Sunday, March 29, 2009
The assortment of signs--Korean, American, Vietnamese and so on--lining the Fifth Street business district, showcases the rich diversity in the area. The smell of the Caribbean welcomes us as an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables are at our fingertips while we walk along the strikingly clean corridor. Momentarily, we would be meeting with Barbara Bishop and Paul Aylesworth, two individuals who can take a good bit of credit for the noticeable revival of the Fifth Street neighborhood.
As we walk through the door at the Business Development Services, we see a multitude of photographs showing different areas within the Olney region, maps and digitally enhanced photos showing what things could look like after all goals have been met. Bishop and Aylesworth welcome us into their office and share with us their devotion to the Fifth and Olney Revitalization Project.
It is something that particularly holds a place in Barbara's heart, as she has been a resident of Olney for 40 years now. She and her husband bought a used sidewalk-sweeping machine and hired someone to clean outside of storefronts six days a week. It is a task that has done wonders for the appearance of the neighborhood and with future plans that include the additions of new crosswalks, cameras and storefront lighting, Bishop and her colleagues seem to have an unwavering determination to get the area back on its feet.
Paul Aylesworth was kind enough to offer us both a reccomendation for lunch and a meeting with local pawnshop owner, Dean Rubenstein. As we made our way into his narrow shop, cigarette smoke lingered in the air while jewelry cases and Philadelphia sports memorabilia lined the walls. Rubenstein, a Philadelphian born and raised, offered us a glimpse into the world of small business within the area and told us of his concerns for local merchants in regards to tax increases in Mayor Nutter's new budget proposal. It was wonderful talking to him because it put a face with the anxiety that many are feeling, and really allowed us to better understand what we were here doing in the first place.
After a delicioucly spicy lunch of chicken roti at reccomended local Caribbean eatery, Hot & Tasty--a worthwhile stop thanks to our server's entertaining multitasking of preparing our lunch and spinning his turntables--we finished up our long day through the Fifth Street district. Meeting with Barbara, Paul and Dean, and dining amongst locals, showed us a new side to the community that we had not really seen just yet. Although we had to leave, there was a mutual consensus that we wanted to stay there longer and take in more. One thing is for sure, we will be heading back to Fifth Street.
Group 9 Olney/Logan: Casey Snyder, Mari Saito and Julio Nunez
Posted by caseysnyder at 8:23 PM