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IN THIS ISSUE... TO APPEAL? Understanding AVI S K C P C ale n d a r Springtime in South Kensington! Zoning


P la n n i n g

Community Zoning Recap G r ee n i n g Tr e e C a r e C l u b Community LandCare Little Farmers of Finquita B e n s o n P a r k ’s N e w F a c e

B e y o n d B asketball I n t e r v i e w w i t h H a n c o c k R e c ’s Coaches S te w a r d s o f S o u t h K e n s i n g to n Equal Dollars Philly Spring Clean Saturday, April 13th, 10am-2pm Various locations in South Kensington; meet at 1301 N. 2nd St Help clean around the neighborhood and meet your neighbors! If you have submitted a site to SKCP, be sure to stop by to pick up your bags, brooms and gloves. Otherwise, come by the office, and we’ll send you to a site that needs volunteers. Potluck lunch @ 6th & Thompson following the clean up! Bring something to share - even if it’s a blanket! 1



SPRING SKCP-ING Celebrate Earth Day w/ South Kensington Gardens Saturday, April 20th, 10am-2pm

CALENDAR All meetings held at SKCP’s office unless otherwise indicated.

South Kensington Community Gardens invite you to take a tour of their various green patches, find out about upcoming programs and events, lend a hand to prepare beds for planting, and participate in family-fun activities!


Housing and Financial Literacy Workshop @ Concilio Keepin’ it Local =$ South Kensington


Philadelphia Spring Clean-up


Community Zoning Meeting


Earth Day Open House @ South Kensington Gardens 10am-2pm Cohocksink (Master + Mascher) La Finquita (Master + Lawrence) Tillmon (4th + Master)


Mulch Day Help mulch neighborhood trees!


Finquita Farmers in Training begins Tuesdays/Thursdays 4pm-6pm

M AY 5


La Finquita Farmstand Opens for the season; 438 W. Master St. Sundays from 10am-2pm LOVE Your Park Events @Hart and Benson




Finquita Farmers In Training A Farming Experience for Ages 8-12 Begins April 23rd Tuesday and/or Thursday, 4-6pm Sign-up today! La Finquita (The Little Farm)’s Cliff Brown and Kim Giannone will lead a series in organic gardening, beginning with 12 youth, ages 8-12, in a hands-on, full-season curriculum. Students will learn to grow produce, with some delicious successes, disappointing failures, and lots of fun. Classes will take place in a 25x60 foot classroom which students collectively plan, plant, care for, and harvest. The course will also feature “turnaround” classes, where students near the end of the program share their newly acquired skills with adults in open workshops on backyard gardening, organic pest control, harvest, post-harvest handling, and meal planning. Interested students will have the opportunity to continue their involvement by assisting with the seasonal “Little Farm Stand”run on-site. For more info and an application contact Natania at (215) 427-3463 or (201) 788-8158; email



HELP CARE FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOOD FOREST Let’s Prune! Join our Tree Tenders on Saturday mornings this Spring to train and prune our neighborhood trees. Experience is welcome but not necessary. Tools, gloves and instruction will be provided. Locations will vary. Contact greening@ or call 215-370-0099 for more info. Let’s Mulch! Mulch helps conserve water and control weeds, it keeps soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and helps your tree to look cared for (and hopefully respected by passer-bys). For Earth Day, Saturday, April 20th, SKCP will offer free mulch and instruction on how to weed and properly mulch your tree pits. Mulch your street tree, take care of your whole block, or assist a crew in making deliveries. Location of the mulch pile TBA.Contact greening@southkensingtoncommunity or call 215-427-3463 for details.



