Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues (PFSNI) is an organization of Penn employees who reside in neighborhoods that border Penn's campus. It recently released the following report on priorities for action by the University regarding these neighborhoods and forwarded it to Interim President Claire Fagin, Interim Provost Marvin Lazerson, Executive Vice President Janet Hale, Dr. Ira Harkavy, Director of the Center for Community Partnerships, and Trustees Chairman Alvin Shoemaker. Comments or questions on this report may be sent to: PFSNI Steering Committee c/o Dr. Richard Shell, Legal Studies, 2112 SH/DH 6369; fax 573-2006.

Priorities for Neighborhood Revitalization: Goals for the Year 2000

A Call for Action by Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues

October 1993

(See committee members and map below)

With crime, poverty, trash, homelessness, panhandling, and decline of the built environment encroaching upon their campuses, urban universities across the United States are recognizing that they must embrace and revitalize their surrounding communities or risk failure of their educational and research missions. The various threats of urban life, real or perceived, are causing students, faculty, and staff to consider carefully their commitments to urban life in and around major urban campuses. In response, colleges and universities are implementing major neighborhood revitalization projects as a way of reassuring these constituencies of their long-term interests in these vulnerable areas.

The University of Pennsylvania is no exception to this trend. As Penn moves toward the year 2000, it is clear that without stable, viable neighborhoods in the areas immediately north and west of the University, Penn faces a cycle of decline that will be difficult to reverse. The fates of Penn and its surrounding communities are thus inextricably intertwined: it is in the University's institutional self-interest to work towards neighborhood revitalization in both University City and, by extension, West Philadelphia as a whole. Moreover, severe financial limitations placed on Philadelphia's city government make it incumbent on Penn, as the empowered player in these areas, to take a leadership role in mobilizing resources for revitalization. The University has done much in this field in the past, but it must do more, and do it with renewed energy and focus, if it is to meet the challenge of survival beyond the year 2000.

Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues (PFSNI) is an organization drawn from the over 4000 Penn people who reside in these neighborhoods. Its goal is to help the University focus and apply its considerable resources to preserve and sustain these neighborhoods for generations of Penn people to come. In April 1993, over 500 Penn faculty and staff signed a petition calling for Penn to make "the well-being of the communities surrounding the University among the highest priorities of the institution over the next ten years." This document gives that priority meaning by calling for specific action and inviting further discussion and dialogue. Most of all, it seeks a cooperative, mutually sustaining relationship between Penn and those members of the Penn "family" who live, work, and raise their families literally within the shadows of the University's core campus. If the University is to retain the confidence of this important constituency, it must act decisively to implement the action steps set forth in this Plan.


Executive Summary: Four Steps Toward Viable Penn Neighborhoods

If faculty and staff choose to live in Penn's neighborhoods, varied types of faculty/student interaction outside the classroom become possible and the psychological size of the University shrinks - thus leading to the type of Penn community everyone wants. Penn must take the following four immediate steps to maintain the confidence of faculty and staff residents.

1. Leadership in Residence

As a symbol of commitment, Penn's leaders should reside either on campus or in the local neighborhood. President Hackney started a tradition in this regard by residing at 3812 Walnut Street-a tradition that Interim President Fagin has wisely followed. The practice of community residence must be expanded to include a home for the Provost. Candidates for these offices should understand that residence is an important dimension of these leadership positions.

2. Enhanced Public Education in University City

Recognizing that the foundations of a community are its families, Penn's Center for Community Partnerships and Graduate School of Education should immediately undertake a major, comprehensive initiative to assist the Wilson School at 46th Street and Woodland Avenue to become one of Phil-adelphia's finest public elementary schools. Such a school is crucial if Penn's families are to choose its neighborhood as a place to live and raise children.

3. Increased Staffing and Coverage by Penn's Police

The issue of crime, both real and perceived, dominates many people's thinking about Penn's neighborhoods. The Penn Division of Public Safety must increase its staff so that an additional five police officers can patrol Penn's neighborhoods twenty-four hours per day. Additionally, the Penn patrol area must be expanded to include areas where faculty and staff live beyond 43rd Street.

4. Faculty and Staff Residents on Penn Committees

Too often in the past, faculty and staff who live far from the University campus have been charged with recommending how Penn's scarce resources for community enhancement should be allocated. To enhance communication and increase the likelihood of wise decision-making, Penn's central administration must appoint faculty and staff from Penn's neighborhoods to the Penn committees that deal with issues affecting the community's quality of life. Furthermore, Penn must aggressively promote these neighborhoods as places for new faculty and staff to live.

