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Ridley Park: A Homey Enclave and Leave It To Beaver-ville

If Ridley Park were the first Philadelphia area community you had ever visited - a father's job interview at Boeing in the early 1960s - you are overtaken by remembrances of things past.

Realtor Nicole Ritchie describes the borough of Ridley Park as "a cluster of residential, commercial and industrial" parcels. Add proximity to Interstate 95 and a stop on SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line, and the picture is complete.

Well, not quite. If you've ever shared an office with someone who grew up there and graduated from Cardinal O'Hara, about nine miles away, you may know lots of things about Ridley Park that aren't listed in the guidebooks. This article by Inquirer Real Estate Columnist Alan J. Heavens is why he calls Ridley Park a homey enclave

Ridley Park is, unashamedly, a blue-collar, tight-knit, family-oriented community filled with a variety of houses - singles, mainly, with a few smallish twins and rows - from 40 to 140 years old.

Several generations of families live on the same street or within a block or two of one another, says Ritchie, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Media.

It is also home to a historic district filled with Victorian-era homes built by Philadelphians as summer retreats.

The Wilmington/Newark line was originally the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, whose president, Isaac Hinckley, hired Boston landscape architect Robert Morris Copeland to design Ridley Park.

Barbara M. Mastronardo, an agent with Weichert Realtors in Media, spent her first 10 years in Ridley Park, recalling the days when she and her friends would ride their bikes to Costa's Pharmacy for ice cream sodas.

"I grew up on Tasker Street and learned to ice skate on Ridley Lake," Mastronardo says.

Lakeview Elementary School overlooks the lake.

The borough of 7,002 people is a "real enclave, a village, actually," she says.

"Residents call themselves 'Parkers,' to distinguish themselves from Ridley Township - the 'Ridleyites,' " she says.

The borough is distinguished by its mature oak trees, its "cute" downtown, and the Ridley Park train station, where it is often tough to find parking spaces but is an easy walk for commuters who live along Ridley Avenue, Mastronardo says.

There is another station, Crum Lynne, down the line but in the borough, although out of its zip code.

The housing market was brisk early in the year but slowed a bit in the summer months, Ritchie says.

In the last three months, she says, 52 houses have gone to settlement, with 65 active listings ranging from $69,900 to $389,900.

The median sale price, according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert, is $345,000.

Ridley Park, Ridley Township and Eddystone make up the Ridley School District.

The median sale price for the township was $433,000 on 15 sales, while Eddystone's was $71,000 on 25 transactions in the second quarter of 2015.

Of the properties sold and sales pending - 125 in the last three months - 9 percent were bank-owned houses repossessed after foreclosure and 10 percent were estate sales, Ritchie says.

"Some of the houses in the estate sales were sold to another member of the family," she says.

Often, when a house comes on the market and doesn't go to a family member, a neighbor with a son or daughter in need of a first house typically is among the bidders.

Although there are conventional mortgages being used in greater numbers as credit has eased, "a lot of buyers are using FHA-insured loans because they require only 3.5 percent down," Ritchie says.

There are a lot of seller assists, she says, given that many of these houses require updating.

There is some new construction - "one here, another there," Mastronardo says, but houses in Ridley Park are older.

"Some of the houses are on double lots" - most are 50 feet by 100 feet, "narrow and deep," she says, and the larger Victorians are much less expensive than comparable houses in Swarthmore, for example.

Employment "supports the housing market," Mastronardo says, with Boeing providing a lion's share of the jobs.

"When I was growing up, this was Leave It to Beaver-ville," she says.

Today, "it is a lot more congested because there's more traffic," she says.

This article by Inquirer Real Estate Columnist Alan J. Heavens

Town By Town: Ridley Park By the Numbers

Population: 7, 002 (2010)
Median household income: $58,217 (2013)
Area: 1.1 square miles
Settlements in the last three months: 52
Homes for sale: 65
Average days on market: 112
Median sale price: $345,000
Housing stock: 3,167 units, singles, twins and a few rows; Victorian historic district
School district: Ridley
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Nicole Ritchie, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors

Read more at philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/town-by-town

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Comment by tim devabey on October 27, 2015 at 10:25am

@Jim Butt,  Now I ask for clarification--is your statement a "lack of" concern or an inability to comprehend the need for concern about little picture issues?  I ask because in the bigger picture (not picking on Taylor or their un-taxed businesses) do you feel comfortable that the present Council has made wise decisions to moving RP in a direction that you can embrace?  Do you feel that the Berger administration is the best future? Do you see where the residential character of the Borough is being protected or threatened or challenged as a quality of life issue? Thanks for considering these questions.

