April 22, 2010

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Market owner’s husband: Thugs closed down market, not bad business plans

While I support my wife Jennifer Zoga’s decision to take the high road on her recent closure of Good Food Market, I feel obligated to point out some inaccuracies in the letter submitted by Anne Spaeth and published by the Local last week (“Poor planning caused market’s closing,” April 15).

Ms. Spaeth suggested that the Market’s closure was simply a result of a failing business. This assertion is simply not true. The market was doomed by thuggish bullying that created a poisonous atmosphere for customers and employees.

It was the bullies who shut Jennifer and her staff down. Customers were harassed daily and photographed as they left the market. Employees were badgered and belittled for tying their bike to the wrong tree or walking on the wrong sidewalk with groceries.

My wife was intimidated by late night phone calls, vehicle vandalism, and, eventually, the tainting of her produce. No, this was not a simple business decision, but one of self-preservation for our families, our customers and the neighbors we love.

Much of it still makes little sense. Why did people like Ms. Spaeth and Ron Recko, who live nowhere near Willow Grove Avenue, attend a city zoning hearing to stand up against this business? Why does a radio jock from Roxborough feel compelled to rail against Jennifer after an Inquirer story pointed out the ridiculousness of the variance process? Why does “Councilman Greenlee’s Office” appear on a roster of protestants when he never, in fact, wrote a letter or took a stance on the matter?

 I personally witnessed a group, none of whom I recognized as neighbors, gather outside of L&I after the variance was denied and heard its leader shout, “This was a step! Here’s what we do next!”

The Good Food Market was a beautiful business. My wife did a great job. It wasn’t bad business planning that closed the market. It was an organized effort to quash a small business with novel ideas and noble ideals, in a community that needed it.

Adam Zoga
Chestnut Hill


Appearing here, on the pages of the Local, is a privilege. We are all granted the right to 300 words. From time to time, as a contributor to this page, I have been asked to opine on different issues. This week, I was asked to expound on the plight of the Good Food Market. Frankly, it’s not worth the space.

The owner built a welcoming store, but at $25.95 for a steak it seems there was a limit to what even Chestnut Hill would pay. I could continue, but the market is now closed, so there is no need to analyze the business model. Suffice it to say that the variances sought and denied, if granted, would not have supported the prices.

More important, than a store, a variance, or the profound statements of “our” president (of the CHCA) is the passing of Frank Galioto. The service that Frank gave to everyone somehow legitimized the whole of City Council.

For me, Frank was “the kicker of butts” (that’s what he called himself). I was the “maker of wine” (that’s what he called me). That’s how we addressed each other.

He helped me through the labyrinth of Philadelphia government, as “interim” Community Manager, as facility manager at Kirkbride, and I offered to help him understand the Feds.

Stewart Graham gave a fitting eulogy of his talents and contributions. I can’t add much more, except to say again that his personal touch somehow legitimized the need for a City Council (at least their staff). Frank was an invaluable guide through the labyrinth of Philadelphia government and a reason to vote for Frank Rizzo, no matter what his political affiliation.

Our day-to-day squabbles pale in comparison to his passing and the loss to his family, and we should all pause in remembrance.

Ed Budnick
Chestnut Hill


Careless planning at station

I have been observing the makeover of St. Martin’s Station for a couple of months, somewhat doubtful of the need for new lighting, but whatever. I’m all for funds from the federal government going to refurbish public spaces and the infrastructure, and I’m all for the creation of jobs.

But I was shocked to see how reckless the planning has been when, the other day, I saw that the steps leading from Springfield Avenue up to the city-bound side had been removed.

These steps had been there, I assume, from the 1880s, when the station was built. They had acquired over the years, from generations of commuters, a remarkable character in our neighborhood — the look of wear, a beautiful aging of the stone that had left the steps unevenly eroded, the result of millions of footsteps for over a hundred years. Walking up those steps, I used to feel, as I’m sure many have, connected to this place in a rare way. Sometimes, if I wasn’t hurrying to catch the train, I thought of Frederick Evans’ great 1903 photographs of the stairs at Wells Cathedral in England. OK, we’re not talking about Wells Cathedral here, but still, it takes a long time for stairs – stone stairs – to acquire character.

Now we have concrete. Nicely poured, nicely squared, yes, and in 10 or 20 years, the steps will be chipped and in need of replacement, which will take another 10 years.

I wish the architects who designed this project might have considered what makes a place special and not just how to replace what’s “old.”

Miles Orvell
Chestnut Hill


‘Radio Times’ on the Road in Chestnut Hill

Last Wednesday evening the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment presented the second in its Speaker Series, Evening of Enrichment, and the guest was Marty Moss-Coane of WHYY, the producer and award-winning host of “Radio Times.” The event was held in the sanctuary of  the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

William Marrazzo, president and CEO of WHYY, introduced Marty, who then introduced her panel of regional experts: Tom Ferrick, senior editor of Metropolis, Michael Hagen, associate professor of political science at Temple University, and Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll, all of whom discussed the state of current Pennsylvania politics. Included in the program were analyses of the closely watched race for the U.S. Senate seat and also the race for the governor.

Following the discussion of Marty and the panel, questions were taken from the audience, which numbered over 300. At the conclusion of the program, everyone was invited to remain for a reception, which Marty attended and where she mingled, posed for photos and was happy to enter into discussion with the guests.

