Support the Bird Sanctuary

The Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary has been designated a humane backyard by the Humane Society. The entrance is between the garage and 233 S. Melville.

Volunteers have cleaned up the land over the last 4 years and planted native trees, shrubs and perennials that attract birds. It is important to establish habitats like this in an urban area, where development has destroyed habitat over time.

Please help support the Bird Sanctuary with a Ben and Jerry’s “For the Birds” milkshake. At 218 S 40th from June 14th to June 28th. $1.00 from each shake sold will benefit the Bird Sanctuary! Strawberry and vanilla ice cream blended together with chocolate sprinkles, we’ll add some Oreo’s on bottom, and top it off with fresh whipped cream and peanuts. Bird Sanctuary Shake

School District Budget Crisis Letter

Letter to Governor Corbett, Mayor Nutter, Hon. Blackwell, Hon. Clarke, Senator Hughes, Senator Williams, and Representative Roebuck from Eric Santoro, SHCA Education Chair, on behalf of the SHCA Board of Directors.  Letter

Survey of Retail Preferences

In Fall 2013, the Spruce Hill Community Association Business Association Committee conducted a Survey of Retail Preferences

May Fair Overview

This year’s May Fair will feature local musical groups, food from some of the best trucks working in University City, and a raffle with terrific prizes.

There will be many local artists and crafts persons with gifts for graduations and Mother’s Day, plants on sale by the UC Garden Club, used books for $1 each, and groups and organizations offering information about their causes.

For kids there will be a big inflated obstacle course and a bounce house, along with other games for tots.

All this will be happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 10, in Clark Park, at 43rd and Chester Ave.

The top raffle prizes are once again being donated by the University Pinball Family Fun Center. The grand prize is a 60-inch Samsung plasma television, followed by two slot machines, and five family fun baskets. Homeowners may want to compete for two $100 health and safety inspections being offered by Bellweather Construction. Many more prizes are coming from local merchants.

Here’s the schedule for the music groups, organized by Liana Moskowitz and Emily Bate:

10:30 – 11:15: Julian Root. Finger-picking guitar and singing, ragtime, folk, bluegrass.

11:30 – 12:15: Plumb Pickers. Fiddle-driven old-time music with powerful harmony and bluegrass standards.

12:30 – 1:15: Upholstery. Unique blend of surrealist pop and off-kilter jazz.

1:30 – 2:15 and 2:30 to 3:15: Perseverance Jazz Band. Enthusiastic interpretations of ragtime, Dixieland and traditional jazz.

Raffle drawings will be held during breaks in the music.

The May Fair is produced annually on the Saturday before Mother’s Day by the Spruce Hill Community Association. For more information, leave a message at 215-349-7825.

Here is a list of raffle items:
Baltimore Pets: Gift Basket
Local 44 West Philly: $40 Gift Certificate
Ben & Jerry’s: Large Cake ($38.95 value)
City Food Tours: Decadent Food Tours
Goalkeeping-1-On-1: 1-Hour Field Hockey Lesson with US Olympian Steve Wagner (value $135)
Green Line Café: $20 Credit card
Honest Tom’s: $20 Gift Certificate
Homewood Suites: 1 Weekend Night
Kilamanjaro: Lunch for two
Lil’ Pop Shop: Gift Card for 10 pops ($30 value)
Manakeesh Cafe & Bakery: Gift Basket
Metropolitan Bakery: five $5 coupons
Milk and Honey (Joe Murray & Annie): $50 gift card
Monarch Hardware: $25 gift card
Renata: $35 Gift Card
Saad’s Halal: $20 Gift Card
Saturn Club: Manicure & Pedicure
Studio 34: Free Yoga Class
Sue MacQueen: 1 Hour Garden Consult, value $125
University Pinball Family Fun Center: 60″ Samsung Plasma TV
University Pinball Family Fun Center: 2 Pachislo Slot Machines
University Pinball Family Fun Center: 5 Family Fun Baskets
WHYY Dorrance Hamilton Public Media Commons: Media Production Course
Zahav: $100 certificate for food (only)
ZED’s: $20 gift certificate