Further Goals for the Year 2000

In the pages that follow, PFSNI details its priorities and goals for neighborhood revitalization. In addition to the steps listed in the Executive Summary, PFSNI calls for:

  1. A sustained, long-term community revitalization planning process that includes initiatives in student housing, economic development, and a core commercial area for "University-type" retail establishments such as bookstores, coffee houses, newsstands, clothing, flower, and poster stores.
  2. A highly visible increase in public safety resources, including an additional 20 blue light emergency telephones at strategic locations.
  3. Cooperation in setting up and maintaining a faculty and staff recruitment information network by which new hires may be introduced to individuals and families who live in neighborhoods bordering the University and encouraged to select these neighborhoods as places to live. By the year 2000, Penn must increase by at least 15-20% the number of faculty and staff who currently live in its surrounding neighborhoods.
  4. An evaluation of the University's real estate priorities to assure that long-term investment in attractive, community-enhancing uses of its real estate holdings is weighed heavily in the decision-making balance. Specifically, Penn's real estate office should undertake a major initiative to save declining housing stock by purchasing and rehabilitating real estate in the community to meet student, faculty, and staff housing needs. The real estate division should also promote community well-being by attracting desirable commercial tenants to the area.
  5. Revitalized, streamlined programs to promote home ownership and commercial development.
  6. A major public relations campaign originating with Penn to improve the Penn community's attitude and perceptions about the areas bordering campus.

The Policy Priority:

A Coherent Planning Process and a Long-Term Visible Commitment by Penn

The PFSNI Models Committee has engaged in a year-long process of research, study and discussion to determine what Penn can learn from the experience of other urban universities struggling with problems similar to those faced by Penn and its neighboring communities. The following is a list of ideas and recommendations for further study based on our findings.

Action Steps Required to Implement the Policy Priority

1. Penn must engage in a long-term, comprehensive policy and planning process for revitalization in University City and greater West Philadelphia. This planning process must address immediate as well as long-term needs of the community. In its investigation of other universities, the PFSNI Models Group discovered a useful model of comprehensive planning involving Wayne State and the city of Detroit. This planning process involves the institutions within a specific geographic area and addresses the comprehensive needs of community revitalization. In addition, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the "Birmingham Compact" is an example of multi-institutional planning that involves private and public groups jointly identifying education, health and environmental issues of concern. Finally, The University of California, Berkeley is currently involved in a planning process to deal with many of the same issues that Penn faces in West Philadelphia. We recommend that these models of comprehensive planning be used at Penn in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia. Furthermore, we believe that the cross-fertilization of ideas between our institution and other universities involved in comprehensive planning would enhance the process for all. A conference hosted by Penn and attended by representatives from these and other universities would be a useful way to initiate this process.

2. Penn should launch a comprehensive initiative in the area of housing development. The Models Committee identified and reviewed various examples of university-initiated development that can serve as guides. Fordham University in the Bronx and Marquette University in Milwaukee have both embarked on aggressive campaigns which include the targeted purchase and development of properties to insure the stability of neighborhoods. One of the best ways to insure neighborhood stability is through home ownership. Therefore, properties owned and purchased by the University should be renovated in such a way as to make them attractive options for purchase by members of the Penn community. Zoning changes would allow larger homes to be divided in such a way as to create an owner occupied unit with a single-tenant unit to provide income. Income generated by this tenant unit would provide an added incentive for Penn personnel to move into the neighborhood. Another option is to promote investment in the community through development of condominium or cooperative apartment complexes.

3. Penn also needs to maintain, upgrade and promote existing mortgage programs to encourage members of the Penn community to live in University City. In addition to mortgage programs, other incentives may be necessary to generate interest, including lease-purchase arrangements and a revolving loan fund for housing purchases and local commercial development. A model of a revolving loan fund has been developed by Fordham University where all residents within the community can obtain low interest loans for the purchase of homes.

The development of off-campus student living arrangements through the use of the existing housing stock in University City should also be considered as a possible step in revitalizing the community. The University of Maryland at Baltimore provides a model for this type of development, where a row of deteriorated buildings was converted into a graduate housing complex.

4. Penn also needs to reevaluate its role with regard to economic development within the West Philadelphia region. No community can thrive if jobs are not provided and its consumer and social needs are not met. With the closing of Marty's, Penn lacks a general merchandise store which is a necessity in any community. Light industry and commercial development would provide jobs and services needed in this area. Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute provides an excellent model of university-initiated economic development. Working in partnership with major corporations, Brooklyn Polytechnic stimulated the development of a major urban financial center within its campus.

The Committee applauds the Penn Purchasing Department in its efforts to promote economic development in West Philadelphia through the use of Penn's institutional purchasing power. Using this concept and building on models provided by the Greater Boston and Washington D.C. areas, Penn should evaluate cooperative procurement arrangements with the other local institutions as a way of expanding this process. Boston area institutions also supply a positive model of the joint development of athletic/recreational facilities. PFSNI recommends that Penn evaluate this concept in cooperation with its neighboring institutions.

5. Retail and entrepreneurial enterprises must be developed in such a way as to create "a heart" for the neighborhoods where students and residents meet while shopping. For example, Baltimore Avenue, from 45th to 50th Street, could be returned to its original role as a "Main Street" to meet the retail needs of the community. Recent development along Lancaster Avenue in Powelton Village provides an excellent example of the type of development desired. The area around 40th and Locust could also be developed in such a way as to promote a "University atmosphere" providing for the casual interaction of faculty, students and staff. The types of establishments envisioned in this setting include: a cafe/coffee house, restaurants, pubs, bookstores, newsstands and a poster shop. Night spots, sporting goods and flower stores and movie theaters that run international and classic films would also be positive additions to the area. The 3400 block of Sansom provides an excellent model of the type of development that would enhance this area just west of campus.

