Monday, February 27, 2006

Stop PGW's Meter Madness














Can anything be done to stop the Philadelphia Gas Works from its continued defacement of the city's rowhouses? The city-owned agency, which behaves as if it were a small, oil-rich fiefdom, has decreed that every new rowhouse must install a gas meter the size of a small refinery on its front facade. Why? So it can shut off service for deadbeats without bothering to knock. It makes no sense. PGW is capable of turning off your gas from a computer inside its offices. The exterior meter is just a back-up. But the warty contraptions are a blight that is ruining the architecture of that great traditional form, the 16-foot-wide Philly rowhouse.

PGW's nutty policy has been in effect for years. But it didn't really matter much until new rowhouses started sprouting up by the hundreds. Many of these new projects take up a full block or more, which means you get a gas meter every 15 feet. My April 16, 2004 column on the subject hardly fazed them. Perhaps the Design Advocacy Group will have better luck. They've launched a letter writing campaign to pressure them to relent. But PGW's insistence on maintaining this policy is beginning to remind me of CSX's stubborn stance on the Schuylkill Banks grade crossings. At one meeting with the group's committee, PGW President Thomas Knudson walked out in a huff. He'll have more trouble after he gets a sack-full of protest letters.

3 Comments:

Blogger Gabriella said...

God how I love what you do. You are filling a huge void in Philadelphia, one that used to be filled by good corporate citizens that were headquartered here, and not in the middle of who-knows-where. Someone needs to articulate the opinions felt by so many, without the sounding board you have. The City, the Planning Commission (who knows why they exist at this point!), and developers need poking and prodding every step of the way to ensure that Philadelphia does not become another giant suburban strip mall, but rather, needs to be respected for the unique place it has always been.
I agree that these carbuncles that PGW insist on placing in front of otherwise lovely houses do not belong there. PGW has alternate means of stopping service. We also don't need to have garages in front of every rowhouse either.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...

It's bad enough when the city passes ordinaces that detract from the character and feel of the street, and take away from the architecture of a building ( as in the parking ordinance that placed a garage at the front of every new rowhome), but it seems entirely unacceptable that a utility company have enough power to dictate in the same manner. This is just insane from many different angles. This only further proves the need for beefing up our Planning Dept. so these things can be killed before they even see the light of day.

12:02 PM  
Blogger jakubowski said...

I had been wondering why these meters have been sprouting up around town, I agree they are hideous. However, why arent developers coming up with a creative solution to these such as a built-in cubby with access door to house these eyesores?

1:01 PM  

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