From the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Monday, March 19, 2001


Cheltenham seeks county revitalization money

The township wants public input to narrow priorities. The grant program offers up to $633,000 annually.

By Jacob Quinn Sanders

CHELTENHAM - The township is preparing a targeted revitalization plan to qualify for up to $633,000 annually from a competitive Montgomery County grant program. But local officials say they need help in determining priorities.

"If we're going to get the money from Montgomery County, we need to show them what we'll do with it," Township Manager David Kraynik said. "Without the public's input, I don't see how we can do that."

The township commissioners have decided to focus on two census tracts: one is in most of Glenside; the other includes the LaMott and Melrose Park neighborhoods and the Lynnewood Gardens apartment complex.

Last week, at the first of two meetings to cull public opinion, many of the 45 people in attendance floated ideas. Parking dominated the discussion, with other prominent issues ranging from parks and flooding to more police and dog waste.

The second meeting is set from 7 to 9 p.m. March 27 at the LaMott Community Center, 7420 Sycamore Ave.

Ed Halton, 72, lives on Lismore Avenue not far from SEPTA's Glenside station. He said many commuters used his block as a parking lot.

"It upset the hell out of me last week," Halton said at Wednesday night's meeting. "I parked in front of my house - illegally - because I couldn't park legally because of the railroad traffic. And I got a ticket in front of my own house. Cost me 15 bucks."

Mary Maloney, 48, of Bickley Road, complained about the steps leading from the Glenside station's platform, which she said were "dark, slippery, crumbling and never cleared of snow."

Mark C. Bristol-Evans of Doylestown-based Carter Van Dyke & Associates, which has been hired by the township to develop a plan, said one goal was to offer partnerships to local businesses, religious and community groups and regional entities such as SEPTA. Cheltenham residents, he said, should take a large part in any negotiations.

"Let's use township leverage to get SEPTA to do its job to take care of the problems it has that affect the neighborhoods," he said.

Steven L. Nelson, the county's deputy chief operating officer and a revitalization board staff member, said partnerships would help endear a municipality's plan to the county.

"This is the only county-funded program of its kind we know of in the region," Nelson said. "So we're very careful with it."

Partnerships can include neighbors who band together to resolve a particular issue. Karen Bower, 65, of Bickley Road, said the area near her house was a haven for dog walkers, many of whom do not clean up after their pets.

Applications for the county grants, created last year with $5 million, are rigorous, Nelson said. The county demands sections on housing, commercial districts, public safety, infrastructure and construction, then asks municipalities to prioritize their requests.

Four municipalities - Norristown, Pottstown, Ambler and Narberth - received grants last year. None received the full amount for which it was eligible, Nelson said.