Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Despite being a quarter-century-old problem, the Logan Triangle continues to be one of the area’s most controversial issues. The 35 acres of stagnant land conjures heated debates at community meetings, but fervent arguments often sizzle to sighs of lost hope. One local resident’s opinion remains as hot as it was 25 years ago, when the dilemma began, and justly so. Doctor Donald Turner’s practice is one of the few buildings still standing on the blighted land.
“MAYOR GOODE THOUGHT MY WHITE FRIENDS WOULD HELP ME,” reads a sign on top of Courtland Street Medical, the font larger than that of billboard advertisements. “Things have gone from bad to worse,” explains Turner. He blames former mayor Wilson Goode for the empty land that sprawls out from his building. In 1984, Goode took office, in the following years the deconstruction of the Logan Triangle began.
“My block was the first to be torn down,” explains Turner. He says Goode’s primary concern was to relocate the black residents, which was the entire block aside from him. The Doctor’s small practice was spared, masked as a blessing; it is the only structure on the block that still stands.
The building appears more like a shed from a distance, dwarfed by overgrown weeds which rise halfway to the roof. Along the cement side wall, a staircase ascends a few feet, only to crumble to a detritus of rock and litter. The front of the building, painted white, bows at its base with a decaying sidewalk. “One time a cancer patient fell in a sinkhole,” says Turner, “I thought they’d shut me down for sure.”
He wasn’t shut down. And he won’t be. The city has tried to force the doctor out, but he stands his ground--no matter how unstable it is. “They won’t offer me a buyout,” he says. Relocating without funds is out of the question. Turner has lost, and continues to lose service because of the physical location and condition of his practice.
“I’m embarrassed to bring friends here,” he says, “it’s not the nicest place.” In addition to driving away clientele, Courtland Street Medical’s location and appearance deter potential help from hospitals. “No hospital wants to put money into a place like this,” says Turner.
Things didn’t get any better after Goode left office. During Mayor John Street’s tenure, Councilwoman Marian Tasco confronted him with the Logan problem. Turner claims that the two had irreconcilable personal issues with each other which prevented action from being taken. “Tasco fought with Street,” says Turner, “they didn’t get along, so nothing happened.”
Since the houses in the 35 acres were torn down, Turner’s practice has deteriorated both physically and economically. The building is dilapidated and clientele is dwindling. After pleading his case in court multiple times to no avail, government interest has also diminished. “Judges just sigh at the story,” he explains, “you have to know people to win in court.” Turner continues to fight, always looking for new ways to bring life to the area, but he admits the road has been rough: “It’s difficult, after a while it becomes depressing.”
By Alex Onkow and Stacey Naughton
The revitalization of the corridor has brought together artists and business owners who all have one main focus—economic improvement of the area. With this frame of mind, First Fridays have become a huge event on the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor. This Friday marks December’s First Friday and a big one for Fishtown.
Highwire Gallery will have an opening reception for their annual Community Group Exhibit, “Art for the Urban Collector,” GERM Books and Gallery will have two art shows, one featuring documentary photography and one featuring found object sculpture and the Walking Fish Theater will have a showing of it’s latest production, “A Fractured Christmas Carol.”
First Friday events don’t end with gallery openings. The night will also consist of deals on seasonal and draft beers at O’Reilly’s Pub, two shows at Johnny Brenda’s and the newly opened, fine art/print and paper collectible shop, Perpetua will be selling antiques and collectibles at half price.
Spending First Friday on Frankford Avenue is the perfect opportunity for some early holiday shopping. Not to mention, you can enjoy most of the events happening on First Friday for absolutely no cost! Head over to Black Vulture Gallery for food and drinks or Liberty Vintage for a live performance by the student band from Philadelphia High School for Performing Arts.
By Lauren Macaluso & Tyler Laurie
Group 13, Fishtown
For this final blog post we decided to do something a bit different. A stop motion video tour of the streets of Strawberry Mansion, starting at 33rd and Montgomery St. or John Coltrane Avenue. The video is accompanied by John Coltrane's, "While My Lady Sleeps."