Retail studies done for Penn by Professor Alan Levy in the early 1980's provide the groundwork for the type of development sought by PFSNI. The establishment of a revolving loan fund would assist in the development of an entrepreneurial business climate necessary to meet consumer needs of the student population and the broader Penn community.

Other types of retail and commercial development in areas further from campus must also be addressed. Evaluation of the retail needs of the permanent members of the West Philadelphia community is imperative as the University seeks to establish new retail centers and community gathering places.

6. The existence of open/green space enhances the quality of life for those who live and work in West Philadelphia. Therefore, Penn, in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia and its neighboring communities, should work to develop new, and preserve existing, green spaces. Both the University of Alabama and Columbia University provide strong models of university intervention in the creation and preservation of green spaces and city parks for community use.

7. The adaptive reuse of existing structures that are historically, architecturally or culturally significant should be pursued by Penn in conjunction with its neighbors. The model of SUNY-Buffalo providing assistance to develop a community center and school in an abandoned church should be considered by Penn as an example.

In closing, we believe that the establishment of a cosmopolitan atmosphere within and bordering the campus would substantially upgrade Penn's local and international appeal as its students and faculty continue to diversify.

The Education Priority:

A Viable Public School Alternative within the Local Neighborhood

The PFSNI Schools Committee sees as its ultimate charge the creation of desirable local public schools for Penn faculty and staff who reside in University City and neighboring areas. Without this, the stability of our neighborhood is jeopardized as families flee the area in pursuit of better schools located in the suburbs. The focus of the Committee has been on primary education and on University City because Powelton Village already has a viable public elementary school, the Powel School.

The Committee developed a short questionnaire that was published in both the Compass and the Almanac, as well as circulated at a PFSNI meeting on March 26, 1993. Of the forty-seven responses received, thirty-one indicated that yes, they are interested in good public schools in the University City area and no one answered "no" to the question "Would you send your children to a local school if it were satisfactory?"

Our questionnaire revealed other interesting points. One question asked if parents had applied to transfer their children to the Powel School, the one public school in this area that faculty and staff consider to be satisfactory. Twenty people answered "yes," and of those 20, five had been denied permission to transfer. This information reinforces our belief that parents are interested in local public education and that Powel is perceived as a desirable option. However, it is increasingly difficult to have children accepted for transfer to this particular school, as well as to the Greenfield School, a good public school located at 24th and Chestnut Streets (three parents mentioned applying to the Greenfield School). The question the Committee has asked itself is whether we can extrapolate from the 45% of respondents who applied for transfers to out-of-boundary schools that Penn faculty and staff want quality public schools in University City. Our answer is an unqualified "YES!" The survey and the tenor of the PFSNI group have convinced us that there is a demand for viable public schools in University City.

Action Steps Required for Viable Public Schools

A. Immediate Steps

The Committee has targeted the Wilson School at 46th Street and Woodland Ave. to be the first school that Penn, PFSNI, and neighborhood organizations will work together to improve. After a survey of existing schools, the Committee determined that the Wilson School represented the most exciting, proactive program on which to build an innovative model of public education. To do so, we will need to get as much help as possible from Penn. In particular, we will:

  1. explore resources available through Penn's School of Education, the Office of Community Partnerships, and the Office of Community Relations;
  2. pursue a commitment already made between one committee member and the school for Lauder/Southeast Asia Resources Center to work with the Wilson faculty;
  3. pursue an arrangement involving practice teachers at Wilson.

The Committee is focusing both on helping the school to make education at Wilson as exciting as possible, as well as on encouraging parents concerned about quality education to send their children there. We will consult with the principal at Wilson, the Home and School Association, and the Governance Council as we work out a public relations program for this. It is essential to the perception of Wilson as a viable and desirable option that we encourage a core group of parents to be pioneers in this neighborhood public school.

B. Long-Term Steps: Toward the Year 2000

The Committee believes that the Middle Years Alternative School (MYA) at 47th and Chestnut offers the same exciting education possibilities, for grades five through eight, as the Wilson School offers for K through fourth grades. At this time, no principal has been appointed for MYA. As soon as this appointment is made, the Committee will approach the appointee and seek to work with leaders of that school just as we are doing with the Wilson School. We will again focus our efforts in two areas: we will try to involve as many Penn resources as possible, and we will develop a public relations strategy to try to attract more families concerned about quality education to the school.

In general, the Committee feels that both PFSNI and Penn will have to be ever-vigilant for ways to keep both the University and the residents of University City involved in public education in our community. We have seen how various local public schools have slowly changed from schools that reflected the community to schools where faculty and staff choose not to send their children. This is the trend that must be reversed and constitutes the challenge to all organizations interested in our neighborhood.

