Germantown: Community Meeting Caters to Concerned Citizens

This abandoned building located at 4817 Greene St., is just one of the many buildings posing problems in the community, as abandoned buildings are often used as illegal dumping sites and become a haven for trash.

Sitting in the community room in St. Francis of Assisi Church, located at 4821 Greene St., were nearly 50 people from Germantown. The individuals differed widely in age, but remained seemingly equal in the amount of interest they expressed toward their community.

This abandoned building, located at 4817 Greene St., is just one of the many buildings posing problems in the community.

The meeting, coordinated by West Rockland Street co-block captains Emaleigh Doley and Aine Doley, was put together to bring the neighborhood together and discuss issues. What started out as a modest effort to bring the neighborhood together turned into an exceptionally successful two-hour discussion and information session among individuals from southwest Germantown and both the governmental and area officials who help keep the community in order.

“This is our first meeting. We weren’t expecting this many people to come out at all. We had opened up the meeting to the rest of southwest [Germantown] and I can’t believe the outcome,” Emaleigh Doley explained.

The goal of the meeting was to bring individuals from the area together but also to discuss concerns of these individuals and provide them with information and resources to help the neighborhood prosper and for individuals to stay informed. The meeting featured speakers from Philly311, the Philadelphia Police Department and more.

The first to speak was Philly311 Contact Center Director Rosetta Lue. As a sort of spokesperson for Philly311—a toll-free service that easily allows for individual problems concerning the city to be addressed specifically and readily—Lue provided the meeting attendees with an overview of what Philly311 is and does. She then went on to address an inquiry about what the most common 311 call from Germantown is.

“Believe it or not, the most common call that we get from individuals in the Germantown area is about street-light outages. Were you expecting something different?” she jokingly asked back to the attendees.

Germantown resident Gerry Givnish poses with community meeting coordinator Emaleigh Doley after the meeting.

Perhaps the relatively informal nature of the interaction between the meeting goers and the first speaker set the stage for the tone of the meeting but following Lue’s time to speak, was a intelligent, humorous and honest engagement between the audience and speakers.

The next of five speakers started what was to be the emphasis of the rest of the meeting: a discussion about sanitation, neighborhood beautification and recycling. Philadelphia Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Carlton Williams gave a brief overview of what his position entails and went on to address an overwhelming issue among the attendees.

The issue that seemed to concern a great deal of the individuals in attendance was the quality of performance of sanitation workers in the neighborhood.

Recycling bins line the streets in this Germantown neighborhood.

More than a handful of individuals chimed in when one of the attendees talked of the mess of litter left behind every time trash is picked up in the area. There was a true consensus in regards to this concern, but Williams pacified this unease by informing the individuals of how to report the specific truck and crew to Philly311 in order for the problem to be properly recorded and addressed.

Chair of RecycleNOW—a project run by the Recycling Alliance of Philadelphia that acts to promote and expand recycling throughout the city—Maurice Sampson II encouraged active participation from the attendees when it was his turn to speak. He played somewhat of a game, having participants guess what items, which were shown to them, are recyclable, as opposed to ones that are not. Overall, the participants did alright but pushed for Sampson to come back and teach more to the community about recycling.

Police Community Relations Officer Carol Keys, as well as the district crime prevention officer, discussed options for addressing issues like illegal parking and other illegal activity in the area. The attendees were all extremely involved in all discussions and extemely excited for the next meeting.