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REALITY CHECK: If you’ve ever suspected that folks here with the big houses on leafy streets feel they should have more say in their neighborhood — Scott Cameron (Netherfield Rd) agrees that only property owners can ever really understand East Falls.  (Language advisory)

EastFallsLocal 6-12 Netherfield survey 2 sienna focus Serenity Now nether

Seems the McMichael playground issue has set off an email explosion! The admin for the popular Facebook group “I’m From East Falls” had to call a moratorium on all discussion after dueling petitions clogged the timeline — and her inbox.

“OMG Carolyn,” her message started, “It’s been insane the last few days!!” Apparently, her inbox had been blowing up with messages from group members who missed the stories & photos, and did not enjoy reading comments from pro or anti playground folks, beating a dead horse.  

Since the petitions re-surfaced last week, complaints about uncomfortable division and debates flooded in. Other folks accused the group of unfairness, and favoritism.  Finally, she declared the group a “No Playground Discussion” zone. 

We feel her pain. We’ve had our own little firestorm of emails from people accusing us of neighborhood sabotage or ignorance (often both) — or seeking to spiral our feed down the same never-ending rabbit holes.

So ready to put this subject to bed! But then Scott Cameron expressed in an email (shared below) what many playground advocates suspect: that the near neighbors don’t trust anyone but themselves to know what’s best for the neighborhood. We think it’s important to drag Scott’s comments into the public spotlight, where we can all take a good look at ’em.

EastFallsLocal netherfield scott mcmichael park txt

From: Scott Cameron
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2016 11:07 AM
To: Steve Fillmore
Subject: Re: Your editorial is up

Steve,

Boy oh boy are we setting ourselves up for a bitch of a fight. The “New” East Falls with it’s crowing glory Ridge Flats and all the amenities of South Street.

And hey — while we’re at it, let’s fuck up McMichael Park.  It’s our park, isn’t it? The majority will decide what’s good for the three acre [sic] parcel of open land, the last remaining open space in the entire community.

And come on. Isn’t a playground worth more to us than open ground? Of course it is!

And while you’re at it, let’s have a dog park, and oh, three or four basketball courts for the youth up the street, and maybe a public rest room, and a Italian Ice vendor…oh and music. The kind that needs big speakers and maybe a gazebo.

Oh…the neighbors around McMichael Park…who cares?!

There goes the neighborhood.

Power to the people.

All my best,
Scott Cameron

EastFallsLocal collage scott cameron email steve

From: Scott Cameron
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2016 10:06 PM
To: Steve Fillmore
Subject: Re: Continuing the conversation

Steve,

I’m fine with it in principal, unless I’m the whipping-boy for a “progressive” development group set on evicting the “residential conservatives” whom actually have the most to lose. It seems with Ridge Flat’s that a good number of people feel this is the time to set East Falls on it’s ear and import change for change sake… (Ed note: Ridge Flats comments edited for brevity)

You have to be a property owner to realize just how special a community East Falls is. Only we have to contend with people who frankly are here for an hour, but want every conceivable amenity while they’re residing here.

The same people who now live in East Falls and who are the most vocal about “progressive” change will also be the first group of people who leave East Falls for the leafy suburbs as soon as they’ve destroyed their own back yard…

Enough said,
Scott Cameron

wait what

What do you think — does Scott have a point in his emails? Do homeowners in big houses have more right to control development in the area? Is a McMichael playground the beginning of the end for this neighborhood’s character? For East Falls in general?

In case it matters, a little comparison between Scott and us:

EastFallsLocal 6-12 Netherfield Scott cameron collage text road value

Scott lives on Netherfield Road (since 2013) very close to McMichael Park, on a shaded, winding road with large, single-family homes on green plots — many over half an acre. When we swung by recently to grab some photos of the area, we were hard-pressed to find a good survey angle because so many of the houses here are obscured behind walls and landscaping. (Buried utility lines here, too, swaaaaanky!)

EastFallsLocal gypsy lane collage exterior text

On the other side of town, Steve and I have a mortgage on a one-bedroom unit with den/office in Gypsy Lane Condos, off Schoolhouse Lane. PhillyU’s Ravenhill campus is right across the street, and Wissahickon trails pick up down the hill.  A nice little spot, perfect for us.

