Kensington resident, block captain of “The Village,” and NKCDC Community Connector
1. How does the closure of Somerset Station affect you and people in the neighborhood? What challenges may you face in accessing transportation now?
The closure has affected a lot of the people who have handicap issues and older people who have to go to their doctor’s appointments who can’t find their way down to Huntingdon. The Huntingdon Station or [Allegheny Station] environments are unsafe.
It also affects residents in the area. In “The Village,” quite a few of them work in the evening hours. They don’t get off until around 12 a.m., and they don’t get down to this area until 1 a.m. It’s putting everybody in a physical danger, or an emotional one, to have to walk through the conditions that are out there. It’s not like the conditions are going to go anywhere because they shut Somerset Station down.
I’m more concerned for the elderly and those working at night because there are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to the closure.
Editor’s Note: The two-block area from Somerset to Sterner streets and between Jasper and Helen streets, also known as “The Village,” is home to a collective of residents who are active in neighborhood cleanups.
2. What are the conditions like at Somerset Station and on the Market-Frankford Line? How do they affect you?
The conditions are really unwarranted. The conditions are very hazardous because there are so many [people using drugs]. They’re out in the street. They eat in the street. They go to the bathroom in the street. Biohazard. Biowaste.
A couple of years ago, right before the pandemic, … we had an outbreak of hepatitis A because of people going to the bathroom in the streets. And everybody was subjected to getting hepatitis A [vaccines] because of the conditions in the street.
3. What kinds of solutions could be implemented to create safe and reliable transportation in Kensington?
All of us that work together, NKCDC and [We CAN], we were also thinking of doing surveys in the community of what times people usually use the El or what time they usually come home from work; maybe offering some type of shuttle transportation. Also, during those late hours, working along with the 24th and 25th district to make sure that those who volunteer their services to come and pick residents up from those areas at night and bring them to the homes are secure while they’re waiting.
Editor’s note: We CAN (Change & Action Now), a community-based crime reduction initiative, is made up of three local organizations, HACE CDC, Impact Services, and NKCDC.
4. Should there be a community-led advisory board, made up of stakeholders like the City, SEPTA, Kensington residents, civic associations, nonprofits, and businesses, that comes up with a plan for reopening the Somerset Station and provides long term solutions to the problems that led to its closure?
Yes. … But, it all comes together in a collaborative effort. Dealing with the actual problem itself that caused it to be the way it is. The [people in addiction], the overpopulation of [people experiencing homelessness] causing the situation to be the way it is. I believe if the [civic organizations] come together in an effort to resolve the problem — because we can work around it all day long and the problem is still there. Meetings aren’t going to do anything, if nothing is going to actually be done about the problem itself. So, I believe we can get more done together than we can individually. There’s power in numbers.
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Editors: Zari Tarazona, Claire Wolters / Designer: Henry Savage
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