May Fair 201 Saturday, May 10, 2014, 10 am to 4 pm, no rain date

Our annual community fair will again take place in Clark Park at 43rd St. and Chester Ave. There are opportunities for vendors. The fair especially welcomes artisans and crafts people from West Philadelphia, along with groups doing promotion for their causes. A vendor sign-up sheet will be mailed in late March to all vendors who took part in the last two years. To inquire about vending, e-mail Mark Wagenveld at  To request a table download the VendorForm2014

SHCA Education Committee Meeting with Philadelphia School District Representative Karyn Lynch

Dear Neighbors,

On Friday, February 7, 2014, the SHCA Education Committee met with Philadelphia School District Representative Karyn Lynch, who is a member of Superintendent Hite’s Executive Team.   The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Penn Alexander School kindergarten lottery and wait list, to encourage increased transparency about district based policies and enrollment statistics, and to encourage an overall more proactive partnership between the community and the School District with respect to both short term and long term Penn Alexander enrollment policies.   Because this is a matter of great importance and interest to our community, we wanted to share a summary of the discussion.  The topics were:

  • Wait list and current enrollment.
  • Enrollment Capacity
  • Future Collaboration with the Community

Download full report

Letter to Dr Hite, RE PAS Lottery

January 16, 2014


Via Email and US Mail Dr. William R. Hite, Jr.

The School District of Philadelphia

440 N. Broad Street Philadelphia PA 19130

Re:       Penn Alexander School Admissions Lottery

Dear Dr. Hite:

I write on behalf of the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Board of Directors regarding the School District of Philadelphia’s decision to continue to enroll kindergarten children at the Penn Alexander School (PAS) by lottery.

By way of reminder, SHCA is a volunteer organization of neighbors committed to strengthening the Spruce Hill community and enhancing the quality of neighborhood life for all residents.  Our Board and our officers are elected annually by our members, which include hundreds of neighborhood families.   PAS is the neighborhood school for the lion’s share of Spruce Hill, and indeed, SHCA was instrumental in foundation of the school, which has grown to be an important educational, cultural, and economic institution for the Spruce Hill Community.

The SHCA Board only recently became aware that the District has decided to extend last year’s “pilot” lottery to the next school year.  As an initial matter, we continue to be disappointed that decisions about PAS enrollment and policies relating to PAS admissions are routinely made behind closed doors, without input from the community or any transparency into the decision-making process.  The School District claims to “recognize[ ] the importance of a strong community through which partnerships can be created and neighborhoods can thrive” and has promised to  “be[ ] a good neighbor and communicat[e] items that may impact your neighborhood.”[1]  But these principles have been completely absent with respect to PAS enrollment.  Indeed, there are few items that have impacted our neighborhood as significantly as PAS’s shifting enrollment policies, yet the District has shown no willingness to partner with or meaningfully communicate to the community about this issue.   Rather, we seem to always learn about policy changes after they are made and are forced to have only reactive, instead of proactive, involvement.

Second, as mentioned in previous communications, it is SHCA’s expectation that every effort should be made to ensure that all eligible children living within the catchment be admitted to PAS.   We would like an opportunity to dialogue with you about how to make this happen.  We believe that, at a neighborhood school, a lottery that separates siblings and neighbors based on an arbitrary game of chance should be (at best) an absolute last resort admission tool, not a standard enrollment policy. 

We would like an opportunity to discuss these issues with you as soon as possible.  We will be contacting you by phone in the near future to set up a face-to-face meeting.


