Letters: High anxiety: Why we're not NYC

Posted: February 08, 2012

AFTER reading Valerie Russ' account of the defeat of the planned Chinatown/Reading Viaduct Neighborhood Improvement District, I thought about a tale of two cities. One is Philadelphia and the other, New York City.

In New York, city leaders, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, prominent city council members, leaders in business and industry, and the community as a whole came together and, over a lengthy process, agreed on a plan to fund and create a fabulous urban park on a dilapidated, unused portion of an elevated rail line.

This development of New York City's High Line has spurred at least 30 residential and commercial developments, reduced crime, created jobs and re-utilized an eyesore that was more expensive to tear down than to develop. The influx of folks to this formerly dreary and dangerous area has created an economic and social environment that is the envy of many cities, including Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, we have a much different story. We have a similarly dreary area, an obsolete elevated rail line, long-term residents and new neighbors alike who would love to see this kind of development and progress at this location. There is a cooperative mayor and city council, and dedicated, pioneering residents committed to urban life who could live elsewhere. These folks are willing to tax themselves for the resources to improve this neighborhood.

As I began the hearing of the rules committee last September to consider this legislation, which I thought was a no-brainer; I realized that our city is different from New York.

Sadly, this hearing was pervaded by an aura of fear, prejudice, anger and a real desire to stop any progress that could continue to drive this city forward as a place that all families, both new and old, could enjoy.

The tone of the hearing had an undercurrent of "us vs. them." A major theme of this hearing was "this is our neighborhood, not yours." Witnesses referred to the "Loft Dwellers" and "The Art Gallery People." It was sad, and, sad to say, I wasn't really surprised.

We'll never have the resources necessary to provide city services, affordable housing, economic-development opportunities or anything else that we all aspire to attain, without new residents and families moving into our city. We can choose to fold our arms across our chests and dismiss all things new and different, but we will not grow and reach the potential this city deserves.

Jim Kenney

City councilman

Explosive acts

Three black teens screaming racial slurs as they pull a white victim from a cab and beat him because he is white is not a hate crime, says D.A. Seth Williams, because they used the racial slurs only during the beating. They would have had to use the racial slurs on their way to the beating for it to be a hate crime.

Can anybody tell me the road to take out of Philadelphia before my head explodes?

Keith Callan

Philadelphia

The mayor convened a bevy of elected officials, the police commissioner and commanders who are members of the heroic, valiant Philadelphia Police Department, and federal as well as state law-enforcement staff, along with the district attorney. These special, chosen individuals supported Mayor Nutter in his unveiling of new anti-crime plans to combat the rising toll of homicides and shooting upon the city's well-being.

It is time for the community to offer help to this prestigious assemblage of leaders. We are the neighborhoods wherein the murders and violent shootouts occur. We must stand tall to those who are destroying our communities, killing off the best and brightest, and demand the end of violence to our young brothers of color and to their families, especially the mothers who have suffered the worst imagined loss - that of a child.

I am asking the parents, the neighbors and the teens to work diligently and unselfishly to save our young people from the unnecessary death of our children and their dreams. Let us carry out our clear message of leadership in this era of violent crime. Together we can end the violence.

C.B. Kimmins

Philadelphia

The shortest straw

A loss of reputation vs. loss of innocence. It appears to me that the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia did not draw the shortest straw.

The Catholic Church has always had an entitled sense of authority and trust that was never earned. After 12 years in the Catholic school system, I was taught to never question their authority, for God has called them to serve him. Well, that era of undivided trust is over, and now it is time for our questions. The protection of the innocent, those who cannot stand up for themselves, is far more relevant than the reputations of those whose duties were to protect. Enough with the cover-ups!

The steps toward accountability and closure have never been more critical, so that the faithful can move on. The actions of a few do not define an entire faith. The judgment of Anthony Bevilacqua is beyond our jurisdiction. The judgment of his aides and how we move forward as a church, that is up to us.

Chrissy Hushen

Broomall, Pa.

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