April 05, 2019
Temple University and a group of community leaders in North Philadelphia have joined forces to launch a special services District that will pool local resources to address neighborhood issues, officials announced Friday.
The formation of the North Central Special Special Services District comes after three years of mounting tensions over Temple's now-dormant plan to build a football stadium on North Broad Street.
A nine-member district board will be comprised of five community representatives and four university representatives, with $500,000 in funding from Temple in the first year of operation. The territory will cover Broad Street to 18th Street between Dauphin Street to Oxford Street.
“I am really excited about this district because we’re going to be working together with Temple to keep the neighborhood clean and safe for both the neighbors and students,” said district Board President Joan Briley, a lifelong resident of the 1500 block of Norris Street.
Other board members from the community include block captains and a ward committee member.
“We’re very excited to formally launch the North Central Special Services District with our neighbors,” said Bill Bergman, vice president of public affairs at Temple University. “This is an idea that’s been percolating for years, and we’ve drawn inspiration from similar districts in the region, including the University City District.”
The mission of the new district is to mitigate student impact, maintain and beautify the neighborhood, promote workforce development and education opportunities, and improve public safety.
Similar special services districts have existed for years in Philly neighborhoods including University City, Germantown, Old City, the stadium complex and a stretch along City Avenue.
As community resistance to Temple's stadium proposal boiled over last winter and spring, the university began to shift its attention to forming a special services sistrict, possibly to lay the groundwork for revisiting the stadium.
Officials told The Temple News the North Central Special Services District has nothing to do with the stadium, though even members of the board seemed to acknowledge it remains an elephant in the room — and the neighborhood at large.
At a minimum, Temple's defeat on the stadium issue last year simply underscored the need to be a better neighbor regardless of what the future holds. The terms of the university's next contract at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Owls once had a 15-year lease, could offer a better indication of Temple's short- and mid-term intentions.
In and of itself, there's no reason to think a special services district in North Central Philadelphia wouldn't bolster Temple's accountability and make life better for the residents who live there.