Spruce Hill Community Association held its annual meeting earlier this month at the newly opened University City Chinese Christian Church (UCCCC), located at Walnut and 45th streets. Neighborhood residents had the chance to visit the new church as SHCA elected its board members. Monica Calkins, the former Chair of the Education Committee was elected president of SHCA, while the former president, Andy Lochrine, stepped down after holding the position for two years.
Martine Decamp, a city planner for the University City and Southwest region of Philadelphia, spoke about comprehensive planning and district planning for the city, as well as rewriting the zoning code. Proposed bike lanes for Chestnut Street were met with mixed feelings from the community.
“There’s always going to be not a hundred percent consensus on everything,” Decamp said. “But what we’ve tried to do with the plan is just tried to get as much public participation as we can, as many ideas from the agencies so that we could actually do something.”
Bill Burrison, a member of SHCA, suggested the plan for the bike lane be vetted more by the various communities of West Philadelphia. The city’s resources, he argued, could be better allocated for repairing aging infrastructure.
“I just think it’s a misguided sense of urban priorities for Philadelphia,” Burrison said.
When UCCCC isn’t lending its space to community organizations, it serves a congregation of about 140 people. The church had its first sermon in August. UCCCC also offers English classes on Tuesday nights and has a ten-room dormitory on the second floor for college students involved with the church community. The City School at Walnut Street rents space from UCCCC, where it teaches about 60 students in grades six, seven and eight.
“We are members of the community, so therefore we want to contribute in a positive way,” said Philip Siu, an elder at the church. “So if the community has events, we want to be part of it.”