Our Organization: 1980’s

A great deal of EMAN’s energy during the 1980’s was devoted to joint activities with WMAN. The period saw the beginning of the Mt. Airy Village Development Corporation (now Mt. Airy USA) to encourage business development; Mt. Airy Learning Tree [1981] for community education; Mt. Airy Express [1981] a community newspaper which, in the late 1980’s was sold to ACME newspapers and became the Times-Express; and the Historic Awareness Committee. EMAN and WMAN continue to meet annually in January of each year to review their joint accomplishments.

The late 1980’s saw an epidemic of crack cocaine spread into the neighborhood. EMAN’s response was to increase Town Watch activity, to advise people how to report drug activity anonymously, and to develop better ways to work with the police department. Susan Simon began EMAN’s connection to the Police Advisory Council. Ernestine O’Connor continued to provide a strong EMAN presence on the Council until 2005. During this period the Mobile Police Sub-Station, a traveling trailer, became operational. It was stationed for three months at the corner of Musgrave and Hortter to strengthen that neighborhood, and to help residents regain control of their streets and corners.

In 1989, EMAN led the mayor and other city officials in a walk through troubled spots in the neighborhood, especially abandoned housing which became, at the time, easily occupied by drug dealers and users. This inspired the formation of Mt. Airy Block Leaders (MABLe) in the Musgrave area, and led to the bricking up of approximately 20 houses and the clearing of vacant lots by a City District Service Team.

MABLe, together with Neighborhood Action Clergy under the leadership of Rev. Janet Peterman at St. Michael’s Lutheran church, undertook to close two bars on Germantown Avenue, the Kent and the Wagon Wheel. The Kent was declared unfit by the City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections and quickly ceased operations. The Wagon Wheel was a harder problem to solve. EMAN members from all over the area marched and picketed Saturday after Saturday, and a law suit was filed. Eventually, thanks to community contributions, the Village Development Corporation purchased the property. The Wagon Wheel was torn down and replaced with the Mt. Airy Commons Building (now home to Mt. Airy USA, WMAN, the post office, and the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union).

At this time, EMAN was also an active participant in planning the project to build 18 new townhouses on the old Curtin School lot that were sold to owner-occupants. EMAN President Ernie Covington, as well as Ed Battle and Phil Carstairs from MABLe put in hundreds of hours of work to make this development a reality.