The Public Safety Priority:

More Penn Police and Blue Light Telephones in the Community

The University of Pennsylvania has an obvious, long-term interest in public safety issues affecting its surrounding neighborhoods. With the decline of the City's ability to deliver public safety resources and the recent increase in crimes against both people and property, Penn has a special role to play in deterring and containing criminal behavior. However, Penn must also take care to deliver security services in a way that encourages neighborhood vitality, respects individual rights and self-reliance, and contributes to a positive neighborhood image. PFSNI's Public Safety Committee is ready to assist in these efforts.

Penn depends on its surrounding neighborhoods to house the people upon whom its existence depends. Without a meaningful level of comfort regarding personal safety and security, students, faculty, and staff will flee these areas, leaving Penn as an island surrounded by urban blight and decay. This situation will, in turn, discourage faculty from locating at Penn, discourage the best students from choosing it, and require massive outlays for on-campus housing and security.

Second, Penn's very presence attracts crime to its neighborhoods. Criminals see young college students, especially those from outside the U.S., as easy marks because students often take less care about their personal safety and possessions than do others. Students also graduate or leave - making prosecutions difficult. Penn has an obvious responsibility to educate its students to make them more aware of their role in the crime picture. Just as important, Penn has a duty, as a matter of civic responsibility, to balance its attractiveness to criminals with steps to deter them.

Because the long-term success of Penn as an educational institution depends on its ability to project its neighborhoods as reasonably safe places to work and live, it must have a sustained, highly visible commitment to the safety of these neighborhoods.

Action Steps Required on Public Safety

A. Immediate Steps

  1. Expand the informal, Penn-patrolled security zone, which now reaches to 43rd Street between Baltimore and Walnut, to include a broader area that reflects where faculty and staff actually live. PFSNI has developed a map of this area to pinpoint residential living patterns of faculty and staff (See Addendum to this Plan). The area of public safety coverage should be expanded to reflect these patterns after discussions between PFSNI and the appropriate Penn officials.
  2. To service this larger Penn community area, commence a hiring program designed to put five more Penn police officers on duty, 24 hours a day in the residential areas surrounding the Penn campus by 1996. There is no better deterrent to crime than police presence. Such a presence also reassures residents.
  3. Install, at locations to be designated by the Penn police in cooperation with PFSNI, an additional 20 blue light emergency telephones in the re-designated security area.
  4. Develop, publicize, and offer a "neighborhood security audit" program to advise Penn faculty, staff, and students living off-campus about cost-effective means for enhancing home and street security. This program would be offered by Penn police security officers who could, on request, visit homes and streets in the area, analyze the security situation, and give pointers on how security could be enhanced. This program should be accompanied by cooperative efforts between PFSNI and Penn to see if price discounts may be negotiated with local vendors of security equipment, including iron fences and gates for alleys and windows, street lighting, home security systems, etc., to assist Penn faculty and staff in securing their homes and streets.
  5. Undertake a comprehensive lighting survey to identify areas, alleys, and streets in need of enhanced lighting for public safety purposes. The Penn police should be requested to assist in this task with ultimate responsibility residing in Facilities Planning. Once darkened areas are identified, Penn should contact homeowners and landlords and let it be known that Penn will provide "at cost" assistance to install the needed lighting. Close coordination with the City of Philadelphia will be required for this effort.
  6. Review Escort Service policies and procedures with an eye to maximizing the public safety impact of this important service. For example, are these services needlessly reducing foot traffic in the community during hours when there is only a relatively slight public safety risk to pedestrians? Members of PFSNI have observed student-athletes occupying most of an Escort van by boarding at 33rd and Walnut Streets in broad daylight only to exit at 38th and Locust. Surely Penn's limited resources for public safety can be put to better use. On the other hand, is there sufficient service available to minimize waiting times when the public safety risk to foot traffic in the community is especially high? Long waits at late hours of the evening discourage service use and expose Penn people to needless safety risks. Finally, the University's scarce escort resources should not be used to encourage students, faculty and staff to live in Center City. There are inducements enough to chose Center City as a place to live without implicit subsidies from Penn. Penn's future security depends on the viability of the neighborhoods immediately west of campus.
  7. Review the safety for foot and bicycle traffic of all major traffic intersections bordering campus. Several such intersections may be a hazard to faculty, staff, and students as now constituted. Particular attention should be paid to the area where Hamilton Walk meets 38th Street. The solutions devised should make it possible for both bicycles and foot traffic to move safely through intersections.