GREEN & GROUNDED BENSON PARK’S NEW ‘FACE’: Grant For “Playable Furniture” Awarded From PRA

we will be improving the space with interesting, well-designed objects; respecting the scale and Benson Park was awarded a grant from Philadelphia the desired uses of the Redevelopment Authority (PRA)’s Percent for Art space; and using the Program, entitled the park to bridge the various Fund for Art and Civic Engagement (FACE), which is cultures and generations intended to facilitate innovative works of public art and within the community. cultural programming that engage communities and Gap financing will enable Benson Park to have a new inspire individuals to think about their surroundings in “FACE,” which truly involves, defines, and unifies one new & exciting ways. of our invaluable public green spaces.“Benson’s New FACE” will serve as an early implementation phase of Benson stakeholders- the SKCP Office, Public a larger redesign process funded by Councilwoman Workshop, Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez, and Quinones Sanchez, which has been in the planning near neighbors- will collaboratively design and build stages for the past year and a half. playable park furniture--innovative seating for the park that provides places for adults to sit and young Schedule children to play. April-May, 2013: Furniture Design planning meetings Accommodating the needs of the various Benson with Friends of Benson Park Park users in the redesign of the park, especially given the tight budget for the renovation, has been a May 11th, 2013: LOVE Your Park – Park appreciation challenge. By working together to create seating that and planting event. Help landscape the park, enjoy both encourages young children to explore and play a selection of music from Benson neighbor and DJ while providing resting areas for the park’s adult users, Cookie Quinones, and celebrate a morning of hard work with an afternoon potluck and performance by Fuego Dance Company.

Late June, 2013 (after school is out): Begin building on site with neighbors Late July, 2013: Celebratory event for project’s completion

SKCP AWARDED COMMUNITY LANDCARE CONTRACT FOR SPRING/FALL 2013 SKCP has been selected to participate in the City of Philadelphia’s Community LandCare Program through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). Beginning in April, 125 parcels will be mowed and cleared of trash, weeds and debris monthly. The parcels were chosen from SKCP’s Vacant Land Database and ArcGIS map, which Director of Programs Natania Schaumburg developed over the past year. These tools have been incredibly useful in recording upto-date information about individual vacant properties in the neighborhood. Parcels were carefully selected for LandCare based on a variety of factors, including: current condition, accessibility, ownership and visibility. Priority was given to lots that have been a chronic nuisance to neighbors in recent years. Work crews comprised of local residents will be hired to maintain these parcels once a month until November, 2013. Community LandCare provides training opportunities to members of work crews interested in learning marketable landscaping skills.The list of 125 parcels is currently available on our website. An online map will be hosted in the coming month so neighbors can see the parcels designated for LandCare, and can help monitor their conditions. We invite neighbors without online access to stop in to the office to view the map and to call the office with any questions. SPRING 2013



APPE ALING YOUR UNDERSTANDING AVI The Actual Value Initiative (AVI) is an attempt to solve what has been years of broken and inaccurate property value assessment in the city of Philadelphia. A campaign originally created under the Office of Property Assessment (OPA), AVI seeks to re-examine the market values of properties based on the following criteria: size, age, location, condition and usage. The week of February 15th, the OPA sent out Notices of Proposed Valuation to property owners across Philadelphia. This is NOT a tax bill. Your property tax will be determined once a new tax rate is decided upon by Mayor Nutter and city representatives. So if that’s not my Property Tax Bill, what is? As part of passing a budget this spring, council will have to adopt a new property tax rate that takes into account the new assessments. The more money covered by exemptions, the higher the property tax rate must go to raise the same total for the city. Within the city and council, there are different camps — some prefer avoiding exemptions in order to set the lowest rate possible. Others are pushing for more generous exemptions and a higher rate. (MacDonald, “New report for City Council backs up Nutter Administration property tax assertions.” WHYY;; April 11, 2013;).