Do we count as property owners, I wonder? Where, exactly, is the line between “neighbor” and “squatter” in East Falls?

We don’t usually print straight-up editorial pieces (we favor “editorial posts” with links and/or images that can inform or enlighten our readers). We’re sharing Scott’s emails because they shed light, we feel, on the 800 lb gorilla at the heart of the McMichael debate:  there’s a hell of a lot of entitlement in East Falls, people. And shocking distrust of fellow neighbors.

Maybe it’s time we called each other out on it? Get it out of our system?

EastFallsLocal playground meeting PPR

Cause at the end of this month, tempers will need to be checked or all Hell’s gonna break loose at the Open Forum on McMichael’s playground. Last time the community discussed this topic, there was such angry backlash many from the original effort have told us they’re “still a little scarred.”

Not this time, ok? Let’s have a real conversation, and listen to each other with open minds and trust that, chances are, your neighbors are good people trying to help the community. Camera’s will be rolling, Curtis Jones and the Commissioner from Phila Parks & Rec will be there.

Hopefully, we’ll all present well, and give local leadership a lot to think about when considering support for the proposed natural play space.

EastFallsLocal scott cameron collage

PS/FYI:  Scott Cameron is a neat dude — a “Luminist” painter, who shows a lot of work in New England art galleries, and was featured in June 2006’s American Art Collector. He also apparently has some city planning experience too, and no doubt could add a lot to local conversations on growth and development. Too bad he’s not interested in persuading us, or sharing what he knows.

Today’s audiences seek open conversation. We want to engage and collaborate. Challenging someone’s viewpoints isn’t an act of war — it’s an opportunity to rethink our positions, and learn together. Here’s hoping Scott comes around to appreciating not just his neighborhood, but his neighbors.

(Even the ones who openly criticize him online — we snark cause we love!)

EastFallsLocal collage lets be friends

WARNING!  Sometimes after considering all sides of a situation, you find that  you’re on the wrong side, or that some of the people on your side are idiots or maniacs or both. RELAX! Being a yucky neighbor is totally reversible. Changing your mind is not a sign of weakness, but growth. So is trust.  We’ll soon have a chance to demonstrate this really is a New East Falls.

VENTING HELPS  Spew your toxins at East Falls Rants,* a new public Facebook group for local negativity of all kinds. (You’re welcome!)

*mostly kidding

 

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. Allison O'Callaghan

    The condescension and snark needs to be curbed. An East Falls Rants FB page is trashy and only serves to fuel any debate. Mr. Cameron has only been a Fallser for three years. The “old guard in the big houses” can’t be blamed for everything.

    • Carolyn Fillmore

      Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry you’re not a fan of our “snark” — we mean to present light-hearted and informative coverage & commentary. The “Rants” page is meant to be a joke, we tried to make that obvious in the group description but I am happy to clarify that here. Nowhere in this post is “old guard” mentioned, we totally agree East Fallsers in big houses cannot be blamed for everything. Much as we would love it! 🙂

    • Becky K

      I have to agree with Allison regarding the “rants” page. I am a new resident of East Falls, my family just moved here 6 months ago from out of state. I must say that I am a little disappointed with what I have been reading on social media, especially the blogs and comments on this site, and now a rant’s page? Wow! The only social media account that is “friendly” and “inviting” is the I’m from East Falls page. Coming out of state, I had to do my homework when my husband got a job offer in the city. What better way to research than to see what people are saying about the neighborhoods? One of the reasons why my family did not decide to move to the Roxborough area was because of a Rant’s page. I have some friends who live in that area that I went to college with. I could not believe all of the bickering and name-calling people were doing towards each other on that page, is that the kind of neighborhood I want to raise my child in? I’m not so sure. I really hope I did not make the same mistake with moving to East Falls 🙁

      • Carolyn Fillmore

        Thanks for your opinion, but I respectfully (not snarkily!) disagree. People take themselves waaaaaay too seriously sometimes. I’m sorry you’re offended by the idea of a “Rants” page. Some people enjoy reading other’s funny comments about the neighborhood — and commenting themselves. Totally cool if you’re not into that! But to seriously reconsider moving to East Falls because of a Facebook page…??! Wow. Just wow.

