Rebecca Fabiano & Kevin Veltri
1. How does the closure of Somerset Station affect you and people in the neighborhood? What challenges may you face in accessing transportation now?
Rebecca: [Somerset’s closure] affects people who live and work here because it makes it nearly impossible to get to work; to get to medical services; to get to religious services. It’s really hard for some people to manage the extra quarter mile to Huntingdon Station. If you have to walk to Huntingdon, you have to walk under the [Kensington and Lehigh Avenue] tunnel. It’s dark. It’s poorly lit. It’s a real shame that this community continues to be overlooked and that the developers continue to push people out. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the change that needs to happen — no one mentioned the developers. Everyone talked about the politicians. But it’s really the developers I’m more concerned about.
2. What are the conditions like at Somerset Station and on the Market-Frankford Line? How do they affect you?
Rebecca: In general, the El train is poorly maintained. It’s probably understaffed. Somerset Station is completely under-resourced — both in terms of its cleaning supplies and staff. It’s a lot to manage when you’ve got people who are sick, or who don’t have somewhere to go to use the bathroom to clean themselves. So I don’t [blame] this on any one particular person or institution.
3. What kinds of solutions could be implemented to create safe and reliable transportation in Kensington?
Rebecca: First, we have to acknowledge that safety has to be for the people who currently live here. The plan cannot be designed so that other people who want to live in this neighborhood feel safe. The first priorities have to be really understanding what neighbors feel makes them safe and working with groups like NKCDC, Impact Services, Somerset Neighbors For Better Living — organizations who have really solid ideas. [The plan] has to be for the people who currently live here, not so that [developers] can strip this neighborhood clean and make it possible for new residents to come in. I’m not interested in the station being safe for new residents. I’m interested in it being safe for people who live here now.
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?
Kevin: It’s a great idea to bring multiple people to the table, specifically residents, but I think beyond that there’s got to be some action. There’s got to be financial support and resources put into the community so that [residents] are in a position that when [city leaders] are listening to people, and bringing them to the table, they can actually take steps to implement their ideas.
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Editors: Zari Tarazona, Claire Wolters, Siani Colón / Designer: Henry Savage
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