Comment by tim devabey on October 26, 2015 at 7:04pm

@Jim Butt,

OK, let's move on; this topic is getting into the weeds or maybe too nuanced for general consumption...

In closing, let me say that I was the only "civilian citizen" at the RP Comprehensive Plan review meetings the last time around...(before the recent revision process).  I have some notes to hunt for.  The series of meetings I refer to was maybe 15 years ago (?).  I remember that at first, I was not allowed to see copies of the papers being discussed because I was not "a member of the task force."  No I was merely a concerned resident.  Later, I was allowed copies stamped with the warning "for discussion purposes."  Maybe also I was told not to remove them from the room--I forget for sure...  I do remember very clearly the night the man from the County Planning Department introduced the concept of INSTITUTIONAL Zone classification.  It was specifically designed at the County level to SERVE THE BENEFIT OF HOSPITAL EXPANSION.  Of course, that was long before Crozer took over Taylor Hospital.  You seem to know more about that situation than I do.  Certainly "Taylor" has long since ceased to exist as the once small local community hospital...

In prior comments you asked something about my concerns about tax exempt status for the "hospital?"  For a long time--too long, in my opinion--"Taylor" has operated a "take out cafeteria/restaurant" and a "Gift Shop" under the tax exempt umbrella of Taylor/Crozer.  How does Ridley Park Business Association attract new business when the "tax playing field"  is skewed in favor of out of town enterprise zones? 

Comment by tim devabey on October 26, 2015 at 4:07pm

@Jim Butt,  I see within the RP Comprehensive Plan revision adopted by this Council a clear (maybe somewhat veiled and obscured to some) threat to the best interests of our primarily residential community.  If we (you) regard RP as a residential town operating according to a Plan, then all of your previous observations should be informed by and flow from DECISIONS THAT SUSTAIN QUALITY OF RESIDENTIAL LIFE. 

Can you get answers to your concerns from some other source in RP, Council or Delco Planning?  I remember the question of Zoning coming up at a Council meeting and Pres Berger couldn't articulate the definition or impact of INSTITUTIONAL Zone recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan as voted on by his (Berger's) administration.  In fact, he got confused and called it INDUSTRIAL which is a whole other topic.  Would you want to reach out to RP Planning, RP Zoning, or RP Councilors for a full expose on this topic?  I am certainly not the spokesperson for the Berger administration or the Councilors who follow his lead.

Comment by tim devabey on October 25, 2015 at 9:52am

@Jim Butt,

It is not about "my" concern.  You don't mean to make this a personal opinion argument, right?  The point is:  Most residence don't understand the increased pressure placed upon our residential neighborhoods by the direction proposed in the RP Comp Plan as revised by this current administration.

The likely hood that these changes will by enacted into Codes and Laws is very great.  Why else would this administration have spend time and money on the revision?  Look at the list of participants in the front of the RP Comp Plan revision.  Study the definition of Institutional Zone and what is allowed in Institutional Zone AS WRITTEN IN THE REVISED RP COMP PLAN.  

Comment by tim devabey on October 24, 2015 at 4:58pm

Look up INSTITUTIONAL Zone definition.  See where (on the future land use Map) it is suggested to be implemented.

Comment by tim devabey on October 24, 2015 at 4:36pm

@Jim,

True, the RP Comprehensive Plan is more of a guide than writ in stone.  But the reality is that the current revision reflects the unique goals and ambitions of the drafters (see the list of participants in the opening pages of the Plan) and the Councilors who voted to adopt it, more than the overall sustainability of quality and resources which would make the Plan more reflective of our Town's uniqueness.  Remember President Berger's remark "where do we go from here?" Can we expect the same persons who voted for the current Plan to question implementing into Codes and Laws any of "suggestions" they have already recommended when they adopted the revised Plan?  Not likely. Especial attention needs to be focused on suggested ZONING CHANGES and the potential devastating effect they might have on our residential nature.  Etc.

