October 22, 2009


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The Chestnut Hill Local
8434 Germantown Ave.
Phila. PA 19118
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2009© Chestnut Hill Local
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Disgusted by GFM outcome

I just read the article about the Good Food Market.  I was disgusted that the zoning comity didn’t give Good Food Market its variance.

If you don’t know about the void created from the Wawa and Caruso’s closing and haven’t been following the story, I’ll try and refresh.

This woman Jennifer Zoga has started a market on Willow Grove Avenue close to Germantown Avenue.  She obviously spent tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars on renovating the property, not to mention her sweat equity, to invest in a hurting economic area.

From day one she has been met with opposition, but she has fought the good fight and opened her store.  Now that it is open they are denying letting her sell coffee, sandwiches etc. [Editor’s note: The Zoning Board of Adjustments refused Zoga’s request for a variance two weeks ago.]

What is their agenda? Do they want to close her down or are they just opposing the sale of coffee? Really, how petty are these people

A decent market is what the area needs and to deny Zoga the right to sell a few coffees and sandwiches is so lame.  It’s hard for someone not to think there is another group with its own agenda that has influenced this decision, I’m going to let you think about this one. 

Lastly, I don’t know Zoga and haven’t even been to her store yet. I might find it overpriced and pretentious, but guess what? I’m going to her store with my wife and son today and when I’m shopping around I might feel like I want some coffee and a little snack. The point is I don’t have to like her or her store to support what she stands for.  Now, I suggest you do the same. Go to her store and support her if and when she appeals to the zoning board. 

Greg Natali
Chestnut Hill


The people want coffee

As a near neighbor of the new Good Food Market, I am delighted to have a locally owned grocery store within walking distance. Given the current vacancies on the Avenue, and the preponderance of banks, it was with great anticipation that we watched the reconstruction of the old Pack and Post business.

Like many residents, I chose to live in Chestnut Hill precisely because it is a place where one can walk, shop and run into neighbors, where one is not isolated from the commerce necessary to a functioning life. So it is with sadness that I read last week of the continuing obstruction by some to a variance Jennifer Zoga had hoped to obtain to serve us coffee and sandwiches.

I believe that more than 400 people, including me, signed a petition last week in her support. I hope the naysayers can get over their reactions to change, as it does seem that far more people welcome this new addition than stand against it. I wish Jennifer and all her employees a long and prosperous presence in our community.

Virginia Ellis
Willow Grove Avenue
Chestnut Hill


Avert them!

Re: the Retail Vacancy Committee…

What are they looking at?  All those pair, of eyes, during all those meetings, committees and study groups — at close quarters or across a crowded room.  Where do those board members and their associates look when The Big Dog sits at their table for those discussions about all those empty properties on Germantown Avenue?

By the way.  It’s bogus to blame the economy on many of these vacancies. See the archived Local (April 28, 2005).

Martha Haley
Former CHCA board member
Haddon Township, N.J.


St. Paul’s Rummage Sale was a success

To the Chestnut Hill community: Thank you for making this year’s Rummage Sale a success. As always, your outpouring of time, talent and treasure have exceeded expectations.

 As some may know, we, as a parish, are committed to pumping all of the proceeds of the Rummage Sale back into Chestnut Hill and the surrounding communities of Northwest Philadelphia. This year, we are pleased to announce that we will be distributing over $35,000 in outreach grants to non-profit organizations providing services to the hungry and the homeless, children, women, the elderly and those in need of medical care.

Additionally, St. Paul’s has donated all of the sale leftovers to local organizations, which use the goods to further their missions. Recipients include the Chestnut Hill Senior Center, Whosoever Gospel Mission, Liberty Thrift Stores, The Career Wardrobe, Teen Challenge International and the Seaman’s Institute.

On behalf of the entire St. Paul’s family, I thank you for your support. We look forward to seeing you next year!

The Rev. E. Cliff Cutler
Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church


Thank you for your help 

The Friends of Christine Oliger offer a heart-felt thanks to the Chestnut Hill Local for the publicity which made our Beef and Beer for Christine a fabulous success on Saturday, Oct. 10.??Christine is a peace activist from Chestnut Hill who has been diagnosed with ALS (also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease”).