It was a “grand happening” for the CHCE and also for Chestnut Hill; now we must do our best to be certain that Speaker #3 is up to the same standard!

The evening could not have happened without the generosity of Cindy Jarvis and her staff at the church, who provided the perfect venue for the event. I would like to thank Bredenbeck’s Bakery and Cake for providing sweets for the reception and Greg Welsh, president of the CHBA, for his support. Finally, a thank you to the CHCE Director Mary Zell, the Assistant Director Sue Davis and the CHCE board who worked hard before and during the event to make it such a wonderful evening!

Marilyn M. Paucker
CHCE Board President


To a helmet thief

This is an open letter to the person who stole the helmet off my motorcycle from the lot at the old Ford dealership on Sunday night.

I was able to replace the helmet yesterday, although I did have to ride the bike home without a helmet, and then to a dealership down in Manayunk where I could buy a new one. I don’t intentionally ride without a helmet. As an ex-EMT, I’ve seen enough gruesome accidents to know better.

I wonder if you’ve given any thought to the striking symbolism of your act: stealing an item that you didn’t intend to use, procured by it’s owner with the express intent of proactively managing his own risks in order to make his community a safer place overall. Though you may not have considered it, a safe community benefits a thief as much as an upstanding member. It also benefits your family and loved ones.

If you care about your family, then you should know that I have family as well. They would have been devastated if I had crashed my bike on the way to the helmet store yesterday, just as yours would if you were crippled or killed in an accident. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with the concept of karma; if not, I’d encourage you to look into it and think for yourself about what the effects of stealing my helmet might be for you later in life. I’ll also tell you that it’s never too soon or too late to start putting back in to yourself, your family and your community.

I wish that you live a long, productive life.

Jack Byers
Mt. Airy


Fairmount Park deer killing

 It is now evident that the endless procession of death in Fairmount Park is self-perpetuating. It can be said with confidence that killing deer is here in perpetuity.

The City of Philadelphia calls it “unfinished business.” It’s business transacted with a .223-caliber rifle aimed at deer in and, yes, just outside park boundaries. The agent of death who now provides this service is the United States Department of Agriculture’s disingenuously named Wildlife Services. It is the largest contract-killing agency in the country, obliterating millions of so-called nuisance animals.

Beginning in 1999, and after 12 years, a reported 2,116 deer have been killed in and around the park. This cancer is spreading in Fairmount Park. For the first time, Cobbs Creek Park in West Philadelphia was targeted this year. In and around the Wissahickon alone, 781 deer have been reported killed to date. In 1996, a count by air observed a total of 159 deer there. Consider the numbers.  How can this be?  As always, the devil is in the details. 

The Review on March 14, 2001, quoted then Fairmount Park Commission Chief-of-Staff Barry Bessler as saying, “This is being done in the interior of the park. We are not standing up on Henry Avenue shooting into the park.”

In fact, shooting has occurred from a public road into a small wooded area outside the park boundary in a residential neighborhood. This conduct warrants an investigation.

This is a case of justice denied. It’s been said, “If we do not do something to help these creatures, we make a mockery of the whole concept of justice.” Remember, silence is the enemy of justice.

Bridget W. Irons
Chestnut Hill


The return of Krispy Kreme

Congrats and much thanks to Hugh Gilmore for bringing Krispy Kreme back to Philadelphia. Obviously, his column was inspirational. 

Claudia Becker
Mt. Airy


Park is best thing about NW Philly

I absolutely loved Jim Harris’ article (4/15 issue) about his experiences in the [Wissahickon] park throughout his life. I am recently retired, so I am probably about Jim’s age, and I have lived most of my life in this area, so I could really relate to what Jim wrote.

As far as I am concerned, the park is the best thing about living in this area. Too many of us do not appreciate it because it’s always been there, and we tend to take it for granted. But believe me, most city dwellers anywhere in the world would give almost anything, including even higher taxes, if they could have such a magnificent resource so close to the city and yet so much of a wilderness area.

I have had friends visit me from other cities, and I always make sure to take them into the park. They are always amazed that such a gigantic, beautiful park is right in the middle of a big city. In addition to the negatives that Harris mentioned (too congested, compared to the old days), I would add the fact that the city has been killing off most of the deer, which certainly has removed one of the most wonderful things about the park.

I remember my children and grandchildren being so thrilled at the magical sight of deer in the park. They would always talk about it to their friends at school. Kids cannot see that in the park anymore. That is a tragedy that could have easily been avoided.

Phil Lesher
Chestnut Hill


My last letter; Goodbye

SUBJECT:  Walt Sullivan’s literary contributions to the Local.

FACT:  Selective memory

MY OPINION:  Shameless

CONCLUSION:  Unfortunate – “I’m always loyal to the party” (his quote to me)

Ron Recko
Past President, CHCA



Thanks to Acme in Flourtown

On Tuesday, April 6, the kind managers at the Acme supermarket in Flourtown donated surplus candy to the Veterans Hospital in

Coatesville. Manager Heather Rosa assisted me with loading my pickup truck with 11 cartons of candy. In turn, I delivered the candy to the VA center in Coatesville.

I want to acknowledge Jerry Cattie of Chestnut Hill for initially contacting the Acme managers. It was through Jerry’s effort that we were able to carry this mission through. Jerry Cattie is a World War II Navy veteran, and I, Jim Murt, am a World War II Army veteran. We thank the Flourtown Acme and its managers for helping us to help our fellow veterans at Easter time.

Jim Murt




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