IMPORTANT DEADLINES: -PASSED March 31st, 2013: First Level Formal Appeal to OPA* *Although the deadline has passed for homeowners who received their letters in early F e b r u a r y, i t i s e x t e n d e d f o r t h o s e w h o r e v e i v e d a s s e s s m e n t s l a t e r. -June 30th, 2013: Property Tax/Rent Rebate for 2012 -July 31st, 2013: Homestead Exemption -October 7th, 2013: Second Level Application Appeal to BRT How can I project what my tax bills will be for 2014? To calculate your tax bills for 2014, take you property’s certified market value and multiple by the tax rate. As stated before, the tax rate is still undecided, but a projection has been made of 1.25% increase for those with Homestead Exemption and a 1.34% increase for those without. The easiest method for projecting your change in property tax is by using the AVI Calculator (online). Is there a chance that my property value is wrong? Yes. OPA has been reassessing properties across the city for the past two years and there is a chance that an assessment is outdated. Furthermore, while most properties are compared to similar entities, individual neighborhood characteristics and other factors may have allowed for an inaccurate representation. Do not be afraid to question your projected property value. What do I do if I believe my property value projection to be incorrect? If you can prove that the market value is too high or too low, or that the value might be accurate but inequitable, than you can formally appeal. (Deadline was March 31st for a first-level review of appeal through OPA - see above). Remember – your ability to pay your property tax cannot be taken into account when appealing your market value. Are there alternative tax relief programs/ programs available for low-income and/or senior citizens to assist with real estate taxes? Yes. See Page 5. (con’t on page 5) 4



P ROP E R T Y TA X A S S E S S M E N T LEVEL II APPLICATION APPEAL TO BRT REAL ESTATE MARKET VALUE APPEAL FILING INSTRUCTIONS FOR TAX YEAR 2014 Submit to: Board of Revision of Taxes (that’s right -it’s the same old BRT - they still deal with appeals) Deadline: Monday, October 7th, 2013 Where to get a form: Became available April 1st, 2013. You can download it at, stop in to SKCP and we’ll give you a copy, or call 215-686-4343 to have one sent to you. Processing time: For oral hearings, BRT will notify you in writing of your scheduled hearing date approximately 30-45 days in advance. Hearing: At the public hearing you will have the opportunity to present evidence, including photos, documents and witnesses, to support your opinion of your property’s fair market value. If you have any questions concerning the appeal process, please contact the Board of Revision of Taxes at or by phone at 215-686-4343.



Find out more about filing with BRT and about what your new Property Value Assessment will mean for your taxes. Or just come for the free spaghetti (we don’t judge). More details on Front Page.

PROPERTY TAX ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION Homestead Exemption is just one of the tax relief systems provided through the city. If eligible, homeowners who own and live in their property can reduce the taxable value of their home by up to $30,000. Remember to do so by July 31, 2013. Stop in to SKCP to receive an application.

PROPERTY TAX/RENT REBATE PROGRAM AVAILABLE FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PA The Property Tax/Rent Rebate LOW-INCOME AND LOW-INCOME program benefits eligible SENIOR CITIZEN INSTALLMENT Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; PLANS widows and widowers age 50 and Eligible low-income persons and older; and people with disabilities low-income senior citizens who age 18 and older. The program apply by March of the current tax expansion increased the income year can have their current year real limit from $15,000 to $35,000 (which LOW-INCOME SENIOR CITIZEN estate tax payments split out over excludes half of Social Security TAX FREEZE eight (8) monthly payments. Future income) for homeowners and Eligible low-income senior citizens, years’ real estate taxes will then be raises the maximum rebate for both who apply by October, can keep split over the full year into 12 monthly homeowners and renters from $500 their real estate taxes in the next payments. There is no need to to $650. The income limit for renters year and all future years from reapply for the program as long as is $15,000. increasing, whether due to changes the financial situation and ownership The deadline to apply for a rebate on in assessments or tax rates. There is status of the property does not property taxes or rent paid in 2012 no need to reapply for the program change. is June 30, 2013. To apply, you must as long as the financial situation and request an application or call ownership status of the property does not change. Stop in to SKCP 1-888-222-9190. for an application for call (215) 686-6442 for more info. SPRING 2013



PLANNING AND ZONING Community Zoning Meeting Recap January - march Wednesday, January 23rd Residents, business owners, 110 W THOMPSON [VOTE] (8- YES with provisos, 0 NO) GENERAL VARIANCE REVIEW: New construction of a condo duplex[already under construction] on a corner lot. Residents, business owners, and property owners within 1/4 mile of the project are eligible to vote.

and property owners within 1/4 mile of the project are eligible to vote.