Comment by tim devabey on October 24, 2015 at 10:43am

@Jim,  The "visioning" process you describe has taken place prior to the adoption by Council of the revised RP Comprehensive Plan a year ago.  Review the Plan; in the front it explains the process and the list of participants in the process.  If you compare the recent revision with the prior Plan(s), you can get a sense of the direction some people wish for Ridley Park.  Do you see it as a "good" future?  Do you see the Plan "correcting" problems of the past, or maybe causing more trouble?  Pay close attention for example to proposed zoning changes/re-classifications...    And "suggested funding methods" (aka tax increases)...

Comment by Linda Shockley on October 23, 2015 at 10:01pm

@Jim, I have been having the same thoughts as you, that bad-mouthing the community can hurt the property values that everyone claims to care about.  We who live in RP know the context that these comments are coming from, whereas those who live elsewhere and are thinking of moving here could be put off by such comments.  Is there a way to communicate the problems without making it seem like RP is totally going downhill?

Comment by Howard McCoy on October 23, 2015 at 4:06pm

@Parker Maven, Tim, and Jim: thank you for conversation surround a common topic on how we can improve Ridley Park. 

...that focusing the attention away from these serious issues we have in Ridley Park to a problem of anonymity on a blog post is a tactic to steer away from the real issues (we see this all too often in our country).  It encourages people to become complacent and breeds apathy on every level....Let's get back to the reason we have this blog; (or any other); to discuss (even debate) topics that are specific and relative to how we can improve Ridley Park.  On the upcoming election day, I will be there, pulling my lever (responsibly and anonymously).

Ridley Park's improvement "is" RPOL's mission and "dial-it-down" hyper-local, digital news and conversation at a local community level is new.  New to hear, new to participate with, and new to finding ones' effective voice.  With no definitive road map, first amendments rights, and a growing tutorial of do's and don'ts, RPOL is a new experience in cooperative, community participation. What I didn't anticipate was a need for crowd control. 

Spammers are RPOL most troublesome, disruptive, and time consuming problem to RPOL's community based conversation. It's days sometimes to clear or reject new members because the main goal now is to keep out spammers and weed out honest contributors...it was once reversed and I find it disruptive to a spontaneous community experience.

I also didn't think we'd run into the likes of a network-terrorist like Tom Parks either.  "Tom Park" refers to a user's infamous pseudonym who's since became RPOL's most famous ex-Troll.  I'm confident that Tom Park was not self guided.

Our town has several problems and election day is when these matters are settled. Apathetic voters settle many of Ridley Park's troubles. I can't understand staying at home and not voting.  This election decides if we rehire the one's who have taken us this far because we approve of their leadership, or do we hire new Council Members in hopes of a new direction?  I too will be there, pulling my lever responsibly.

Thank you again for a good community conversation.

Comment by Parker Maven on October 23, 2015 at 7:29am

I think exactly what transpired here, on this blog, is an example of what has contributed to the downfall of our little hamlet.  Those who publicly (anonymously or not) express their opinions and hold elected officials responsible to perform their civic duty  are "mouthing off", labeled "lunatics, considered negative & disrespectful so they keep quiet, they don't get involved, they become apathetic while they watch their town, their home's value and their beloved community go down the tubes.  I repeat what I strongly believe to be true with Jim (and I'm sure there are others)....that focusing the attention away from these serious issues we have in Ridley Park to a problem of anonymity on a blog post is a tactic to steer away from the real issues (we see this all too often in our country).  It encourages people to become complacent and breeds apathy on every level.  Why do you care what my name is?  Do you want to tap me on the shoulder in 7-11 and say "hey you", blah, blah".....Let's get back to the reason we have this blog; (or any other); to discuss (even debate) topics that are specific and relative to how we can improve Ridley Park.  On the upcoming election day, I will be there, pulling my lever (responsibly and anonomously)

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