The same night I sat down to write a frustration-filled blog post about the current serial killer in Kensington just so happened to be the same night news broke that the man who was accused of raping an 11-year-old girl in Kensington in June of 2009 finally admitted to his guilt.
The neighborhood which I’ve been hanging around in and reporting on for this class is the exact area where this serial killer has been striking. See the interactive map below.
View Kensington stranglings in a larger map
While crimes like these happen in the city of Philadelphia almost every day, Kensington just seems to come up on breaking news more frequently than other neighborhoods.
If you search 'Kensington' on Philly.com, your results will consist of seven articles about the serial killer, one about the convicted rapist, one about a Kensington children's soccer team and another about a man shot and killed on Thanksgiving.
A neighborhood that strives so hard to revitalize its community with organizations like the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, is being held back every day by these violent crimes. When broadcast news reporters are warning me to not go into the neighborhood alone, how will the community ever grow and improve?
By Kait Privitera & Eric Pellini
Monday, November 29, 2010
His neighbors have taken precautions and carry fake wallets, knives, mace and guns. G. Whitney, a two year resident in the area, has a calmer approach and is currently pushing for a Neighborhood Watch program. However, upon his inquiry of a Watch program, he was told that University City officers patrol the area and that the idea was unnecessary. “There’s only so much area they can cover…I wouldn’t mind patrolling the area in shifts. “The difference between being Quick or the Dead [is that] the survivor’s the one who’s prepared and acts decisively to defend him/herself. And in most cases, junior thugs will pass on someone with the gumption to fight…they’ll simply apply their profiling/stereotyping to the next prospect and hope [they’re] more compliant.”
|Arch Street United Methodist|
Upon my arrival, I was quite surprised by the center’s appearance. For starters, the location of the center was at the corner of the 5300 block of Haverford Avenue in West Philadelphia, and once I made my way to the building I was shocked to see a firehouse station. But, what appeared to be a firehouse station was really the side entrance of the center. I must admit the center was not at all what I had expected. In my mind I assumed the center would be more like a nursing home rather as opposed to a recreational facility for the elderly. course, my original assumption was incorrect.
“This is a facility where the members come to visit us six days a week. During the week, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., we provide socialization services, and we are funded by the PCA (Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging),” says Cathy Brewington, director of the center.
During my visit to the Haddington Multi-Services Center, Brewington made it a point to inform me about the overall history of the organization. From the conversation between Brewington and myself, I learned the center was created and founded by Geneva A. Black, executive director, who was away from her office at the time of my visit.
In the 38 years this organization has existed, the mission has always been simple: “to provide quality and effective in-home, community services to the elderly population.” Some of the services and activities that are available to the members of the Haddington Multi-Services Center are: arts and crafts, computer classes, exercises and fitness, African American history classes, pool, peer counseling and much more. After my interview with Brewington, I had a chance to interact with some of the members, and see the activities some participate in on a daily basis. I observed as some of the male members played a game of pool. I also took a walk through the dining area of the center.
Thanks to the services provided by Black and the rest of her staff, the elderly of the Haddington community have a home away from their home.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
As the first African-American woman appointed principal harpist on the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she is an inspiration to the younger generation. Many people do not know the harp orginated in Africa. In 1997, Pilot was the subject of a PBS documentary, Ann Hobson Pilot: A Musical Journey, after she and her husband traveled to Africa to research the origins of the harp.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
As Temple University's Football team gears up to play Miami of Ohio tonight in Ohio, the outcome of a bigger situation remains on Temple's campus. Two football players have been accused of raping a female student. Ray Betzner, Assistant Vice-President of University Communications said "Temple University received a report of a sexual assault that took place in a University residential hall over the weekend."
The incident is said to have taken place inside of 1300 Residence Hall, located on Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Several students have confirmed that alcohol was present.
A freshmen who lives on the same floor as the players said she knows the players personally and she doesn't "think it's in their character" to do something like this. Another student who lives in 1300 said he has been hearing "a lot of stuff" concerning the incident, including that the alleged victim "was really drunk" that night.
