Fiscal Board Approves Philadelphia’s 5-Year Plan

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia’s finances are improving and are likely to continue doing so through 2019.

The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) board made that optimistic determination Monday when it unanimously approved the city’s five-year plan.

The city’s fiscal overseers cautioned, however, that various risks were still associated with the Nutter administration’s long-term budget, including unresolved labor contracts, the School District’s fiscal crisis, and the pension fund.

Despite its concerns, PICA staff found enough good news in the five-year plan and in its most recent revenue reports to endorse that administration’s fiscal road map to 2019. So did the City Controller’s Office. Both the staff and the controller had recommended the opposite last year, for the first time in PICA’s history.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140722_PICA_likes_Phila__s_5-year_plan.html#qRukpGb4zKGUI7xu.99

Treetop Adventure Debuts At Elmwood Park Zoo, Norristown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN, PA— Has it been a while since you’ve swung through the trees like Tarzan?

Do you harbor a burning hunger to break free from your civilized cage and bond with nature in a fundamental way, even though your primal survival skills are a little rusty?

Designed for thrill-seekers of all ages, Treetop Adventure Park Philadelphia at Elmwood Park Zoo — created by Treetop Concept LLC — puts kids and adults through their aerial paces with multiple obstacle courses that are marked by challenging games and zip lines to satisfy the average athletic extremist.

For those not familiar with the exploit, a zip line is formed by a pulley suspended way up in the air on a cable, with the suspended adventure-seeker holding onto or being attached to a free-moving pulley by a harness.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140718/treetop-adventure-debuts-at-elmwood-park-zoo-norristown

Meter Tamperer Generates Probation For Defrauding PECO Of $346K

NORRISTOWN, PA — A Philadelphia man who tampered with utility meters to reduce some account holders’ monthly PECO electrical bills, to the tune of nearly $350,000, has generated some court supervision in connection with the five-county theft scheme.

Marcelino Cuadra Jr., 47, of Aramingo Avenue, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to seven years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to charges of corrupt organizations, theft of services and conspiracy to commit theft of services in connection with the meter tampering incidents that occurred in Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia counties between December 2009 and October 2012.

Judge Garrett D. Page also ordered Cuadra to complete 60 hours of community service as a condition of the sentence. Cuadra must pay $346,750 in restitution to PECO, the judge said.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20140714/meter-tamperer-generates-probation-for-defrauding-peco-of-346k

Changing Skyline: Is ‘Over-Success’ In Development Hurting Philadelphia?

English: 1616 Walnut Street Building in Philad...

English: 1616 Walnut Street Building in Philadelphia. On NRHP since October 17, 1983 1616 Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square East neighborhood of Center City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It wasn’t long ago that Philadelphia’s movers and shakers were lamenting that the city was being ignored by international retailers. Those chains finally discovered the city, and now they’re colonizing the shopping districts around Rittenhouse Square and the West Philadelphia universities at a stunning pace. Sometimes, the only way to be sure you’re not at the King of Prussia Mall is to look up at the sky.

Having gotten what it wished for, the city is starting to feel the first side effects of what New York urbanist Kent Barwick, former head of the Municipal Arts Society, identified as “the over-successful city.”

This may sound like an odd worry in a town that looks over its shoulder and still sees Detroit. It’s certainly great that the chains help draw throngs to Walnut and Chestnut Streets again. They’ve brought their stylish displays and uncovered the dormant charms of many old commercial buildings. Yet, there is a numbing sameness to much of the retail. You’ve seen identical mannequins in identical outfits perched in windows on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street, and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/inga_saffron/20140711_Is__over-success__in_development_hurting_Phila__.html#OwFqlzCPsHwibjmA.99

Police Probe 2 Overnight Killings In North Philadelphia

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia police are investigating two overnight killings that happened less than a mile apart in North Philadelphia.

The first happened shortly after 11 p.m., when a 53-year-old was beaten in the head with a blunt object outside a home on the 2800 block of North Fairhill Street, police said.

The exact weapon used wasn’t known, but police at the scene told reporters that witnesses reported seeing a man running from the scene carrying some type of metal object.

Police this morning identified the victim as Miguel Aguilar and said he lived on the block where he was killed.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Police_probe_2_overnight_killings_in_North_Philadelphia.html#ACJ6RB92h5orJZkM.99

Homeownership In Philadelphia Tumbles, Report Says

The homeownership rate in Philadelphia declined sharply between 2000 and 2012, primarily as a consequence of the prolonged and sweeping real estate downturn that followed the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006-07, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Although Philadelphia’s homeownership rate remains high among the nation’s 30 largest cities, the 7.1 percentage-point drop in owner-occupied units – from 59.3 percent to 52.2 percent, or by 47,082 – was surpassed only by Phoenix, which suffered record foreclosures and price declines when the market swooned, the Pew study shows.

