The block located at 47th Street and Cedar Avenue in Cedar Park is home to both new and longtime residents. The Queen Anne style buildings, which are Victorian architectures, show both the uniqueness and history of the neighborhood. Large porches accompany vibrantly painted houses and voluptuous gardens, which residents take pride in to beautify their home. The diverse block attracts students of the nearby universities as well as families who call Cedar Park home.
Anita McKelvey has lived and worked all over the city. From Rittenhouse Square to Fairmount and Spring Garden neighborhoods, McKelvey finally settled in Cedar Park. Although she has only lived in Cedar Park for two years, McKelvey said she is captivated with the neighborhood and is infatuated by the many gardens. The transition from living in high-rise apartments to having a front yard was all McKevley and her cat needed. While she tends her garden, her cat is able to explore the neighborhood with ease.
Aside from the beautiful environment, McKelvey said she loves the atmosphere of this part of the city.
“All the service businesses one needs are laid out on Baltimore Avenue,” McKelvey said. “You meet your neighbors at the trolley stop, at the shops.”
In addition to the small shops, the neighborhood hosts events to promote residential relationships. Some examples are the front porch hop and the neighborhood watch group’s monthly potluck.
What struck McKelvey most was the wide range of age and diversity evident in the neighborhood.
“West Philly has a great vibe,” she said. “Like a throwback to the ’60s mindset: peace, love, tolerance, acceptance, food sharing. All that’s missing is a small arts movie theater or screening room.”
Like living in any neighborhood, there are pros and there are cons. Despite all of the perks,which came with living in Cedar Park, there were also some disadvantages. McKelvey found the tax system to be adverse.
“We elected a mayor, not Superman,” McKelvey said. “Nutter and his staff got a lot to do and there’s no money to do what needs to get done.”
Since Cedar Park is home to many small and locally owned businesses, McKelvey said she believes the city needs to humanize the process of administering business taxes, especially for those small businesses and sole proprietors. She said she believes the tax forms are illogical and are sometimes impossible to estimate taxes, which are paid a full year in advance. The result of the tax dilemma is residents paying penalty and interest even in years where there are no taxes owed.
McKelvey also suggested ending the 10-year real estate tax abatement would improve the living in Cedar Park. If it were up to McKelvey, she would provide tax incentives to any resident who improved existing properties, not just new construction.
“Meanwhile, thousands of delinquent landlords owe millions in unpaid taxes to the city,” McKelvey added.
McKelvey also said she thinks the city needs to get the Parking Authority back.
“The state wrestled that from Mayor Street ages ago and nearly all the revenue goes to the state. The city needs that money. It’s being created here, it should stay here,” she said.
An advocate for cultural heritage tourism, McKelvey said she feels tax credits should be given to developers and contractors to conduct archaeological surveys and digs prior to construction. Arguing that Philadelphia has lost much of its 19th and 20th century industrial history, she said most of the evidence is still intact below ground.
“New construction is the perfect time to do archaeology,” McKelvey said. “Archaeology does not stop or slow development. Every country in Europe and Israel has such policies in place to protect or document their heritage. Tourists come to Philly to see history and this is where the country started. Public archaeology is a great way to attract tourism dollars to the city.”