According to Betzer, information concerning the incident is currently being reviewed by the Police Department and Special Victims Unit. Campus Police have directed all questions to University Communications at this time.
Extra Credit Assignment
Monday, November 22, 2010
At around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 17., three young girls were held at gunpoint down the street from the PAL center located on Clearfield and Belgrade streets. One of these young girls was an avid member of PAL and was headed home after a dance class. The gunmen were said to have been asking the girls for drugs and when they said they didn’t have any, the gunmen robbed them of what they did have-their phones and what little money they had in their pockets.
In lieu of this unfortunate event, leaders of the PAL Positive Images Program, Officer Ernie Rehr, Laura Kelly, PAL director, and Patty Pat-Kozlowski decided that instead of their usualMonday night activity, they would hold a self-defense class for PAL girls in hopes to prepare them for situations like being held at gunpoint, or being robbed.
Sensei Randy Pellowitz and his wife, Deb, from Karate 4 Women, based in Langhorne, P.A. coached the girls through a one-hour self-defense class in which they learned several basic
maneuvers in various attack situations. Pellowitz repeated each
move slowly and carefully so the girls were sure to remember.
“My goal is to not make you experts at what I do,” Pellowitz told the girls. “My goal is to try to teach you girls how to be safe.”
After the self-defense program, Officer Trina Willis, from the 24th district, also came in to talk to the girls not only about self-defense, but about sexual harassment as well. Many of the girls
asked serious questions like what do we do if we have to walk home alone and should we give the robbers what they want if they have a gun? While these questions may seem easy to answer, when actually faced with this type of situation, it can be hard for young girls to act the way they should.
“If the attacker has a gun, give him what he wants,” Willis said. “You can’t be a hero all the time.”
After the officers left, Kozlowski told the girls that Pellowitz offered them a month of free self-defense classes at his studio if they were interested. After a unanimous, “Yes!” Kozlowski created a sign-up sheet for the girls to write down what days worked best for them to attend so they could plan a time to all go together.
Since the night ended on a heavier note, Kelly decided to give each girl a beanie baby on the way out to lighten the mood.
By Ashley Huber
Two days later I found a public forum where each theft/robbery had been logged. A gentleman, “X” on the forum shared his story about his encounter that occurred a few days ago at 47th and Baltimore Avenue, infront of Fu Wah, Vietnam Cafe, Nick's and Mr. Lee's. When I contacted him, he was more than willing to share his story and said he wished he read the paper before the incident. X noted that most neighbors were and are unaware of what is really going on in Cedar Park. What’s unfortunate is that another “incident” happened yesterday afternoon. X said that “Any press promoting awareness of this issue will ultimately prove beneficial to public safety."
The school, founded in 1970, is run by Director Adam Levine. It is extremely small, with only about 60 students enrolled and eight teachers on staff.
We hope to speak to Director Levine, a few teachers and hopefully a student or parent about the perceived success of the school. Getting in touch with Dir. Levine has been very difficult, but we are confident that we will be able to get through to him and to cover this very interesting private educational project.
Mill Creek, Benjamin Frommer and John Jones.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Face to Face recently lost two community members: Alice Renzulli and George Winston. Glenn Murchinson, 62, spoke during the ceremony about his friend, George Winston.
"He was a nice guy. People were drawn to him. I knew he was sick but you would never know it; because, he was always smiling. He had this nothing is going to get me down attitude. George could endure anything that fell upon him. Being in the ceremony made me think about how other people have influenced my life," Murchinson said.Judith Fields, 66, came to remember and honor her mother, Lila Hill.
Alice was a gentle soul, who loved children. As a member of St. Vincent De Paul Church and casserole cook for Face to Face, Alice's gentle smile and dancing blue eyes will be missed by my family-especially my children, who loved to eat donuts with her and chat about what they learned at church that day.
"You can feel the manifestation of God's love for all human beings here. We are all family here. Everyone should pull together to help each other," Dominque Echevarria, 55, said.
Photo 1- Sheila Sharp, who is a volunteer at Face to Face, reads during the Remembrance Ceremony at St. Vincent De Paul Church. 109 E. Price Street. Face to Face held "Faces Never Fade Remembrance Ceremony" to honor homeless men and women that recently died.