        What some people call bickering & name-calling, others call spirited discourse. If your skin’s too thin to participate in a “Rants” page, then please don’t follow it. If you’re too controlling to appreciate that some of your neighbors enjoy humor & hyperbole in social media, maybe you could take a breath and remember not everyone agrees with you. And that’s OK!

        Finally, welcome to East Falls! The “tone” in our pages is meant to be lighthearted and playful — and informative. In addition to our commentary, we provide video so if you don’t like our voice, you can still catch up on what’s going on in the neighborhood. For free! Whatta service!!!

        You’re welcome!

      • Steve Fillmore

        Hi Becky: Welcome to the Falls! Smart move to research the neighborhood. Since we’ve been around almost two years, you’re certainly familiar then with the tone of our blog. If you choose not to read it, that’s fine. There’s always Nextdoor for staying in touch and getting info about the neighborhood, though I’m sure you’ve seen that Nextdoor can get a little testy too — McMichael playground being a prime example. But that’s only natural IMO; these are important issues and talking them out sometimes means heated disagreement. We shouldn’t be afraid of that. In fact, I think it’s worse not to talk about these issues or to insist on a certain tone in discussing them — but your mileage may vary on that score. Re the Rants page, I’m still puzzled that anyone could take it seriously. Did you read the description?

  2. Terry

    I agree with Mr. Cameron that many of these people who brought this issue to light will be leaving EF when it no longer suits their “urban” needs. When they have children who are school age that need to attend a school, if our private schools appear to be a financial burden for them. They’ve done the urban life and are ready to move on. Like Mr. Cameron said, often destroying their own back yards. Or ours…

    Pointing out the area in which Mr. Cameron resides is neither here nor there. Living in bigger houses with more land closer to the park means nil. What he is saying is that home owners, who lay down roots, need to have a say. As they may finish out their lives here. (Not saying some of the people who brought this issue up DON’T own homes).

    I agree with the snark comment above^. No one mentioned anything about “squatter” yet, it seems as though you chose such a language to invite people into an argument…

    • Carolyn Fillmore

      Hello and thank you for your comment! When you say you feel folks will abandon EF after urbanizing it, on what basis are you making your conclusion? A little research on sustainable urban living models supports exactly the opposite, in fact. Seriously! Go ahead and google. I’ll wait.

      I’m afraid you are missing the point of why we compared where we live to Mr. Cameron’s area: the differences we highlight are intended to be moot. You are correct, IT DOES NOT MATTER where people live, or how well they live, or long they’ve lived here, or how much money they spend here…

      There’s no point in trying to lump people who live in a certain part of East Falls all together — that’s a disservice to the unique and very special diversity we enjoy here. How does it help build community, to judge our neighbors? How can we learn & grow from each other, if we so easily make assumptions that diminish the value of a whole demographic’s input?

      I’m SO GLAD viewpoints such as yours & Scott’s are by far in the minority in this neighborhood. Just kills me that you want to live in a place where homeowners feel so justified in what, to me, is an outrageous degree of snobbishness and entitlement. Can you guys even hear yourselves?

      Not surprised you’re down on my snark — extra props, then, for reading this thru and chiming in.

      • Terry

        YOU, Carolyn, are judging neighbors by calling them snobbish and entitled. YOU, Carolyn, have continuously judged people in this area for having an opinion different than yours and your partners on this forum. Your “snark” is just a mere representation of that. When you speak of this urban model, is the study or data in which you referred to a study of East Falls, Philadelphia? Or Philadelphia as a whole? All urban neighborhoods across the nation? What are the variables? I’ll wait.

        • Carolyn Fillmore

          I am sorry you feel judged, but I do appreciate the irony, Judgy McJudgypants. 😉

          When I spoke of sustainable urban living models, I wasn’t referring to a specific study, sorry, but more like suggesting your fears aren’t compatible with current projections for walkable, livable neighborhoods. People don’t tend to run screaming from them, contrary to your claims. Our blog has always supported creating a vibrant, high-density community: http://www.eastfallslocal.com/move-over-manayunk-east-falls-is-ready-for-our-close-up/ (includes lots of helpful links!)

          Thank you again and I hope you learn to trust & appreciate your neighbors regardless of how much land they own here.

