Manayunk: March Neighborhood Council Meeting Covers PHS Beer Garden, PA Legislation, and Dog Parks

The PHS pop-up garden is located at 106 Jamestown Avenue in Manayunk. (PN/Margaret Mancini)

The Manayunk Neighborhood Council (MNC) recently met to discuss plans for a Philadelphia Horticultural Society beer garden opening for its second year at 106 Jamestown Ave. 

The meeting, held over Zoom on Wednesday, March 3, also featured MNC’s regular programming: legislative updates from state Rep. Pam DeLissio, as well as updates on area zoning permits, including plans to find a space for a public dog park in the neighborhood. 

Christina Tessaro from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society gave a presentation on plans to reopen the pop-up garden

Though its first year was tumultuous — Tessaro said that the original permit for the garden was approved shortly before Philadelphia’s lockdown last year — additional issues with licensing delayed the initial opening of the garden to September 2020. 

“We installed a pergola, lots of raised bed planters,” Tessaro said. “The design of many of our gardens are embedded from our programs. When you come and visit, you’re able to see a lot of our other programs throughout.” 

Christina Tessaro presenting a PowerPoint about PHS programs to the Manayunk Neighborhood Council. (PN/Margaret Mancini)

Though, as Tessaro mentioned, the 2020 garden season was short — running from September to November 2020 — PHS was still able to donate over 200 pounds of fresh produce. With this new season beginning in March and going through fall, PHS hopes to donate hundreds of pounds of produce. 

The Jamestown garden partners with Khyber Pass Pub and Cantinos Los Cabillitos, the same dining vendors that operate its South Street garden. 

“Our operating partners have signed on for the duration of our lease, which has been extended through 2024,” Tessaro said. 

Tessaro said PHS hopes to open the Manayunk pop-up garden by mid-April. 

In terms of greening the Roxborough and Manayunk areas outside of the pop-up garden, Tessaro said that PHS has been partnering with neighborhood groups to expand and encourage more planting in public spaces throughout the community. 

“We’ve been working with The Roborough Manayunk Conservancy and the Roxborough Business Improvement District for various different greening efforts,” Tessaro said. 

Other than the pop-up garden, Tessaro discussed plans to hold the PHS Flower Show from June 5-13, at an outdoor location in FDR Park. 

Tessaro also talked about the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Rain Check Program, in partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department, which offers homeowners a variety of stormwater management tools, such as rain barrels and permeable landscaping, to help limit pollution from residential runoff.

“We have a pretty robust network with Manayunk and we hope to plant more trees in Manayunk, Roxborough, and East Falls,” Tessaro said. 

Following the presentation from PHS, MNC members Caroline Post and Kate Raman presented a proposal looking for open space in the community for a dog park. 

The idea originated when Raman and Post noticed the yard at St. David’s Episcopal Church had become overrun with dogs, as it was largely unused when churches were vacant throughout much of Philadelphia’s lockdown last year.

Caroline Post explaining possible empty spaces for use as a community dog park. (PN/Margaret Mancini)

Post added that although the churchyard created a nice meeting area for dog owners in the community, it quickly became an issue for the upkeep of the space. 

“The churchyard, which is a small cemetery, became overrun with dogs,” Raman said. 

Post and Raman identified a few pockets of land in the community, including a relatively undeveloped segment of the Manayunk Bridge Trail. Many of the area dog parks, including the Roxborough Dog Park, are privately owned and operate under a membership fee system, they said.

“We are looking at these other parks and seeing what they’re doing well and what could be improved upon, and finding a space that fits the need of these dogs that are right in the area around the base of the Manayunk trail,” Post said.  

Following that, DeLissio — who regularly attends registered community organization meetings in Manayunk, Roxborough, and East Falls — explained details surrounding the Pennsylvania Emergency Declarations Amendment, one of the few measures to be included on voter ballots during the May 2021 primary election. If passed, the amendment would allow statewide emergency declarations to expire after 21 days unless extended by the Pennsylvania General Assembly

“The constitutional amendment ran pretty quickly through the legislature and is on the ballot,” DeLissio said. “I think they’re counting on very few people to show up at the primary and to vote affirmatively, as often is the case for constitutional amendments, so I ask that citizens vote and vote very thoughtfully.” 

DeLissio also discussed plans for legislation on congressional redistricting and increasing clarity around the redistricting process. While initial plans to bring in a third-party committee to oversee redistricting were not successful, DeLissio reassured MNC members that there is work being done to increase understanding around what is ordinarily an obscure process. 

“There is a transparency bill in the legislature to govern how congressional redistricting works to allow both the process to be transparent and allows for public input into the process, which currently is not the case,” DeLissio said. 

The redistricting bill, HB22, is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Wendi Thomas

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