Photo 2-Ernest "Flip" Flippen and Mary Kay Meeks-Hank at the reception after the Remembrance Ceremony at St. Vicent De Paul Church in Germantown.
Photo 3- Alice Renzulli hugs a friend outside St. Vincent Church 's rectory. photo credit Blaise Tobia
Photo 4-Chris Miller, 19, a University of Pennsylvania student plays the piano at the reception in the dining room at Face to Face in Germantown on Saturday afternoon.
Photo 5- Jonathan Thompson and Howard Cherry enjoy lunch in Face to Face's dining room.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Sedgwick Theater was once a very successful movie theater in the Mount Airy community. This art deco movie palace was built in 1928 and was designed by Architect William Harold Lee.
For about forty years the theater remained in operation, but when it closed in 1966 it was converted into a warehouse. At this time the new owners split the building in two, closing off the lobby and coat check from the main viewing stage. The owners attempted to restore the building, but they did not use the proper materials and actually caused more damage than help to this historic building.
David and Betty Ann Fellner purchased the theater in 1995, creating the Sedgwick Cultural Center which main purpose was to bring the community together and to help preserve the old theater house. Unfortunately the center separated from the theater in 2006, leaving the Fellners to resort to renting the old theater as storage space.
In Fall 2009 the Quintessence Theater Group signed a lease with the Fellner’s to use the theater as their new performance location. Assistant Art Director Pamela Reichen is one of the founders of Quintessence and helped make the decision to move their organization to the Sedgwick Theater. Aside from the building’s dire need for restoration, Reichen believes that the theater fits perfectly with their ultimate vision for Quintessence.
“It’s just an old building and wasn’t necessarily always properly taken car of, “ said Reichen. “But it definitely has a lot of character that we love and it’s definitely very conducive to the type of theater that we do.”
Quintessence discovered the Sedgwick Theater through Artistic Director Alex Burns, who grew up and still lives in Mount Airy. Burns had took Reichen to the theater in hopes of making it their new location for the theater group. The two fell in love with the space and a month later the space was officially the Quintessence Theater.
Burns and Reichen meet about for years ago while working at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington D.C. They talked about the state of theater and where they wanted their careers to go. Together they imagined having a company where they could build a classical repertory theater to develop and produce immediate and necessary performances. In order to do this they knew that they would need the support of the local community.
“This certainly won’t work here without the community’s support. The neighboring businesses on the block have been really great. Probably half of our donors are within a five mile radius of the theater and that is very encouraging to us,” said Reichen.
Although there has been a lot of support from the community, the theater house is in need of some very expensive restoration. Some parts of the ceiling are crumbling and the former stage and its seats are now a storage space for a furniture store that also rents the space. A large black pipe runs across Quintessence’s make shift stage, which was not part of the original design for the theater. Former attempts to repair the building have strayed away from the original Art Deco design, making it less authentic to its time.
“People who have never been here before are sort of blown away by the space because you don’t really get this kind of architecture anymore. The fact that it is still here and still exists has definitely made people understand the need to preserve it and to keep using it,” said Reichen.
Quintessence is now registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so obtaining funds to restore the theater has been a struggle, but they hope to one day bring back its place as a jewel in Philadelphia’s cultural landscape.
“Our first response to theater space itself was that it could be very similar to the BAM Harvey Theater in Brooklyn, New York,” said Reichen. “If we can just go that extra step and sort of finish it and keep it the way it is would be really ideal.”
Quintessence Theater Group is now showing Plato’s Apology, which will be shown Nov. 10 to Dec. 5, Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will be no performances Nov. 22 to Nov. 30 due to the Thanksgiving holiday. For more information about Quintessence Theater Group, please visit their website at http://quintessencetheatre.org/.
By Lisa Wilk and Keisha FrazierGroup 16 - Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The Lawncrest Civic Association Meeting has always been a very vocal gathering. The more than 80 people that turned out for Tuesday night’s meeting had great concern over the recent violence in the community.