Eric Santoro

SHCA Director and Education Committee Chair

cc (all via email) The SRC Evelyn Sample-Oates, Chief of Family and Community Engagement, SDP Karyn Lynch, Chief of Student Services, SDP Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania. Jeffrey Cooper, VP Government and Community Affair, University of Pennsylvania Sheila Sydnor, Principal, Penn Alexander School Ann Kreidle, Planning Coordinator, Penn Alexander School Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell The Penn Alexander School Advisory Council The SHCA Board of Directors

[1] See

SHCA Annual Election

The membership will hold its annual meeting and election this year at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12.

It will be at a new location – in the auditorium of the recently opened University City Chinese Christian Church at 4501 Walnut St. (Come and see what a great job the church has done in rescuing this property that stood empty and unfinished for so long.)

The Nominating Committee of the SHCA Board of Directors has recommended the following slate:

  • Monica Calkins – president.
  • Andy Cole – executive vice president.
  • Mark Wagenveld – vice president (operations).
  • Marie McCullough – secretary
  • Judy Powers – treasurer.

Ten seats on the 20-member board are up this year. The Nominating Committee is recommending five newcomers and five incumbents.

The newcomers are: Sylvia Hamerman-Brown, Haven Henderson, Brennan Maier, Mary Ellen McCarty, and Andrew Richman.

The five incumbents are: Monica Ferguson, Rich Guffanti, Lee Huang, Justin McDaniel, and Pamala Williams-Diaby.

Leaving are the current president, Andy Lochrie, and board members Bob Behr, Monica Calkins (to run for president), Anne Froehling, Matt Wolfe and Mark Young. Thanks to all for their service to the community!

Under the bylaws, independent candidates may also run. They must have a petition signed by at least 10 SHCA members and present it to the Nominating Committee two weeks prior to the annual meeting. That would be Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Officers serve one-year terms and board members serve two-year terms.

– The Nominating Committee (Marie McCullough, Sue MacQueen, Cindy Roberts and Mark Wagenveld, chair).

What new retail would you most like to see in Spruce Hill?

By Lee Huang, Chair, Business Attraction Committee

Retail is an important part of a neighborhood’s sense of vitality, safety, and identity.  Where people choose to shop is, of course, a personal decision, as is where merchants choose to locate, what they choose to sell, and how they choose to keep up their storefronts.  However, we make better choices when we are better informed: about what’s out there to buy, about what people want to buy, and about how our choices have an impact on others and on the neighborhood and world in which we live.

The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Business Association Committee ( BAC ) was formed this year to do three things in support of SHCA’s efforts to improve the quality of life in our neighborhood.

  • First, we try to keep an ear to the pulse of what the neighborhood wants and doesn’t want in terms of storefronts.
  • Second, we seek to be a point of contact for developers, landlords, and businesses who want to know what the neighborhood thinks and wants.
  • Third, we actively network with other neighborhood-serving groups that are trying to do the same kinds of things.

One of our first official actions is to conduct a survey of retail preferences.  You can complete this 10-question survey online or email to request a copy.  Please participate so we can best understand your interests and opinions. And please consider joining SHCA and/or BAC if you are interested in helping out on this issue.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Halloween Tot Parade Thursday, Oct. 31

Spruce Hill’s annual Halloween costume parade for little kids will be held again this year. The date is Thursday, Oct. 31 (no rain date). As it has for the last several years, the parade will start gathering after 4 p.m. on 45th St. just north of Baltimore Ave. (next to Milk and Honey). The kick-off time is 4:30 p.m., when marchers, led by drummers from the Penn marching band, will go north on 45th to Larchwood Ave., down to 43rd St., and then on to the 4200 block of Osage. There the block residents will welcome them – as always – with cider and  goodies and some amazing Halloween decorations. The University City District will be assisting in directing traffic around the parade route.  Parents, please be alert while crossing Baltimore Ave. and other busy streets. Parking on the 4200 block of Osage will be restricted Thursday afternoon to accommodate the parade. Overnight parkers will be able to get their spots once the clean up is done and all the ghosts and goblins are safely home.