We want to publicly thank the area businesses that offered gift certificates and merchandise for our raffle/auction, including McMenamin’s Tavern, McNally’s Tavern, Orion’s Light Healing Arts, Tangled Web, Trolley Car Diner, Video Library and Walk a Crooked Mile Bookstore.

We also thank the many neighbors who contributed raffle/auction items, including Mickey Abraham, Terrie Abraham, John Bieniek, Sol Bolden, Cati Coe, Eleanor Day, Diane Dunning, Storm Evans, Eileen Flanagan, Abbe Forman, Robert Fudge, Arianna Haven, Wendy Kane, Howard Lesnick, Carol McLean, Meg McNally, M. Mellor, Kathy Miller, Michael Platton, Shams Prinzivalli, Laura Richlin, Carolyn Schodt, Helen Seitz, Cheryl Shipman, Peter Watkins, and Christine’s friends from college (Dawn, Jean, Nikki, Val and Wendy). ??Our next event will be a Helping Hands week at Trolley Car Diner, 7619 Germantown Avenue, between Monday, Nov. 9, and Sunday, Nov. 15. If you can join us then, please bring the SPECIAL COUPON which is available at, and Christine will receive 15 percent of your payment for her medical expenses.??For more information, please call 215-843-4256 and email

Chris Robinson for
Friends of Christine


Re: Jim Harris’ article

“Rebel with a cause: breaking rules at Morris Arboretum, Oct. 15.”

He left “the old country” (Italy) at age 13. He came to Chestnut Hill and went right to work at the Morris Arboretum. Like many of the immigrants back then, he could hardly read or write, but he learned to speak fairly decent English and count money. Somehow, the last letter of his last name became an “A” instead of an “O.”

When he married, the Morris family helped him buy a house on W. Highland Avenue. He and his wife had six children.

At the Arboretum, he was asked how he raised such beautiful plants and flowers. His answer was a simple “a little bitta ofa this, a handful ofa that.” He used a fertilizer of his own mix. His answer always drew many laughs.

He died at age 87, shortly after retiring from the Arboretum. He had worked there for 73 years.

Like many who came here from the “old country,” he made his own red wine in the cellar of his house. Drink more than one glass of his “homemade red” and you’d be floating somewhere in outer space.

Who was he? Joseph Costanza, Mike Costanzo’s great-grandfather, and my wife Joannie’s grandfather, but to all his grandkids he was simply called “Pop.” He was a gentle, humorous and hard-working person from “the old school,” loved by all who knew him.

Tom Woodruff


Overwhelming turnout; thanks.

Thanks so much for writing an in-depth and enjoyable piece on the Northwest Artists and the Open Studio tour (in the Oct. 8 issue). I am sorry that I haven’t gotten to respond before, but the Open Studio last weekend was overwhelming me. We got 150 people visiting throughout the weekend, and the successful turnout was due in part to your article!

Dan Oliva
Mt. Airy

Quality theater affordable here

The show, “700 Sundays,” has closed. The Oct. 4 Inquirer listed show prices from $29.50 to $91 and gave the Ticketmaster telephone number. Ticketmaster on Saturday, Oct. 10, was still selling seats for $175, though the range of prices now dropped down to $29.50 rather than the previous $91 low. I tried to call the Merriam Theater and was only successful at awakening a machine that buzzed and then went silent. On my scale of life disappointments, this missed opportunity doesn’t even register.

As a matter of fact, Philadelphia has a vibrant theater. Saturday night, I attended a play at Gas and Electric Arts in the Wolf Building, 340 North 12th St., between Vine and Callowhill. It was great fun, and I was engaged by a story called “Cabinet of Wonders.” The two actors were professional, and I was transported into their helpless world, all for $20 and free street parking.

You don’t have to go into Center City for good entertainment, either. The Allens Lane Theater has been entertaining neighbors for 40 years.

Chestnut Hill has Stagecrafters. Not only are their performances thoroughly professional, but the realistic stage sets are always appropriate to the story. If you attend Thursday evening performances, a pair of tickets is $20, $5 off the single-seat price.

Now I’m not sure I should have revealed this fact. It might take away my advantage of easy last-minute purchase. I must be mindful to separate quality theater from extravagant celebrity performance. After all, what’s in a name?

Maggie Wollman
Mt. Airy






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