1220 - 26 N 5TH [NO VOTE] HIGH IMPACT PROCESS: New construction of a 17unit condo development with ground floor commercial on a currently vacant lot. This is a preliminary meetingWednesday, February 20th residents, business owners, 1437 GERMANTOWN and property owners within [VOTE] (15- YES, 13-NO) 1/2 mile will be eligible to vote GENERAL VARIANCE on this project in April: REVIEW: New construction of a single 1300 - 54 N 2ND family live-work dwelling/ [NO VOTE] work space with frontage HIGH IMPACT PROCESS: on both Germantown and New construction of a Cadwallader on a currently 311-unit residential rental vacant lot. Residents, development with one business owners, and commercial space on a property owners within 1/4 currently vacant lot. This is a mile of the project are eligible preliminary meeting-residents, to vote. business owners, and property owners within 1/2 Wednesday, March 20th mile will be eligible to vote on this project in April. 1430 CADWALLADER [VOTE] (14- YES, 2- NO) GENERAL VARIANCE REVIEW: New construction of a 3-unit residential rental property on a currently vacant lot.

Join The Stewards Of South Kensington! Want to meet your neighbors and get involved in the community? Join the Stewards of South Kensington, a group of volunteers who help SKCP fulfill its mission of connecting the community to resources, the land and each other. Stewards help out at SKCP events, including greening projects and community meetings, and keep their neighbors informed about SKCP services and other resources. Steward Socials are a chance for neighbors with a shared interest in their neighborhood’s health to get to know each other.

Earn Equal Dollars! =D To say thank you for their contribution, we give Stewards Equal Dollars Community Currency. Equal Dollars is a non-interest bearing currency that rewards otherwise uncompensated services like volunteerism, skill-sharing, and charitable donations. Community currencies are used around the world as a way to keep money within communities. Who should use Equal Dollars? Everyone! The more Equal Dollars in circulation, the more beneficial they become. They are an effective supplement to your income, and are non-taxable for individuals. Even if you are economically secure, by using Equal Dollars you contribute to the whole community’s prosperity. Why should I use Equal Dollars? Because they are good for the community. They strengthen local businesses, foster neighbor-toneighbor interaction and can break the cycle of poverty. And they are good for you because they add to your wealth. How do I start using Equal Dollars? Sign up today! Drop in or call the SKCP office at 215-427-3463 and ask for Dan, or email Participating businesses currently include: Quince Café and Market; El Cafeito; Buzz Café M. London Furniture; Kiddie Kouture; Once Wed Again; Philly Kid Grafix; George’s Pizza; Trio’s Trattoria; Philly Homebrew Outlet (formerly Barry’s Homebrew)




BEYOND BASKETBALL Beyond Basketball: Coaching at Hancock Playground

confidence, and sportsmanship,” Coach Don adds. Serving as examples, Larry and Donald demonstrate a tremendous amount of respect for one another and work as a team to keep the program running strong. “He’s inside the lines, I’m outside the lines,” Larry explains, referring to their complimentary skills. Donald coaches players on the fundamentals of the game, while Larry handles scheduling, outreach and marketing, and travel arrangements when teams go on the road.

