked her suede boots in a water-covered, dirt basement, we chose elsewhere.
I will not be surprised if the Chestnut Hill Historical Society finds that amendments to the easements are in the best interest of “preservation.” As for traffic issues, Chestnut Hill is truly the NE access point to Philadelphia, especially as motorists look for creative routes. I’ll trade the traffic on E. Evergreen Ave for West Chestnut Hill Avenue any day, as long as you take two cars for each of my buses.
We all suffer traffic. But then, again, I admit going to work before the rush. I suggest those wanting peace and quiet get out at 5:30 a.m. when it’s nice on either side of Germantown Avenue.
Ed Budnick
Chestnut Hill

What about Jenks?

In 1999 I was part of a coalition of neighborhood organizations that invested much time and energy working with the potential owner of Greylock Mansion to attain an easement in exchange for the variance needed to use the building as he had hoped. We all worked long and hard to carve out this agreement. If this is thrown out for another and expanded use of that property, I have to wonder, What was the use of working in good faith to create that agreement?

The purpose for the easement was to contribute to the conservation of Fairmount Park and the Wissahickon, a public resource available to all and a world-renowned city park. Development, the reason for changing the easement, with the addition of buildings, 600-plus students and cars and buses to accommodate them, would contribute runoff, erosion and other threats to the preservation of the this exceptional natural resource and add to its decline.
And would this school come back again for further development in the future? Many of our schools have expanded, but they have been established here for many, many years, the latest being more than 40 years ago.

All parents want the best education they can get for their children, and I am wondering if the parents who are urging that this charter school be built in the West Chestnut Hill Avenue location have been to our local public school, J.S. Jenks. As a member of the Chestnut Hill Rotary, I have spent time at Jenks. We work in the school with Jenks students in a supportive reading program, have contributed dictionaries for student use and financially supported the Jenks Music Department.
Jenks has an energetic and forward-thinking principal. Jenks students have raised money for causes when there is a need. It was Jenks parents who raised money and organized the community to build the fabulous playground that is there for all in the community to use, and Jenks participates in other community activities. Please don’t write off this terrific community public school.

Marie Lachat
Chestnut Hill

Chili Cook-off a big success

A fabulous event beyond our expectations describes the First Annual Chestnut Hill Rotary Chili Cook-off. You can’t beat a room overflowing with face-painted kids (and even an adult or two), old friends catching up and new friends becoming acquainted all overlaid by the blissful aroma of chili cooking. Hmmm! Alligator Chili, Hawaiian Chili and more!
What a terrific time everyone had at the beautiful Brossman Center of the Lutheran Theological Seminary and this was made possible by the generous restaurateurs and caterers, volunteers, venders and sponsors of this fun, family event.
We thank them all, but we especially thank our generous sponsors, which include East River Bank, Forest and Main Brewery and Pub, O’Doodles, Semper Trust Company, Sila Heating and Air Conditioning, Wondergy, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Reed Axelrod Architects, Schoff McCabe P.C., Bates Photography, Carol Schwartz Gallery, Electrical Wizardry, GTI Travel, Human Touch Home Care, Leather Bucket Antiques, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Ross and McCrea LLP, Valley Green Bank, Beth Ounsworth and Family, Esther Kurtz and Family and Susan Bray and Family.
We can’t wait to do this again next year! But don’t wait until then. Join us for a Wednesday meeting at 7:30 a.m. at the Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church. All are welcome.

Christian Mongrain
President,
Chestnut Hill Rotary Club

Looking for heroes

Re: Nathan Lerner’s article, “Cancers in Family Prompt 13-year-old to raise funds,” Local, March 24.
You say you can’t find heroes, children! You don’t know where to look? Well, first off put down those magazines, throw away the sports page, turn off the television, reach up on my library shelf, take down that red, white and blue covered book, turn to the chapter “Americans who go far out of the norm to help fight for a cure for those with dread diseases.”
They are the real heroes! They are to be admired by young ones like you and old folks like me … and in that chapter you will find Kyle Rosenberg.
Tom Woodruff
Oreland

Puzzled by photo of tsunami

Thank you for a great newspaper that has enlivened the life of my family and me. I have been an area resident all of my 70 years, although the first 15 were at Fort Washington (but I went to school in Chestnut Hill 1946-1958) and the last 26 in Mt. Airy.
I was hoping to simply send you an email, but I have given up trying to find an email address in the paper or on your website. This is my first ever letter to the Chestnut Hill Local.
The photograph of the tsunami on page 17 of the March 24 issue is the most dramatic I have ever seen, but I wish there had been a more detailed attribution of the date, the place, and circumstances.
Looking closely, I am wondering if it is for real. If so, it certainly appears that the tsunami will go over the top of what seem to be 18-story (or more) buildings, which seems impossible. The highest waves I have heard of in connection with this current disaster were 30 feet high.
The breaking water over the sea wall in center left of the photograph does not seem realistic.
To me – I am no expert – the photograph seems to be a composite of two photographs: one of the sea, the other of the city in question. My sincere apologies if I am mistaken about any of this.
Thanks very much for whatever light you can throw on this astounding photograph.

Henry T. Armistead
Mt. Airy

Get suburbanites to come to Hill

I’ve lived in Mt. Airy for 10 years and love it, but everyone knows Mt. Airy wouldn’t be as great as it is if we didn’t have Germantown on one side and Chestnut Hill on the other.
Poppy’s at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market has opened his full-time coffee shop, pastry shop and gelato for summer evenings on the Hill, and it does make for a great corridor between Bredenbeck’s, Baker Street, Night Kitchen, Metropolitan Bakery, Starbucks and Chestnut Hill Coffee Shop, as well as so many other lovely shops and parks.
I’d like Chestnut Hill’s advertising to outlying areas to say: “Come to the city on a summer evening. Even if you’re going to Center City, try a small detour south on Germantown Avenue. There are many ways to get back to Route 76 if you want to continue on.”
People who live in the suburbs say their dog walks are so lonely when I tell them about how much fun mine are! People love my dog, and there are so many stores where he comes inside. Since I love tying together so many things at once, this makes me happy, and I spend more money!

Sue Maska
Mt. Airy

Raising money for desperate children

Since you wrote an article about my experiences in Uganda last year, I have email-fundraised a Dream House ($11,500) for Auntie Irene (who was mentioned in the story), so she and her husband, Uncle Jimmy, a policeman, can continue to take in more children as I find them sponsors! It took me five months, and they have started building the house
I returned to Uganda in late January for three weeks, just prior to President Meseveni’s re-election. (They pay people to vote there!) There was a travel alert to U.S. citizens posted the day I arrived! I was overjoyed to see Victo (a young girl who had become pregnant after being raped) and meet her baby and see her in a great new school.
I taught art, visited the five sponsored kids and got involved in a plastic recycling project involving the local public elementary school (4,000 kids on $4 per student a year!). My idea was the “The Recyclers,” a local soccer team where kids (boys and girls in that school, where the headmaster, Victo’s uncle, will be the advisor) bring in plastic from their neighborhoods to play on the team. Then the school stores the plastic until there is enough to sell. There is plastic everywhere – bushes, along roads, etc. – and no trash or recycling program at all. China buys recycled plastic! The nearest recycling center is three hours away.
We can make a difference in the blink of an eye!
The world is so sore right now. It breaks my heart.

Kitsie Converse
Chestnut Hill

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