On Saturday, at Upper Darby High School, results from a comprehensive plan survey were released whereas residents were able to speak to representatives about what they find as the most important issues of the township. The meeting was attended by residents of all the different neighborhoods of Upper Darby, such as, Highland Park, Bywood, Drexel Hill and LLanerch Hills. Attending the event also included Mayor Tom Micozzie, Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, and State Representative Margo Davidson. As you entered the event,a small bag of change was given to you and you then were asked to place what you wanted in various piggy banks. You were encouraged to add to the bank you thought needed it most, such as education, business or development. The event was divided into different groupings such as public safety, education, business and transportation. At each grouping, there were surveys for that particular field that residents were encouraged to fill out.
The meeting was not a stump and speech event. The township officials rubbed elbows with their constituents and spoke to them person to person. Mayor Micozzie took time to answer questions about the survey and what he thought the future of Upper Darby is. He spoke of encouraging business development and creating a better tax base. Superintendent Chitwood spoke about the work the police department is doing to create a safer environment in Upper Darby. Groups of people would break into small groups to talk about how to improve the quality of life. Jim Kirk and Quron Banks debated the issue of offering reduced real estate taxes for developers to bring life back to abandoned properties.
One of the largest draws for comment was the education section. There was great discussion of what makes Upper Darby a good school district and what others thought could be done to improve the schools. Most people believed that more needs to be done, to stop illegal students from attending area schools, that more money is needed for education that needs to come from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that there is a need for more parent involvement. There was a lively discussion of the idea of bringing charter schools to Upper Darby. The overall opinion was a resounding NO. Dan Kec remarked that throwing new schools such as charter schools is mix was not what Upper Darby needed at this time. He also agreed that parental participation is a must and that to really help the school district it is a must.
One other issue that people talked about was home ownership that is occupied by the actual owner versus rental properties. Neighbors time and time again voiced that concern that too many properties are in decline and that there are too many rental properties. Suggestions regarding this issue was to limit the actual number of rental homes, increasing the application fee for rental properties and new regulations regarding their safety such as sprinkler systems for all rental properties. Residents voiced that they would like to see more owner occupied homes and less rentantal properties.
Bringing business to the Upper Darby Township was also a large concern for residents agreeing that bringing new business would help alleviate the tax burden on residents.