B. Long-Term Steps

  1. Set up formal collaboration with other major institutions in the area, including the College of Pharmacy, Drexel, and the major hospitals, to officially designate the communities west of campus as being of "special interest" to these local institutions for security purposes. This area need not have precise boundaries, but it would help everyone concerned if it had a name. Revitalizing the idea of "University City" is an obvious choice. Publicize this broad institutional interest to indicate that special risks attend choosing these areas to commit crimes. As part of this effort, the collaborating institutions should provide maps locating residences of their respective faculty, staff, and student constituencies, and should work to integrate and economize their security efforts.
  2. Institute a public planning and review process, called a "Penn Community Security Audit," by which Penn can formally assess the public safety situation in the areas west of campus every two years. Penn must have a regular review process to develop action plans that address community security needs. This audit program will enable policy makers to determine whether the security situation is stabilizing, getting better, or getting worse, and take appropriate action in response.
  3. Establish "combined police mini-stations" staffed by security officers from all major neighborhood institutions at critical locations in the neighborhoods. These mini-stations would serve as the anchors for a highly visible, quick response security force in the institutional "special interest" area. Officers from the mini-stations could patrol on foot and/or bicycle within a given radius of the mini-station.

The Real Estate Priority:

Home Ownership and a Vital, Attractive Commercial Sector

The PFSNI Real Estate Committee feels that increased home ownership is a key to revitalization of the communities neighboring Penn. The only way to attract homeowners to the community is by providing basic needs and services and restoring blighted streets to show that they have a chance of returning to their former stability. A revitalized, attractive commercial retail community will encourage both homeowners and students to locate near Penn. The University and other major institutions in West Philadelphia have a stake in this community. They should unite to pressure city, state and federal governments to make major efforts to revitalize University City and West Philadelphia. Through home ownership, University City and West Philadelphia will become safer, cleaner, and have a more "cared-for" appearance.

The Real Estate Committee identified the following problems as obstacles to meeting its goals:

  • absentee landlords and the resulting neglect of their property contribute to the general "run down" appearance of the neighborhoods-deterring potential homeowners;
  • student tenants who lack an understanding of how to be responsible community members-contributing to trash and noise problems;
  • the decreasing number of students renting and University related personnel looking to purchase homes in University City and what will become of these properties-due to the real and/or perceived increase in crime;
  • the decline of retail and commercial services in the community- increasing inconvenience of living in an area;
  • the presence of abandoned buildings;
  • the need for more community involvement in the decision-making process at the University that affects the community;
  • Penn's Real Estate Department, which makes decisions on the uses of University-owned and controlled property that have an important effect on the neighborhood, must give significant weight to the value of community revitalization;

The Committee has concluded that, unless steps are taken to increase the levels of homeownership in University City and West Philadelphia, the community will continue to decline, forcing current homeowners to leave, and creating serious if not disastrous consequences on the University. Although incentive programs, such as the mortgage program (which needs to be better publicized), are positive and should continue, they have not been enough to combat the flight of the homeowner. The only way to reverse this trend is to induce at least an additional 15-20% of community members to become homeowners. (Presently there is only 15% homeownership in the Spruce Hill area just west of campus -down from about 19% a decade ago and the lowest of any neighborhood in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Planning Commission.) Major institutions in the area, local, state and federal governments must invest major efforts to provide basic services, jobs and improve the overall appearance of the neighborhoods. Furthermore, the Committee feels the University should take the leadership role in coordinating this endeavor.

The Committee has discussed its vision of community revitalization with Dr. Ira Harkavy and the University's Center for Community Partnership. The Committee is convinced that the Center shares its vision for University City and West Philadelphia. With the full support of the University administration and community, this vision can be realized and serve as a model for the rest of the country.

