Police, councilwoman keep block watch updated on activities
The Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch convened last Monday for its final meeting of the year, which was part succinct discussion of neighborhood plans and concerns and part holiday celebration.
Christine Luffy, Zone 3 police officer and block watch regular, opened the meeting with a recount of her Thanksgiving experience.
This year marked the fifth year in a row Officer Luffy lead the local “Get Stuffed with Love” project, which annually delivers Thanksgiving meals to anyone in need.
In addition to taking calls to process and set up delivery requests and announcing the project at neighborhood gatherings, Officer Luffy took a hands-on approach, delivering many of this year’s 1,031 meals herself. Though, she wasn’t alone when she delivered those meals—she was joined by other police and civilian volunteers, including her own 8-year-old daughter, Katrina.
After asking her mother for permission to address the block watch, Katrina explained she saw a lot of homeless people on Thanksgiving and was very concerned about their warmth and safety in the coming winter months. She said she would like to help them get pillows, blankets and coats.
In support of her daughter’s idea, Officer Luffy said she contacted the South Side Rotary to see if it would be willing to work with her on developing such a program. She isn’t wasting any time waiting for approval though, inviting residents to bring donations of winter-warmth items to the Zone 3 station, to be left in care of her name.
Next to speak was Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who came out to the meeting to update residents on some of projects she is sponsoring and/or considering for the new year.
As “a way of finding out how to strategically put resources into areas of need,” the councilwoman said her office is doing a public safety assessment of Brownsville Road, similar to what was done on Warrington Avenue in Allentown.
It is a goal of the assessment, she said, to discover where improvements to things such as lighting and alleyways access are needed, as well as to characterize and control crime hotspots.
According to Ms. Rudiak, Brownsville Road is also the subject of another study, a market analysis conducted by Economic Development South to evaluate what is and isn’t working in the area and to make business recommendations.
One area in particular, where Ms. Rudiak said she’d like to see some development, is in the vicinity of Colteryahn Dairy.
“Many people don’t know it’s the only operational diary in the city,” she said, before noting she’d like to see the area develop as a “dairy district” much like the “bread district” focused around Breadworks in the North Side.
A “dairy district” isn’t the only expansion looming on the horizon. Both Carrick and Overbrook are slated to feature new senior citizen housing complexes in the next couple years, said Councilwoman Rudiak. And, she added, both developers will be applying for the same government tax credit, which is given exclusively to developers of senior housing.
The senior residences are planned to sit on the old Giant Eagle lot on Brownsville Road in Carrick and the former Overbrook School lot in Overbrook.
Moving on to other topics, Ms. Rudiak reported she co-sponsored a property code enforcement bill called “Code Red,” whereby the Bureau of Building Inspection would identify and expose the top ten offending nuisance or neglected properties.
“They’d erect a large sign with the owner’s name, address and violations—right there in front of the property,” Ms. Rudiak stated. “It’s amazing what a little bit of personal shame can do.”
In the vein of making things personal, Councilwoman Rudiak closed her comments with mention of the billboards which are located throughout the city, showcasing her photo along with claims she wants to raise taxes.
Ms. Rudiak clarified that the specific tax she wants to raise is the billboard tax, which is what she considers a way of closing a corporate loophole.
“Local governments have been mandated by the state to find new sources of revenue,” she elaborated.
“Rather than tax the individual citizen, why not tax the corporation in an area that has otherwise been overlooked?”
Following public discussion, those in attendance were invited to enjoy treats and win prizes in a festive social that celebrated not only the holidays but also the yearlong efforts of the block watch and of the Carrick/Overbrook community at large.