Stagnant incomes, rising home prices, and tight credit, all products of the recession, have cut into owner-occupied numbers, the study showed.

In addition, young professionals who once were the chief source of first-time buyers are either wary of homeownership or burdened by student-loan debt.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140710_Homeownership_in_Philadelphia_tumbles__report_says.html#PLLsApVZLecmI3H2.99

Montco’s Lynnewood Hall Up For Sale

Lynnewood Hall (Peter A. B. Widener mansion), ...

Lynnewood Hall (Peter A. B. Widener mansion), Elkins Park, PA (1897–1900). Photo: May 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time and taxes have finally forced the owner of Lynnewood Hall, a grand Horace Trumbauer estate in Elkins Park, to put the property up for sale.

The listing appeared Monday on the real estate website Zillow.com for $20 million.

The sales pitch is short and sweet: “A true neoclassical revival masterpiece. … Main house 110 rooms. 70,000 sq. ft. of living space & 33.85 gated acres.”

The words, accompanied by an exterior photo, belie both the grandeur and the bittersweet history of one of Philadelphia’s largest intact Gilded Age mansions.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140710_Montco_s_Lynnewood_Hall_up_for_sale.html#So0Ei7q5wjUc2PUl.99

PHS Pop-Up Garden To Offer A Summer’s Worth Of Tropical Entertainment

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has transformed a vacant space into a lush hangout spot, perfect for leisurely summer afternoons and evenings. This year’s PHS Pop-Up Garden sits at 1438-46 South Street (next to the Jamaican Jerk Hut) and officially opens on Tuesday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m. and remains open seven days a week until mid-October.

The garden itself is open to the public starting at 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, 2 p.m. on Saturdays and noon on Sundays while food and drink will be served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, 2 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Expect tropical cocktails, craft beer, a changing group of food trucks and Caribbean menu items from the Jamaican Jerk Hut.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/PHS-Pop-Up-Garden-to-offer-a-summers-worth-of-tropical-entertainment.html

Dietz & Watson To Build $50M Complex In Tacony

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cold-cuts maker Dietz & Watson will build a $50 million, 200,000 square-foot trucking and distribution center on a large tract between the company’s Tacony Street headquarters and the old Frankford Arsenal on the Delaware River, Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter confirmed this morning.

The deal was first reported from industry and city sources June 18 in The Inquirer.

The center will employ 110 who will pack and ship Dietz & Watson and Black Bear-brand meats and cheeses. Another 50 or more jobs will be created as the facility expands, Corbett said in a statement.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140625_Dietz___Watson_to_build__50M_complex_in_Tacony.html#pcbr39xshytokp7S.99

Philly Orchard Project Raise Money For A Greener, Healthier City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up in Philadelphia, if my family wanted to visit a farm or an orchard to pick our own fruits and vegetables, we had to get in the car for a long ride. In more recent years, however, there has been a push to provide more green spaces and more community gardens and orchards that would help provide healthier food options to urban neighborhoods, especially those where food scarcity is a serious issue. Since 2007, the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) has been working with community-based groups and volunteers to plan and plant orchards in the city.

On Saturday, June 28 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Friends of Philadelphia Orchard Project and Sedgley Woods are holding a fundraiser to support the work POP has been doing. At this family-friendly event, you are invited to come learn how to putt, and drive discs from golfers of Sedgley Woods in East Fairmount Park. Tickets start at $15 and include a free POP pint glass. Children under the age of 12 are free.

The money raised will allow POP to continue its work planting orchards in vacant lots, community gardens, schoolyards as well as other urban locations. So far they have supported 46 orchards and have planted 36 orchards and 697 trees. Their bounty has included apples, asian pears, cherries, figs, peaches, pears, plums, berries, grapes and kiwi.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/Friends-of-Philadelphia-Orchard-Project-raise-money-for-a-greener-healthier-city.html#YSTwwDPt0Kf8c3XE.99

SEPTA Regional Rail Strike Begins; Corbett To Seek Federal Help

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA railroad engineers and electrical workers went on strike early Saturday, halting commuter rail service in the Philadelphia region, after last-ditch efforts by federal mediators failed to break an impasse in the long-running labor dispute.

The strike shut down 13 Regional Rail lines that provide 60,000 passengers with 126,000 rides on a typical weekday. That promised to snarl already clogged highways with additional cars and to hamper commuters and their employers throughout the region.