Action Steps Required for a Vital Neighborhood

  1. The University must realize that it is a member of the University City and West Philadelphia community and should act in concert with other appropriate parts of the community on an issue-by-issue basis.
  2. Penn must assist in creating a lively, attractive community surrounding the University by developing appropriate retail commercial and entertainment activities to attract permanent community members and serve the international University community.
  3. Penn must involve University members, who live in the adjacent neighborhoods and are intimately aware of the problems, in the University decision making process on all issues affecting their community. Faculty and staff who live outside the neighborhoods simply do not have the sense of urgency and priority as people who live in the communities directly affected by the University's actions (or lack thereof). Moreover, suburban dwellers would not appreciate those of us living in University City dictating what kind of lights, etc. they should install in their neighborhoods. The reverse is also true.
  4. Penn must aggressively promote homeownership in the area. It should start by advising University personnel that it is in the University's best interest that this community thrive, and therefore encourage Penn personnel at all levels to participate in "building our community." Penn's mortgage program is an important incentive for faculty and staff to buy homes in the area, but it is currently being implemented by Mellon Bank in a disorganized and frustrating way. PFSNI has information that homeowners have waited many weeks for loan approvals because of unnecessarily strict appraisal reports and other arbitrary administrative delays.
  5. Penn must purchase strategic residential properties (such as the three for sale on the 200 block of South 42nd Street), in University City to prevent the selling of more property to "slum lords." Penn can convert some of these properties to condominiums or renovate and sell them to homeowners. Innovative programs for undergraduate and graduate living could also be explored. Programs such as these can go a long way toward promoting interaction between faculty and students outside the classroom and reducing the "psychological size" of the University.
  6. Penn should create a plan for commercial and residential development. The University, in conjunction with PFSNI, community groups and the City should produce a long range plan to serve the commercial needs of University City and West Philadelphia. These needs, as identified by a survey taken by the PFSNI Real Estate Group, include: grocery stores, garden centers, home repair centers, etc. The University should work to develop its own commercial property to serve the needs of the University international community including: bookstores, clothing shops, international film theaters, cafes, bistros, and restaurants.
  7. Penn should review the goals of the University Real Estate Department to assure that it makes long term investments in the community. With the recent departures of several attractive commercial tenants from the area and the apparent failure of negotiations with the Othmer Library of the Chemistry Heritage Foundation, PFSNI fears that the University is not being aggressive enough in seeking community enhancement. For example, after at least one questionable tenant in the chapel at the Divinity School, a responsible, desirable tenant was finally found - one that was willing to make a substantial investment in renovating the property. However, the deal fell through for reasons that are, at the very least, subject to some dispute. PFSNI feels that it is crucial to have this property occupied by a responsible tenant which will benefit the community, contributing to its revitalization and ultimately to the benefit the University. A better model is the admirable way in which Penn and the University City New School have been able to work together to devise an extended lease that enabled UCNS to remain at its location in the Divinity School complex-and remain as a valuable private elementary school asset to the neighborhood.
  8. Penn should create a Real Estate advisory board comprised of members of PFSNI and the community to work with the Real Estate Department on a monthly or quarterly basis to determine appropriate uses and tenants for University owned property which will serve the overall community needs.
  9. Penn should renovate, upgrade and in some cases tear down existing unattractive and poorly planned shopping strips and buildings which are a plague on the community. Several of the vacant homes in relatively good condition could be renovated through Penn's Christmas in April or the Wharton/Dynamics of Organization Rehab Courses. Some buildings, beyond hope, could be torn down to make room for community gardens, taking care that such demolition does not leave nearby properties scarred. Walnut Mall should undergo major renovation or be torn down and rebuilt to create inviting spaces for tenants and shoppers. Penn can begin the revitalization process immediately with University-owned property on Walnut St. and 40th Street.
  10. Instead of building new student housing on campus, Penn should purchase and renovate existing housing in University city for married and graduate student housing and for "college house" type arrangements.
  11. Penn should provide incentives and/or subsidies for small business entrepreneurs in the short term, in order to jump-start the revitalization process which will lead to long term profits.
  12. Penn should take a leadership role by coordinating community groups, institutions and government agencies in seeking funding for large scale renovation.
  13. Penn can and should capitalize on the unique architecture of the community, promoting it as a Victorian Village. It should promote the designation of this area as an historic district, which would help control the defacing and ill-considered alterations of homes and buildings. In order to attract homeowners this community must offer something unique, something not available elsewhere.

The Aesthetic Priority:

Clean Streets and Sidewalks

The PFSNI Streets Committee deals with the problems of trash and litter on the streets, curbs and yards of our community. In addition, this Committee concerns itself with the physical disrepair of many buildings, streets and sidewalks.

The Committee feels strongly that Penn must take an active role in encouraging landlords, students, businesses and residents to be more responsible for the appearance of the neighborhoods bordering the Penn campus.

Among the problems that the Committee has identified as standing in the way of clean streets and sidewalks are the following:

  • The City of Philadelphia trash pick-up is often not on time and is not set up to take trash from apartments and residences (largely occupied by Penn students) unless special appointments are made. This leads to trash left on the sidewalks, sometimes for days.
  • Large dumpsters located around Penn-particularly those at the west end of campus-are unsecured and open. As a result, trash blows out of them and into the community. In addition, the homeless routinely access these dumpsters and leave loose trash to blow wherever the wind takes it.
  • Rental properties and businesses are generally the worst violators of proper trash disposal.
  • Many of the streets and sidewalks in the area are in disrepair.
  • There is a sad lack of maintenance of street trees and plantings.
  • Abandoned buildings and/or vacant businesses provide a strong negative message about the neighborhoods and lead to further neglect.

Action Steps Required for Clean Streets

  1. Penn must pressure the City to pick up trash promptly on the assigned days and remind the City of "move in" and "move out" days on the academic calendar.
  2. Penn must apply equal pressure to local landlords to see that their properties are maintained.
  3. Penn must secure its own, on-campus dumpsters to assure that trash from these receptacles does not continue to be a nuisance to the neighborhood and the campus.
  4. Penn must aggressively educate students about the vital importance of keeping the neighborhood clean. Programs can be established on campus, through orientation programs, and through the office of Off-Campus Living, Real Estate, and independent student groups.
  5. Penn must encourage home and business owners to keep trees trimmed, sidewalks repaired, and areas appropriately illuminated to improve their property's appearance.
  6. Penn should work in concert with City agencies such as the Fairmount Park Commission and community groups such as the Spruce Hill Association to promote street planting and maintenance throughout the bordering neighborhoods. A start in this direction was made when Penn, in the Spring 1993 semester, trimmed trees on Spruce Street between 38th and 42nd Streets. Such efforts should be continued and expanded.
  7. The Penn Real Estate Department should see that vacant commercial space under its control is promptly rented to attractive tenants so that commercial space does not remain vacant for months or even years. Such vacancies give the neighborhood a poor appearance and discourage efforts to maintain and improve the overall "look and feel" of the community.
  8. All possible efforts should be made to save the "Special Services District" that, for a period in 1993, put private sanitation personnel on the streets of University City to maintain their appearance.