      • Chris McCabe

        I moved to East Falls in 1998. I was a strong supporter of a McMichael Park playground in 2006. Guess what? I’m still here 10 years later. And I know that many other playground supporters from 2006 are still living in East Falls. So much for Terry’s assumptions about leaving and staying. And Scott’s only lived here three years, so I have him beat by 15 years. Who’s to say he won’t leave in a year or two? And Terry doesn’t even tell us how long he’s lived in East Falls. Of course, it’s not really relevant to this discussion.

        And maybe those folks who left East Falls did so because they wanted a neighborhood that wasn’t so hostile to the idea of a children’s playground in a large, urban park, and because they were horrified that a few – and I mean few – individuals, in the guise of a “community” group, could dictate the range of permitted uses of a large, urban and under-utilized park.

        Sorry, but that sounds and looks like snobbishness and rank entitlement to me. And implying that a playground would actually “destroy” McMichael Park, your “back yard”. Really? You must be joking.

    • Steve Fillmore

      Terry — Thanks for chiming in to our “argument” which we think of more as a debate. A chance to talk things out. Your assumptions about “these people” may eventually be proven right. They might just take off after they’ve had their urban fling. Or they could decide to become long-term homeowners themselves, staying in part because they love the park as much as the Friends do. Working together with the Friends, they’d become part of the next generation of park stewards. That could happen too, right? Since it’s gonna be a while before we find out, it really comes down to which story you choose to believe.

  3. Kathy Kelly

    Hi Carolyn,
    Just wanted to put my 2cents somewhere and hit this page first. I attended the forum last night and came away with these feelings:

    1. The children running around having a ball at the forum did not require play equipment, just other children.

    2. The parents seemed to have more issues regarding community connectedness than play equipment. No agenda was presented regarding precise target age group or equipment desires for their children. A fantasy playground attracting lots of children and their caregivers seemed to be the answer to their needs. There is nothing wrong with this, but it will be difficult to achieve.

    3. I have no opinion about a playground in McMichael park. I would, however, be sorry to see it fenced. Even the fantasy slide in the pro FB page, while lovely, was enclosed with chain link fencing. It also does not appear to be wheelchair accessible with the requisite paved pathways to and from the slide. Food for thought.

    4. The work being done in McDevitt is wonderful and long overdue. I can understand why parents dislike the bridge entrance to the center but, let’s face it, children are fascinated by it. It’s difficult for most adults to think like children.

    5. I am disgraced by Inn Yard park. This should be the crown jewel plaza (not playground) of the EAST FALLS BUSINESS DISTRICT. Key word: business. It be should be open and cater to people of all ages in passive recreation. Views should be visible to the river. A fountain spray to cool one’s feet. Places to eat Slices and lots of trash receptacles, maybe even a seasonal ice cream vendor. Why go to Roxborough or Manayunk when one could walk here on a summer evening? Or a lunch destination for Ridge Flats or Onion Pancakes or whatever development. It should be designed in such a way to hold small events similar to the arts festival held there years ago. More food for thought.

    6. The forum was well-planned and presented. Kudos to Parks and Rec and Curtis Jones.

    • Steve Fillmore

      Hi Kathy: Thank you for your thoughtful response. The children at the meeting did indeed have a raucously good time. Kids can always find a good time, playground equipment or no. The playground just provides another option. And the kids would still have the other 98% of the park in which to play. As for the specifics of the playground, it will certainly become clearer as the process moves along. Last night was simply a chance to gauge support for it in the community. As the commissioner pointed out, there are parks being designed right now that are setting new standards. Together as a community I have no doubt we can figure out what’s best. My concern is actually getting the Friends to speak with their neighbors about the park. While the pro-playground people were open to compromise and collaboration, I heard lots of deflection from the Friends. “The park is fine as it is, ” “why don’t you go to another playground in the community,” even “we’re not entitled to a park there because poor children in other communities don’t have a playground of their own.” The park is an asset for all in the community (and public land, after all). Therefore, a vocal minority, no matter how well intentioned their efforts in maintaining the space, should not be able to veto a discussion about it. On another note, it seems to me the Friends are being short sighted in refusing to speak with the young parents who could themselves become the next generation of park stewards. All of the shortfalls in funding and volunteer assistance that Alexis Franklin spoke about could be helped greatly by an influx of hundreds of local parents and their children.

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