July 8, 2010

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For CHCA, words match actions

In every community, development and zoning issues are the most contentious. In Chestnut Hill, your CHCA committees and ultimately your board give greatest weight in evaluating them to the genuine interests of nearby neighbors.

Regarding the proposed dialysis center, Dr. Pizzano errs in maligning as “pontification” what I accurately say: “We as a community organization who represent and serve primarily the residents of Chestnut Hill would of course ourselves have imposed the condition which certain nearby neighbors advocated but for the one fact that the DRC and then the board understood that that additional condition would have severely jeopardized the entire development, which development the community and the neighborhood so need.” [“For CHCA, words don’t match actions,” Letters, June 24]

Inaccurately claiming that CHCA has “time and again” sided with special interests against near neighbors, he apparently refers to our support for the little add-on variance for the Good Food Market. That was a reasonable “judgment call,” which we felt was for the benefit of the community. Reasonable people are entitled to disagree. We regret the demise of that market.

CHCA seeks no disputes with anyone. Proselytizing for the virtually non-existent CHRA (five people attended in June with no nearby neighbors to discuss either the proposed dialysis center or the former Good Food Market), Dr. Pizzano fails to tell you that no one from the CHRA appeared to say a word before the board in May when it was required to consider the dialysis center. They have no expert or other review process, no staff, no office, no anything. All they do is move in when they smell some controversy and seek to exploit it to undermine the CHCA. They are really nothing but the anti-CHCA – no basis for a real community organization.

Walter J. Sullivan
CHCA President

$75,000 for what we already knew

“Chestnut Hill will never be what it used to be,” So sayeth the esteemed retail consultants hired to cure the ills of the Avenue [“Retail consultant says Avenue makeover will take time,” July 1]. As a resident of Chestnut Hill for 20 years, I can’t fathom the glory of the Avenue of lore, but I recall the passing of the chains that we apparently didn’t want at all.

The consultants were brave enough to say that: (1) Chestnut Hill, by itself, can only support 10 percent of its retail, (2) Some of our stores are “weak,” and their leases should not be renewed, (3) Our stores need cosmetic improvements, (4) Our stores need to be “more inviting … engaging … accommodating,” (5) We need more restaurants (from Rex Avenue to Mermaid Lane) and (6) Services (offices and banks) need to move off the Avenue.

While I applaud their frankness, the results of their study offer no new insights. They miss the fact that they have no control over the decisions of the individual property owners (past or present) that have only looked at the short-term bottom line. They advocate a five-year plan with no structure that would entertain success. The last group to do that was the USSR.

While I applaud their willingness to say what others have denied, I can’t see why six months of study was needed to see the obvious. I also can’t see in these times of economic challenge where their $75,000 fee came from, or why it was spent.

And yet, we have an apparently excited retail recruiter, to find, after a year or two, those exciting new tenants that likely can’t go into whatever store they want to because they need a variance … like a restaurant into the former investment brokerage … now gone.

Eileen Reilly apparently has the energy to sell what she cannot deliver.

Ed Budnick
Chestnut Hill


Sour grapes

Goodness! What sour grapes Laura Pritchard serves up in her commentary to the glowing article about Barbara Allen [“‘Fresh Artists’ is well-intentioned “exploitation” June 24], her dedicated team and their hard work via “Fresh Artists” to provide art materials to the underfunded public schools.

Although Pritchard claims that “Not all children … are going to grow up to be artists,” she seems to ignore the fact that not all art school graduates are going to produce good or successful art. By wishing to deny the right of children whose talent – even if it is, to quote Ms. Pritchard, “usually a ‘flash in the pan,’” – to have their work hanging on the walls of corporate headquarters, does not dignify her own oeuvre in any way. Maybe she should get a better dealer, or be more pro-active about contacting corporations with her own ideas; however, even in the fickle art market, the customer is always right. 

 Furthermore, where is the “exploitation” in a nonprofit process where the young artists are the winners? The Fresh Artist concept can hardly be accused of misinformation, based as it is on integrity by maintaining open lines of communication with the teachers, pupils and their parents. Ms. Pritchard’s whining attempt to denigrate Allen’s commendable efforts to kindle the flame of enthusiasm for art in children who are only “profiting” indirectly, didactically, from the corporate sponsorship of their works instead of her own, does neither herself nor any self-respecting professional artist any credit.

Stefanie Winkelbauer
University of Applied Arts, Vienna


‘Fresh Artists’ should be celebrated

Please add my name to the letters to the editor of last week who wrote to protest the statement that “children’s art is a flash in the pan.” In my experience as an art teacher to children for over 20 years, I have seen consistent and beautiful art from young students time and time again. Unlike a lot of adult art, the work of children is uncontrived and intuitive and that is what makes it fresh.

“Fresh Artists” is the perfect name for Barbara Allen’s organization. Last month I was fortunate to attend a gathering of students, parents, and Philadelphia public school teachers to affirm the children’s creativity. The work that this organization is doing is anything but exploitative and should be applauded not criticized. The smiles on the children’s faces, the gratitude the teachers have for materials now available to them through “Fresh Artists,” and the pride of the students’ families are indeed cause for celebration!

I invite you to visit the “Fresh Artists” website.

Lucretia Robbins


Thanks from Geechee Girl

We at Geechee Girl would like to thank all of our friends who attended the 4th of July barbecue in memory of our mother, Jessie Erwin. Your presence made it a warm and wonderful community event that would have made our mother proud. We also want to thank you for your support of Vivienne Lawrence, this year’s recipient of the proceeds of the barbecue. Vivienne, a recent St. Joe’s graduate, will be using the money to pay filing fees for her to become a permanent resident of the United States.

Valerie Erwin
Alethia Erwin
Geechee Girl Rice Café






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