The Recruitment Priority:

More Faculty and Staff in University City and Other Neighboring Communities

PFSNI's New Faculty and Staff Orientation and Welcoming Committee stands ready to assist Penn in its efforts to encourage faculty and staff to buy or rent houses, apartments, or cooperative units in the neighborhoods bordering the University. Its premise is simple: people considering living in these areas would benefit from visits to the homes of Penn-affiliated people who already live there. The Committee is identifying faculty and staff in every unit of the University who live in the neighborhood and who are ready to assist recruitment coordinators, search committees, and others who are involved in the relocation process.

Incoming faculty and staff are frequently discouraged from living in nearby areas by subtle and not-so-subtle messages sent by Penn personnel who live outside the city indicating that residential living within walking distance of the University is so dangerous that it is unthinkable. The Committee seeks to present recruits with a more balanced picture that emphasizes the benefits as well as the risks of city life. There can be no doubt that the University itself would benefit from the increased interaction between faculty, staff, and students that would naturally result from more faculty and staff choosing to live within walking distance of Penn.

Action Steps Required on Faculty/Staff Recruitment

  1. The Office of Community Relations and the Director of Community Relations must become the internal "champions" of a coordinated program to encourage new faculty and staff to locate in the area. There is no one within the University who has the responsibility for effectively disseminating information about University City and other local communities to prospective residents. Because recruitment is de-centralized, someone in the central administration must be designated as responsible for this effort. The Committee stands ready to assist, but it cannot coordinate this wide-ranging effort from outside the University.
  2. Penn must seek to increase by at least 15-20% the number of faculty and staff now living in University City and other border communities by the year 2000. A variety of incentive programs ranging from mortgage assistance to subsidizing closing costs must be developed and publicized to make these goals a reality.
  3. Penn must work to develop housing alternatives for faculty and staff. Acquiring short-term housing stock, acquiring and converting buildings, converting local apartment buildings into condominiums are all steps that would attract and serve more people. Many houses in the area are too big for today's smaller families and single individuals.

The Community-Building Priority:

Regular Social Events Involving Penn Faculty, Staff and Administrators

PFSNI has an active Social Activities Committee that sponsors events in the neighborhood to help create and maintain the strong sense of community that makes living in the areas bordering Penn such an attractive alternative to the suburbs. Through monthly potluck dinners in homes of faculty and staff and other periodic events, we reach out and get to know many of the Penn people who live in the neighborhoods to the west of the University.

The Social Activities Committee recommends that all who are asked be encouraged to support this effort to build and maintain our social ties through active participation and interaction with one another.


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PENN Faculty and Staff Living in University City

Numbers indicate Penn personnel per block.

Includes A-1s, A-2s & A-3s;

does not include A-4s (part-time) or HUP personnel.

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To the University Community: PFSNI encourages faculty and staff who live in its surrounding neighborhoods to become involved in helping direct Penn's attention to neighborhood priorities. One way to do this is by joining a PFSNI committee or by suggesting a new idea around which a committee may form. If you wish to become involved, contact any Steering Committee member listed below

--Richard Shell, for the Steering Committee.

Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues: Committees

 Steering Committee

  • Carolyn Burdon, Executive Assistant to Chair, Faculty Senate
  • Vincent Curren, Assistant Director, WXPN
  • Peter Dodson, Professor, Animal Biology, Vet
  • Anne Froehling, Landscape Architect, Facilities Planning
  • Sally Johnson, Assistant Director, Alumni Relations (Ret.)
  • Kathryn Kester, Landscape Architecture, Staff Spouse
  • Lynn Lees, Professor, History, SAS
  • Walter Licht, Professor, History, SAS
  • Robert Lundgren, Landscape Architect, Facilities Planning
  • Yvonne Paterson, Professor, Microbiology, Med
  • Richard Shell, Associate Professor, Legal Studies, Wharton School


University Models Committee

  • Glenn Bryan, Director, Community Relations, CCP
  • *Anne Froehling (see under Steering)
  • Ira Harkavy, Director, Center for Community Partnerships
  • Bah-Bai Makenta, Project Planner, Facilities Pl.
  • John McCoubrey, Professor, History of Art, SAS
  • Eric Orts, Assistant Professor, Legal Studies, Wharton
  • John Puckett, Associate Professor, Education
  • Steve Wiesenthal, Associate V.P. Master Programs, Facilities Planning, Med


 Education and Schools Committee

  • Daniel Bivona, Assistant Professor, English, SAS
  • Eugene Dickson, Administrator, HUP
  • Sheila Dickson, Admin. Ass't, Urban Studies
  • Lori Ginzberg, Research Fellow, HUP
  • Kathleen Hall-Graves, AA to Vice Dean, Med
  • Sharon Heskett, Interior Designer, Facilities Planning
  • Amy Johnson, Project Manager, Planning Analysis
  • *Sally Johnson (see under Steering)
  • Mary Martin, Assistant Director, Middle East Center
  • Susan Parrott, Research Analyst, HUP
  • John Puckett (see under University Models)
  • Susan Weiss, Associate Professor, Microbiology, Med.