Service on SEPTA’s buses, subways, trolleys and the Norristown High-Speed Line – which carry about 85 percent of SEPTA’s riders – were not affected.

Gov. Corbett was prepared to ask President Obama to quickly appoint a presidential emergency board to mediate the rail labor dispute. Under federal railroad law, the creation of such a board would compel the workers to return to the job for 240 days.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140614_Last-ditch_talks_pending_as_Regional_Rail_strike_looms.html#v26c8poq4F1xhoJB.99

2 Arrested In Pottstown Murder

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Two men were arrested Friday for the murder of Steven Mitchell, who was found dead in his car on June 5 in the 400 block of Jefferson Avenue.

John Anthony Parson Jr., 18, of Pottstown, and Tyron Joab Witherspoon, 22, of Philadelphia, both face murder, robbery and conspiracy charges, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Parson was arrested Friday morning in Lower Pottsgrove and Witherspoon was arrested in Philadelphia, the D.A.’s office said.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, a witness told police Mitchell was shot in Liberty Alley during a transaction where a group of people intended to buy crack cocaine and a 9 mm handgun.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140613/2-arrested-in-pottstown-murder

Century 21 Store Owner Pledges To ‘Alter The Retail Landscape’ In Center City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eddie Gindi met the family Tuesday. No one who ever pledged to a loved one could have been more solicitous.

Executive vice president and co-owner of Century 21, the latest and, arguably, most exotic retailer to commit to Philadelphia, Gindi promised success, devotion and a boundless future.

“We are honored to be part of Philadelphia,” he told an enthusiastic crowd at the Union League. “We want to alter the retail landscape here.”

And more.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140611_Store_owner_pledges_to__alter_the_retail_landscape__in_Center_City.html#8bM5ZjttKxmE5Gsc.99

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Misuse Of $210K Handled Quietly By Philadelphia’s Marketers

The chief financial officer of the region’s publicly funded marketing agency, Visit Philadelphia, embezzled $210,000 over five years, but was permitted to resign quietly when she agreed to pay back the money.

Joyce Levitt, according to Visit Philadelphia’s federal tax forms, left her job in February 2012 after the misuse of funds was discovered. Law enforcement was never notified of the problem with the money.

Levitt currently is director of finance at Benefits Data Trust, which, like Visit Philadelphia, is a nonprofit organization.

Levitt said in an interview that she resigned after “a disagreement over how money was being spent.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140606_Misuse_of__210K_handled_quietly_by_city_s_marketers.html#1xDR0GDw5aZHFqmK.99

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Montgomery County Community College To Host ‘The History Of Montco: A Documentary’

Joe and Sean 1

Photograph: Montgomery County Community College Alumni Joseph Sapienza, Philadelphia, (left) and Sean King, North Wales, will be sharing their video, “The History of Montco, a Documentary,” on Friday, June 27, at 6 p.m. at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.—As part of its yearlong celebration of its 50th Anniversary, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) invites the community to the premier public screening of “The History of Montco: A Documentary,” on Friday, June 27, at 6 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. The screening is free of charge—everyone is welcome. Light refreshments will be served. To RSVP, call 215-641-6324 or email dyerkey@mc3.edu by June 18.

The documentary is directed and produced by MCCC alumni Joseph Sapienza, Philadelphia, and Sean King, North Wales, who began the project a few years ago while they were students at the College.

“The documentary really began as a one or two minute news package on the construction of College Hall,” King says. “After looking through some photos, we decided to expand the project to cover more of the history of Montco. From there, it snowballed into a feature length documentary.”

The video starts in Conshohocken, where the College opened its doors in early October 1966—almost two years after it was officially established on December 8, 1964. Through interviews of current and former faculty, staff and administrators, King and Sapienza captured the spirit and tenacity of an ever-evolving, growing educational institution that has become the alma mater of more than 55,000 alumni.

After years of preparation, hard work, research, and the desire to make their idea a reality, they completed an entertaining, informative movie that is a testament to their accomplishments and to the story about the college.

“It was a long process. We started pre-production in July of 2011 and the film didn’t go into editing until the summer of 2013,” Sapienza says, recalling the many hours of research, interviews, recording and editing.

The movie is about two hours long. During the intermission, Sapienza and King will be available to answer questions about the process of creating the Montco documentary.

Sapienza began his studies at Montgomery County Community College in the winter of 2010 in the Film and Video program. In fall 2012, he then transferred to the Film and Television program at Drexel University earned his bachelor’s degree in May 2014. With films, one of his favorite subjects is documentaries, especially documentaries involving history. For his senior project at Drexel, Joe produced a history documentary about the coal town, Centralia, and its ongoing underground mine fire. Following graduation, he started an internship with NFL Films.

