Upper Darby at a crossroad

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.


69th Street Bridge
69th Street Bridge, Upper Darby, PA

11 Replies to “Upper Darby at a crossroad”

  1. Great article! But I feel 15 years too late! I ve been a upper Darby resident for over 25 years and I have been employed in upper Darby for the last 18 years and 3 months! I m in the pizza business and extremely grateful for the residents of this township and their continued support for me and my family being at our small business for the last 18 great years. All the streets that you list on your article I have driven walked and worked in countless of times. I have been on and walked through every street in the upper Darby township delivering food to customers homes for the past 18 years. There are quite a few problems in upper Darby at the time. Section 8 housing is upper Darby’s downfall and let me explain why. The reason why all our community is suffering at the moment is because upper Darby lost it s appeal to young first time homebuyers which is causing for property owners to convert properties to rental units because of the high demand of renters in the area with the main transportation hub being at 69th st. Seeing work vans on west Chester pike is actually a good thing. When you have a mass group of people coming into a blue collar township and not having the same mentality about keeping the township a blue collar family oriented township everything else goes down with it as well. The UPPD are great! Without their professionalism and dedication to keeping this township above water upper Darby would of looked like downtown Chester about 10 years ago. I have so much more to comment on this issue but can t type it all on this response.

    Thanks for reading my response

  2. Unfortunately the laws & rules that we had to abide by don’t apply to the people that are now moving in, the township made my parents knock down their garage but the house on Arlington & Lynn Blvd whose roof is off the side porch nothing is being done about that, believe me my parents garage was nothing like this house, pisses me off!!!

  3. Our Nieghbrhood StoneHurst Area is literally a cross roads / a cut through from Long Lane to Church Lane. & the reverse avoiding several lights & busy intersections.its worst in Am & pm. These drivers are often speeding though doing 40÷ our streets the posted speed limit is 15. Stop signs ignored . Add dozens of derelict properties, TOO MANY RENTALS 90+ % of those that live in these don’t care about Our neighborhood . 3-4 work trucks parked on residential streets. Trash & debris somothering, our streets & alleyways.Landlords(using this term lightly) dumping funiture & tons of debris to be picked up by local trash collctions . Weeds & Derelict conditions in back alleys are horrific & dangerous to walk , drive . the Worst usually being abandoned or Rental properties. Nobody cares so nobody does anything, and we have called & reported repeatedly maybe just maybe the Forrest of weeds & debris a tamed but not maintained so very shortly it looks exactly the same as before. Dirty & nasty. For the 10% or So keeping our propeties clean is much more difficult due to constant onsluaght of blowing trash & debris. We have begged UD township for some interventions . Only to be told nothing can be done to find Owners , rental agents etc So we get look at deal with 1 house after another Fall apart right in front of Our Eyes while our property values plummet. Who in their Right mind will pay $$$ For my decent maintaned home when a few doors away a house will sell for $$ & then spend $ in often inferior fixerup materials to rent out for $$ let it fall apart again make $$$$ for a few yrs,, And the process repeats again… UD township does nothing as long as they get their cut (Taxes )

  4. There is not enough time for me to comment on this. The law abiding, tax paying residents do report things which are mostly blown off or laughed at by officers who respond and whose hands are tied because of people “rights”. Upper Darby is the clearest example of reverse racism I have ever seen. If you are a tax payer, legit school system user, etc., you are required to adhere to a different standard than other “groups” in the community. The Township seeks out well maintained properties for tiny infractions and send letter/fines to those people whom they assume can pay and leave other “groups” with extreme violations to leave them that way. They worry about houses being converted into apartments? What about the immigrants that move 25+ people into a two-threee bedroom house. Or house of people who have no school age children living in their residence but have every granchild, cousin, or whoever using their address for our schools. I could go on and on and on and on.

  5. Great article, but you failed to address the real problem. The real problem is there is not any legitimate employment in the area that would foster decent families. When the Navy Yard ceased to exist it destroyed thousands of solid blue and white collar jobs that fed the residents of Upper Darby. Until the area learns to properly subsidise employers there is no future.

  6. Recently i caught three 16 year old teens robbing my roomates car ,i called 911 because i knew i would get in trouble when i caught them. While i was on the phone with 911 i was looking for them and me and an east Lansdowne cop seen them at the same time. Soon as the cop put the light on them they ran. He got out an chased on foot and upper darby cops were at the bottom of the st. They caught them behind the goodwill and they even had the change they stole and the cops only charged them with curfue and disorderly conduct. What a crock that was. I even told the cop next time im not going to call. He said when you wake up just know you did the right thing. I just shook my head im disbelief and drove home. My truck ,car,and backyard and even my house has been robbed numerous times. The cop even said they had 20 cars robbed the day prior. Why is nothing being done or even charging the scum. Upper darby is sad compared to what it used to be. I still try my best to keep it nice but its getting old and its just sad to see what it has become. Nobody cares anymore.

  7. You cannot get 1st time buyers with the tax burden that is more than the principal on the mortgage. I left UD 16 years ago, after living there for 22 because of the every increasing real estate tax.

  8. Thank you for your critism. You’re right there have been problems on my life and I’m working to correct them. The PECO problem is actually still being litigated as my identity was stolen and PECO allowed multiple addresses to be used to the sum of $35000. My home is in foreclosure due to that but we are in the process of renegotiating the terms of the mortgage. I have never said I am a pillar of the community but I do have the right to say that that UD has problems. The Township isn’t all to blame as I pointed out. People sit on their butts and complain all the time but they won’t help the Township fix anything. As far as leaving UD, I have lived on the same street since 1963, I now take care of my 78 old father who also has lived here since 1963. Who better to say what has changed in the last 50 years. I am sorry you think me as despicable but I really have the interest of UD in my heart.

  9. We have lived in the township for over 55 years, the changes are heart breaking. We enjoyed all the park activities the township offered, when I realized it was no longer being offered, my first thought was, kids have no where to go and have supervised fun problems are goingto start and it did
    I live in the “Beverley Hills ” section of the township, the houses that look bad some are of our older seniors can’t afford to take care of things they are burdened with these high taxes especially school taxes, they shouldn’t have to pay them. They paid for their kids. The big shots /board should put their heads together and “STOP “putting this burden so they can do repairs and also be able to have enough money to enjoy other things. The problem as far as the ordinances on commercial vehicles being parked on the street and packed in driveways is not being enforced. ,also did any our inspectors think a business could be operating there. I personally look at this every day. The inspection comes and a week later it’s right back the way it was. And these TAXI CABS are parked a

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