Tasco is skeptical.
"We've had situations where kids congregate, have fights, and the police have to be called, and then (residents) wind up calling us," she said.
Yesterday, Guss organized a neighborhood rally at Broad and Erie trying to drum up support for Playarama. On Nov. 15, the city Zoning Board of Adjustments rejected Guss' appeal for a variance that would allow him to put about 30 amusement machines in the store. A Tasco staff member opposed Guss during the board hearing.
"He lives in New Jersey," Tasco said. "By putting in an arcade, he doesn't have to be there. He can put in his machines and let the children leave their money there."
Guss objects to the suggestion that he's a carpetbagger. Although he lives in Marlton now, he grew up just a few blocks from Germantown and Erie and operated a clothing and shoe store in that shopping district until three years ago.
"Look, it's not like we're talking about another stop-and-go (take-out beer store) or a pawn shop," he said. "This is a place for parents in this neighborhood to bring their kids for parties or just a good time."
A dozen people joined Guss yesterday. He wants to meet with Tasco and other politicians in hopes of winning them over. He also says he hopes a possible court challenge could prompt the zoning board to reconsider.
Vanessa Withers was one parent who rallied with Guss.
"I have five children and three grandchildren," Withers said. "If I want to take my kids to a place like this, I have to get them all on SEPTA to go up to Northeast Philadelphia."
Resident Willie Owes agreed with Withers.
"I think Tasco isn't being considerate of the children in the neighborhood," Owes said. "She's paying more attention to some of the other merchants. This business won't have anything to do with drugs; it's mostly for little kids."
Guss has several letters of support, including those from a local elementary school principal, clergy members, and the Germantown and Erie Avenue Businessmen's Association.