Interview by Daniel Harvester

Their partnership dates back to the mid-1990s. Larry, who just turned Coach Donald, left, and Coach Larry, sixty this March, has served as a right, know how to make a good team. mentor to young players since after Coaches Larry Vaughn and Donald college, when he helped kids in Mason grew up playing basketball his neighborhood of Brewerytown organize an indoor basketball club in Philadelphia. As lifelong fans during the winter. He convinced the of the game, the leaders of the principal of a local school to let the Hancock Playground Basketball boys play in their gym a few nights a Program know the positive influence that athletics can have on week, and asked a nearby grocery store to donate bottled water and a young person’s life. snacks. Some graduates of their program have gone on to professional basketball careers; Maalik Wayns played for the Seventy-Sixers until he was picked up by the Clippers and Tony Chennault, guard for Villanova, is one of several Hancock alum competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s “March Madness.” But good coaching is not limited to athletic success. Rather, Coach Larry believes, “education is first, sports are second.” He inspects the report cards of all his players to make sure they are excelling in their academics, as well as on the court. Players are also taught to respect each other and their community. “The program builds character, SPRING 2013

Coach Don, who grew up in Northern Liberties, played for a time in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) League and is a certified NCAA coach. Donald was coaching neighborhood kids without the support of an official league when he met Coach Larry, the newly hired Director of Hancock Recreation Center. Both were bothered by the lack of local opportunities for kids who wanted to play ball, and took it upon themselves to form a league. In 1999, Coaches Larry and Don were awarded a contract from the Sixers Neighborhood Basketball League (SNBL), which has been renewed every year since. In addition to the SNBL, which runs November-March, Hancock hosts a

Summer Basketball League which culminates in a highly-anticipated Tournament. Last year’s Tournament , supported by the Stop the Violence Increase the Peace Foundation, featured a half-time show with dancers and musicians from local schools. The coaches are extremely grateful for all the support they have received on their way to establishing the basketball program, including the SKCP office, which helped them write grants early on, the Penn Treaty Foundation, Hyperion Bank, George’s Pizza and SuperFresh. Despite all of their accomplishments, the dedicated coaches continue to strive to improve Hancock’s Basketball Program with each season. “The things you do here are beyond nine to five,” Coach Larry says. “I can’t do it forever, but I’ll do it as long as I can.”

Spring Baseball Clinic April 8th-12th Hancock Rec Center 147 W. Master Street Hancock Recreation Center will be hosting a baseball clinic for children ages 7 to 14 years old. This co-ed clinic will include fielding, base running, hitting, catching, and other basic skills needed to play baseball. The clinic will be instructed by Coach Carlos Ortiz. Register your child now. Call 215-685-9886 or 9877 or come into Hancock Rec Center for more information. Ask for Coach Larry.



CORAL STREETS ARTS HOUSE 2446-68 Coral Street Low-Income and Artist Housing Available Now accepting applications!

Coral Street is a close community committed to the advancement of the arts for each indiviual and the community at large. Artists and non-artists are welcome to be a part of this special community. Income restrictions apply. For more information and an application, visit

Want your ad here? 2,000 newsletter copies printed quarterly and delivered throughout South Kensington - and beyond! And you’ll be supporting SKCP, your favorite community organization! Contact 215-427-3463;

13 01 n . 2 n d s t re e t philadelphia pa 19122 t e l 2 1 5 . 4 2 7. 3 4 6 3 i n f o @ s o u t h k e n s i n g t o n c o m m u n i t y. o r g w w w . s o u t h k e n s i n g t o n c o m m u n i t y. o r g

The mission of the South Kensington Community Partners (SKCP) is to connect our community to resources and opportunities, the land, and each other. We act as, and encourage others to become, engaged stewards of the neighborhood. We advocate for responsible development that builds upon the physical, social, and economic fabric of the neighborhood. SKCP’s neighborhood boundaries are West Berks Street to the north, North Front Street to the east, North Sixth Street to the west, and West Girard Avenue to the south. The South Kensington Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) Service Area encompasses census tracts 127, 128, 129,130, 131, 132, 141, 142, 144, 156, and 157.

Spring 2013 Newsletter  
Spring 2013 Newsletter  

SKCP Spring 2013 Newsletter