Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lord of the Towers II

The interior demolition of the Chester Towers has begun but my spies tell me all is not going according to Hoyle.

Some material is being hurled out upper floor windows raising questions about whether safety chutes are being utilized in all cases required by regulation.

Someone has called for the EPA to investigate. There's a load of asbestos in the towers that has to be removed in the proper way to avoid health and safety concerns.

More troubling about the proposed project is that that suddenly the community arts center that was supposed to be so beneficial to the young people of Chester no longer appears on the site plan.

It was the arts center that developers used to gin up community support for the project. It is also on the HUD Hope VI grant application which raises the question is this the same project that was approved by the feds.

Also gone from the site plan are the retail stores. But there are an additional 42 apartment, 22 more than approved by the HUD and negotiated with the city.

Questions also remain about the 99-year lease the developers have been awarded. I am told, it is 60 years longer than the contract for low-income housing.

What happens to the property after that contract is up in less than 40 years? Can the developers do whatever they want with it? That would be a pretty sweet deal.

In the meantime, Swarthmore College professor Keith Reeves, who wrote a 700-page report on the Chester Housing Authority and the plan for the Chester Towers, remains elusive.

I have called him mucho times. And he has failed to call me back. Not even the the school's communications officers, with whom I have spoken, were successful in getting hold of the elusive Dr. Reeves.

Questions have been raised about changes he might have made in his report at the request of interested parties. I wanted to ask him about this for almost a month. He is either a very busy man or he is ducking me.

There is a hearing at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning (Thursday) at City Hall at which the project will be discussed.

Maybe then the developers will be able to sufficiently answer all these questions to the satisfaction of city officials and residents.

I will not be able to attend but the Daily Times will staff it.

And, of course, my spies are everywhere.

UPDATE: Correction. The site plan calls for 142 total apartments, that's 22 more than the plan that was approved by HUD.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Randal said...

Why is public housing an endless entitlement? Seems to me every article I see about it mentions some old person who has been a resident of public housing “for 50+ years”. Isn’t that too long to ride that assistance? Why, in 50 years time, couldn’t they find a way to support themselves and get their own place and off the taxpayer’s back? Because there is not incentive for them to do so. Like Welfare reform, we need public housing reform that comes with a reasonable time limit for people to get off that teat.

September 19, 2007 at 11:19 AM 
Anonymous Ed said...

Gil,

You should just go up and visit this guy at Swarthmore College. I'm sure it's probably something innocent, like his secretary forgot or his phone number changed. Wait for him by his car and ask him when class lets out.

September 19, 2007 at 11:51 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil:

Did you call Judge Shapiro?

September 19, 2007 at 10:41 PM 
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