William Glatz Jewelers has been a fixture on Rising Sun Avenue for over 40 years. After the recent murder of the well-known, friendly owner Bill Glatz, talk of the tragedy spewed talk for ways of future crime prevention.
Mark Mroz, community relations officer for the 2nd District, acknowledges that police did their job. The second suspect in the Glatz murder has been arrested.
“The shooting could have been prevented if someone at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility would not have let the robber, Kevin Turner, escape,” says Mroz.
It is now known to police that the suspects were casing the jewelry store for three days before the robbery occurred. John Perillo, a resident of the community, brought up the fact that police were not notified of the escape and questioned why.
“That’s a huge problem in reflecting on what happened here and what could have happened here,” Perillo says.
“I think there is some sort of conspiracy.”
Mroz had no idea why police were not alerted and informed. He told the group that a call should have been made to the police department when it was noticed the same two guys kept coming in and not buying anything in the jewelry store for three days in a row.
“If it looks, feels, smells no good—it probably is so give us a call,” Mroz says.
Residents at the meeting asked for more communication and prior knowledge on who police are looking for in the area. In the time before the meeting, Perillo gave Mroz the idea of handing out Most Wanted flyers at the community meetings to get the word out.
“I had planned on handing the flyers out at this meeting, but everyone on our list has been apprehended,” Mroz says.
The group blatantly sighed and laughed in relief. Residents seemed surprised to find out crime has gone down substantially in the community since last month. Mroz reminded the group not to get too ahead of themselves because the holidays are always a reason for crime to go back up. He left the group with some holiday dos and don’ts.
“Please don’t put items under the tree before the early hours or Christmas morning, don’t leave packages in the car, and don’t carry large sums of money or multiple credit cards with you at one time,” Mroz says. “And when you get a new big screen TV and put the box on the front yard for trash, cut the box up, turn it inside out and tie it up.”
By Nicole Dalrymple and Shaun Gallagher
Team 3: Northeast
Robert Rowser and his wife have lived in Elders Place apartments for three years. For a 540 sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment rent he pays $724 a month. But he is trying to look for another place to stay because his wife is on dialysis and he's worried about the future. Currently there are over 50 seniors living in his building and he's not the only one with problems.
Mr. and Mrs. Rowser are in need of many repairs. The two major ones are electrical problems and a plumbing. His front door won't lock properly. The list goes on. Despite repeated requests for service for the past two months, nothing has happened.
"I don't think they have the right kind of system. Just come and repair the building. They don't fix nothing, they don't have the equipment to fix anything with."
"I think they switched from one company to another I'd imagine."
The current property manager, Kyla Weisman Bayer could not be reached for comment.
This Friday, yet another company will own both Elders Place and Elders Place II as HUD has foreclosed on the properties.The senior citizen apartment complexes were owned and run by Greater Germantown Housing Corporation, a subsidiary of Germantown Settlement. Since Settlement's bankruptcy filing over 45 properties in germantown have been in legal limbo.
HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has decided to foreclose on both Elders Place on Wister Street and Elders Place II on Collom Street. According to HUD documents there is over $30,000 in electrical work to be done for Elders Place alone. The total estimated repairs for Elders Place is over $700,000 to bring the apartments up to federal housing quality standards required by HUD and an additional $220,000 for Elders Place II to bring it up to code.
But these buildings have run into problems since the beginning. Two audit reports by HUD, one filed in April 2007 and another in 2008 disclosed the financial mismanagement of GGHDC. For example, Elders Place II finished construction in June 2004. By March 2007 Settlement still had not filed proper expense reports.
The 2007 report ordered Elders Place II to repay over $80,000 in nonfederal funds because the money was spent for items not eligible for HUD funding. It also ordered Elders Place II to provide documentation for over $600,000 of expenses that they felt were questionable. Of the $600,000 given to Elders Place II $400,000 came from the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia.
An example of a violation occurred in December 2006.
The RDA gave Elders Place II $542,345 to be deposited into a project construction account as required by law. Instead $500,000 was deposited into a bank account owned by GGHDC according to bank statements.