King studied Communications at Montgomery County Community College, focusing on Journalism. While he was at the College, he was involved in numerous campus activities, including the Communication Arts Production Group and Montco Radio. After graduating in 2012, he started studying History and Political Science at Arcadia University, focusing on contemporary American history and politics. When he completes his bachelor’s degree, King plans to pursue a job in government.

For more information about Montgomery County Community College’s 50th Anniversary, visit http://www.mc3.edu/50.

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Civil-Rights Lawsuits Against Philadelphia Police Spiked In 2013

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ON A WARM night in Overbrook, Askia Sabur spotted his cousin outside a Chinese takeout and pedaled his bicycle over to chat.

Within minutes, Sabur lay bleeding and barely conscious on the sidewalk, as a crowd of cops – several with long histories of brutality complaints – beat him, opening gashes on his head that would require six staples to close.

In West Philadelphia, Stephen Moore was watching TV alone in his bedroom when his home-security system announced his front door was open.

Moore went to investigate, only to be pumped full of lead by a cop who started firing after entering the house without saying a word.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140529_Civil-rights_lawsuits_against_police_spiked_in_2013.html#Z2gTxwAxgpOQ9olL.9

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Home Values In Philadelphia Region Tumble, Analysis Shows

Full recovery continued to elude the Philadelphia region’s residential real estate market in the first quarter of this year, as the value of a typical home fell 4.9 percent from the last three months of 2013.

University of Pennsylvania economist Kevin Gillen, who analyzed data from 11 area counties for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, said Tuesday that with the latest decline, average house prices in the region are “barely above the post-bubble bottom they hit two years ago.”

While sales of 11,000 houses regionally was 10 percent above the same quarter of 2013, the numbers are 41 percent below what Gillen considers the “normal historic average.”

Suburban price declines were greater than the city’s during the quarter – 5.3 percent versus 4 percent, Gillen said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140528_Home_values_in_region_tumble__analysis_shows.html#xlQrIJ1HYPRfOJyx.99

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Businessman Lewis Katz Buying Philadelphia Newspapers

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building ...

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building in Philadelphia, PA. Taken from North Broad and Callowhill Streets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Businessman Lewis Katz and philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest will take over Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers from their partners with an $88 million auction bid.

Katz and another businessman, George Norcross, had bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philly.com news website for $55 million in 2012. But they began feuding and competed to take control at Tuesday’s auction.

Katz made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York. He supports the investigative reporting favored by current Inquirer editor Bill Marimow.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/business/20140527/businessman-lewis-katz-buying-philadelphia-newspapers

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New Jersey-To-Philly Commuters Face Rough Summer

A PATCO Speedline train pulls into Woodcrest s...

A PATCO Speedline train pulls into Woodcrest station, heading towards Philadelphia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) – Commuters between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia are in for a rough summer.

Work on the tracks and electrical systems on the PATCO Speedline will mean a less frequent schedule for the train line used by 40,000 per day and closed car lanes on the Ben Franklin Bridge, which carries trains – and 100,000 cars daily – over the Delaware River,

“I have no choice but to catch the train because the parking is horrible and expensive over there,” Juanita King, who works as a scheduler at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital, said before she hopped on her train recently at Camden’s Ferry Avenue Station, a popular place for park-and-ride customers from Camden and Gloucester counties.

A round-trip ride from there is $4.50 a day and most of the parking is free.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140525_ap_f585186901dd4e639c628853a7f38cd5.html#hVeJsZcKJYLOL6tO.99

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Gains And Losses In Philadelphia Region’s Population

A number of communities in the region’s Pennsylvania suburbs, notably in Chester and Montgomery Counties, grew substantially between April 2010 and July 2013, Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday show.

In Chester County, there were noteworthy upticks in municipalities such as Malvern, West Chester, East Brandywine, and West Goshen, and the same was true in Chester/Delaware County border towns such as Bethel and Chadds Ford. In central Montgomery County, Upper Hanover, Towamencin, and Salford were among the burgeoning towns.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia remained the fifth-largest U.S. city, with a population estimated at 1.553 million through July 2013, an increase of just over 27,000 from April 2010. It was the seventh year in a row of population growth, the census data showed.

(Population estimates for neighborhoods within the city limits will not be available until December.)

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140523_Gains_and_losses_in_Phila__region_s_population.html#MHpPEge1UgkCE6DR.99

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