Upper Darby is a township at a crossroads. For residents who have lived in Upper Darby for over 30 years they have seen a downward turn with regard to quality of life issues. In the 1970’s the township was considered one of the best places to live in not only the state of Pennsylvania but in the country. Our schools were consistently listed as some of the best in the state, our township had a summer recreation programs that involved thousands of the township’s youth with activities at their local playgrounds, and home owners actually lived in their homes, they didn’t just rent them out to go into disrepair and neglected.
Today, our youth is hard pressed to find free activities to keep them off the streets, the housing crisis turned our once blue collar working class neighborhood into zombie homes waiting on foreclosures and residents see less being done while taxes are still some of the highest in Pennsylvania. There is a policy police departments and counties, across the country have used called the “Broken Windows” policy.
This is a description of what the broken windows policy means: “Broken windows is based on the notion that signs of incivility, like broken windows, signify that nobody cares, which leads to greater fear of crime and a reduction of community efficacy, which in turn can lead to more serious crimes and greater signs of incivility, repeating the cycle into a potential spiral of decay.” So what does that have to do with Upper Darby elected officials, police officers and residents? Everything!
Wednesday, Superintendent Police, Michael Chitwood, asked for residents help in deterring crime by speaking out and reporting illegal activity. Residents can blame elected officials all they want but they have to do their share by reporting what they see in the neighborhood. How many times have you seen on the news, witnesses to neighborhood problems saying “I knew there was something wrong there,” yet it took months of anyone to pick up the phone to report what was going on. As Chitwood stated, “We can’t solve crime alone. We need YOU! Continuing that sentiment, residents need to speak up, make phone calls, and VOTE.
Does this mean we let our elected officials off the hook when we see parks with overgrown grass, houses that have garages falling apart, or lack of programs for our youth? Absolutely Not! Here are a few ways to contact the Mayor’s office to register complaints or even compliments on the township’s website go to http://www.upperdarby.org, click on The Mayor’s tab, and fill out the online form to help you get the results you want, or you can call the Mayor’s office at 610-352-4103. You can also look up your council representative and call them. Attend council meetings to voice your concerns but most of all get involved.
There is a lot of work to do in Upper Darby. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. It also can be repaired so don’t think it’s impossible. Take a look around Upper Darby. Look at the area known as Drexel Park. They don’t tolerate illegal vehicles parked on their streets, why should neighborhoods such as Highland Park have to? We need to ask why laws regarding illegal parking aren’t enforced. Why should Lennox Road, from Carol Blvd, to State Rd, look like a used truck lot on every given weekend? Why are tractor trailers being parked on West Chester Pike overnight? Tractor Trailers have also parked overnight at the parking lot that was made out of children’s playground, at the Observatory, why is it tolerated? It is the broken windows principle in plain sight. There is plenty of signs indicating it is illegal for commercial vehicles to park on the narrow streets in the Highland Park section yet nothing is done to stop it. When you get away from breaking one rule or law it doesn’t take much to look the other
The township has allowed for too long the purchase of single homes that are then converted into duplexes or even triplexes when the neighborhoods are already struggling with overcrowding. Why is it so inexpensive to apply for a permit to be a rental property when other townships charge much more? Shouldn’t the township work harder to bring in residential housing where the owner actually lives in the neighborhood? How can solutions be found to these problems? By using your voice and making sure our elected officials know that their inaction won’t be accepted come election time.