In addition, bank records show $85,500 on one occasion and $101,572 on another of HUD funds meant for Elders Place II was paid to Germantown Settlement directly between 2004 and 2007.
HUD found no evidence of a board of directors for Elders Place II and warned that they would foreclose on the property if need be. Also, a 2008 Elders Place audit by could not account for $300,000 of funds and warned of foreclosure.
Both buildings are up for public bid on November 19th. The annual estimated income from the complexes before taxes is over $700,000. Over $900,000 in code violations and repairs are mandated to be taken care of by the new owner.
By Kristen Mosbrucker and Josh Fernandez
Members of the church, some being volunteers, helped purchase the house a year ago. Now they work tirelessly to ready the building.
For one member of the church, Bernadette Sanderlin, the demolition and construction of the new church has given her more than simply a chance to dirty her hands. The construction project also helped her overcome a battle with heavy drinking.
“I traded in a bottle for a hammer,” she says with a smile.
With support from the church she’s now been sober for over a year.
“This is my family. Not by blood, but they support me,” says Sanderlin, whose father, Joe, also attends the church.
Before the project, Sanderlin had never worked with the tools used to renovate the building. She learns on the fly, much like many of the other volunteers working on the project.
“[I work] wherever I’m needed and when I know what I’m doing,” she says.
With help from volunteers like Sanderlin the church hopes to have the building ready before the end of the year.
For Matthew Lin, the church’s pastor, the hard work from church members and volunteers makes the opening of the building extraordinary.
“Because so many people have their hands in it, that’s going to make it worth it,” he says. “People in general like to see people working and invested in their community.”
By Brittany Miller and Kenneth Marone
Team 14: Hunting Park
With a brisk winter approaching, harsh weather is something that those living on the streets are dreading. And some time ago, local volunteer Tom Costello found out some interesting information while volunteering at an event in Germantown’s St. Vincent de Paul. Tom Costello, now founder of the Joy of Socks, was told by a podiatrist that the hardest part for the homeless to care for are their feet.
As most homeless depend on donated charity clothes to bundle up in, many have their feet exposed to the cold much more than any other. Socks-- coming in pairs-- are hard to also keep together. And with an estimated 4,000 homeless in Philadelphia-- that’s 8,000 feet-- it is much more of a challenge to keep their feet healthy.
Costello, a professor at the near-by Chestnut Hill College, has organized an event this Friday in which helpers will put together 774 socks, all of which were donated by a manufacturer of Alabama.
Project Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education, also known as Project H.O.M.E, will be delivered the socks to distribute the socks to the homeless they’re working to serve. The organization in the community is to address the cycle of homelessness and focus on street outreach. While their main goal is to end homelessness, Project H.O.M.E is now taking part in the focus on their feet.
“Its getting cold, but I’m lucky to have shoes.” states Robert, a homeless man bundled in mismatched clothes and while resting Vernon park area. “ But I never have socks. I got these a while back, but I need some new ones. These are worn out!” As many like Robert may not be expecting a warmer winter ahead, they can start staying warmer by keeping their feet warmer. For more information on Project H.O.M.E, visit http://www.projecthome.org/ .
Team 10: Kali Wyrosdic and Maria Santilli
Yesterday, Nov. 17, local residents showed off their painting skills as the Portside Arts Center (Portside) hosted the second of three free mural creation events.
After two years of planning and organizing, the Portside, along with the Philadelphia Mural Art Program, has begun it's development of a mural that will wrap around the outside of the center's edifice.
What is different about this project is the Portside has invited the community to participate on major sections of the mural. In September, at the art center's annual block party, friends of the Portside began to paint whole panels and add buttons to one panel with a colorful fish on it.
Muralist Cesar Viveros designed the project applying his own paint by number system and to decide what images would be on the mural, the Viveros and the Portside enlisted the help of the community, accepting suggestions for designs and themes. Finally, an "under the sea" motif was chosen and to make it educational, the mural will include images of marine life indigenous to Philadelphia, New Jersey and surrounding areas like the shad.
By Chesney Davis and Ashley Huber
Team 12, Port Richmond