South Philadelphia: Ted Savage Wants People To Know The Dickinson Square West Civic Association Exists Again

Although Dickinson Square West is a small neighborhood, the president of the Dickinson Square West Civic Association believes it is vital to have an organization that can represent and promote the ideas of the people in the community. The association’s president, Ted Savage, knows getting word out that the organization is once again alive has to come first.

What is the mission of the Dickinson Square West Civic Association?

The mission of our civic association, and most other civic associations around the city, is simply to promote and improve the well-being of the neighborhood. And to be able to represent the interests of as many people as possible in the neighborhood.  

How long have you been president of the association?

I have been president of the association for four years now. As a matter of fact, this association actually existed around 10-12 years ago but there was a lawsuit that came against the association and it kind of just fell apart after that. Then six years ago, a group of us from the neighborhood got together and rekindled the association. I served as secretary for two years before moving up to be the president of the association. And according to our bylaws, I can serve one more two-year term as president before I have to step aside.

How many people make up the board of the association?

There are currently nine people serving on the board of our association. We have a president, a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer and five directors.

What have been some accomplishments or highlights for the association in the last six years?

Just getting started up and organized as an association is a long process in itself and we take pride in completing that process. Just to have an organization that can represent and improve the neighborhood’s interests is very important to us. We had to get registered with the city, registered with the secretary of state, complete the application to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and we had to create bylaws for which would be the foundation of our association. The whole process to just become an association took about two and half years.

Then, in terms of events that we run in the neighborhood, one we are proud of is the spring clean-up in the neighborhood. When we started the spring clean-up we only had about ten people that came out and participated in the event, and now we have an email list of over 600 members that can come out and help with the event. We’ve just been able to get more people over the years to participate and every year the clean-up of our neighborhood is more successful.

We’re also proud of the formation of our association’s zoning committee. Any person that is looking to make a variance to a zoning ordinance in our neighborhood, must first go before our committee for it to be heard before it can be reviewed by the city’s board of adjustment.  

What do you feel like is the biggest problem or concern facing this neighborhood today?

The biggest problem we still face from the association’s standpoint is how to communicate and reach out to more people in the neighborhood. We have around 1,700 households in the neighborhood and only 400 members of our association. And that problem stems from the fact that we believe that nearly 40 percent of the homes in the neighborhood to have the internet connection.

Even being such a small neighborhood, it’s amazing how many people don’t even know we exist.

And how is the association looking to fix the problem of trying to reach out to more people?

We are currently working and are hoping that in the near future we can start sending out a publication. This publication would be distributed at least twice a year to every one of the households in the neighborhood. And by doing this, we hope it will encourage more people to come out and volunteer in the neighborhood and for people to come forward with ideas that they have on how to improve the neighborhood.

-Text and images by Minh Mai and Jacob Guzdek.

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