Public Safety Committee

  • Dorothy Berlind, Assistant Director, Student Financial Services
  • Francha Dade, Administrative Assistant, Football
  • Kathleen Hall-Graves (see under Steering)
  • Douglas Haller, Archivist, University Museum
  • Rose Hooks, Victim Support, Public Safety
  • Ellen Kennedy, Associate Professor, Science, SAS
  • Ann Mayer, Associate Professor, Legal Studies, Wharton
  • Philip Nichols, Assistant Professor, Legal Studies, Wharton
  • Frances Opher, Administrative Assistant, V.P.U.L.
  • Paul Reynolds, Assistant Director, Student Life
  • Mary Richardson, Staff, Biomedical Library
  • *Richard Shell (see under Steering)
  • Phebe Shin, Administrative Assistant, Annenberg School
  • M. L. Wernecke, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Greater Philadelphia


Real Estate Committee

  • Carolyn Burdon (see under Steering)
  • *Vincent Curren (see under Steering)
  • Thomas Ewing, Project Planner, Facilities Planning
  • Mihaela Farcas, Ass't Director, Off-Campus Living
  • Dean Foster, Associate Professor, Statistics, Wharton
  • Anne Froehling (see under Steering)
  • Ann Mayer (see under Public Safety)
  • Marja Hoek-Smit, Lecturer, Fels Center of Gov't
  • Maria Smolka-Day, Foreign & International Law Librarian, Law School
  • Darien Yamin, Manager, PENNTREX

 New Faculty and Staff Orientation and Welcome Committee

  • Hermann Behrens, Research Specialist, Museum
  • David Brownlee, Professor, History of Art, SAS
  • Carolyn Burdon (see under Steering)
  • Deborah Burnham, Assistant Dean, SAS
  • Denis Cochran-Fikes, Associate Director, Athletics
  • Doris Cochran-Fikes, Director, Alumni Relations
  • Vincent Curren (see under Steering)
  • Peter Dodson (see under Steeting)
  • Anne Froehling (see under Steering)
  • Karen Hamilton, Exec. Ass't to Dean,Education
  • Mary Heiberger, Associate Director, CP&P
  • Marja Hoek-Smit (see under Real Estate)
  • Edda Katz, Editor, Penn Printout
  • Michael Katz, Professor and Chair, History, SAS
  • *Kathryn Kester (see under Steering)
  • Robert Lundgren (see under Steering)
  • Ruth Mellman, Coordinator, Membership Programs, Annenberg Center
  • Yvonne Paterson, Professor, Microbiology, Med
  • Lee Pugh, Interlibrary Loan Librarian, Van Pelt
  • Marianne Roncoli, Associate Professor, Nursing
  • Milton Rossman, Associate Professor, Pulmonary- Critical Care, Med
  • Brian Salzberg, Professor, Neuroscience & Physiology/Med
  • Lyle Ungar, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
  • Gay Washburn, Associate Director, English Language Programs
  • Arjun Yodh, Assistant Professor, Physics


Streets Committee

  • Lynn Lees (see under Steering)
  • Mitchell Litt, Professor, Bioengineering, SEAS
  • *Robert Lundgren (see under Steering)
  • Yvonne Paterson (see under Steering)
  • Milton Rossman (see under New Faculty & ...)
  • Maria Smolka-Day (see under Real Estate)
  • Bradford Wayland, Professor, Chemistry, SAS


Social Activities Committee

  • *Carolyn Burdon (see under Steering)
  • Anne Froehling (see under Steering)
  • Yvonne Paterson (see under Steering)
  • Antoneta Radu, Research Specialist, Human Gene Therapy, Wistar
  • Milton Rossman (see under New Faculty & ...)
  • Lyle Ungar (see under New Faculty & ....)


Public Relations Committee

  • Hermann Behrens (see under New Faculty & ...)
  • Carolyn Burdon (see under Steering)
  • Jon Caroulis, News Officer, Public Affairs
  • Doris Cochran-Fikes (see under New Faculty & ...)
  • Vincent Curren (see under Steering)
  • Mihaela Farcas (see under Real Estate)
  • Karen Gaines, Editor, Almanac
  • Jean Gallier, Professor, CIS, SAS
  • Edda Katz (see under New Faculty & ...)
  • John Manotti, Assistant Director, The Penn Fund
  • *Yvonne Paterson (see under Steering)
  • *Milton Rossman (see under New Faculty & ...)
  • Frank Trommler, Professor, German, SAS

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Back to Almanac Archives

The source of this document is Almanac. October 26, 1993.