Port Richmond rallies for senior living project

The boarded-up front of va­cant Nativ­ity B.V.M. School, at Bel­grade and East Madis­on streets. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF “PORT RICH­MOND (PAST AND PRESENT) FOR THE TRANS­FORM­A­TION OF NATIV­ITY”

A new pe­ti­tion in sup­port of hous­ing at the va­cant Nativ­ity B.V.M. School had 759 sig­na­tures as of Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. Neigh­bors will send it to the state Su­preme Court next week, in hopes it will hear the case.

Neigh­bors in Port Rich­mond are com­ing to­geth­er in sup­port of a three-year-old pro­pos­al to con­vert the va­cant Nativ­ity B.V.M. School in­to hous­ing for re­stric­ted-in­come seni­ors.

As Star re­por­ted on Jan. 16 — www.bsmphilly.com/star/6631-just-an­oth­er-blighted-build­ing.html — Cath­ol­ic Health Care Ser­vices of the Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia was awar­ded $11 mil­lion in 2009 by the U.S. De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Urb­an De­vel­op­ment for the pro­posed apart­ments for seni­ors.

Port Rich­mond neigh­bors at that time were ex­cited, with 212 people sign­ing a pe­ti­tion in sup­port of the pro­ject.

Since then, Glor­ia Mar­shall, rep­res­en­ted in court by her son, at­tor­ney Jon Mar­shall — who has re­fused to com­ment — ap­pealed the city’s Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment and the state’s Court of Com­mon Pleas’ de­cisions to grant CHCS the vari­ances it needed for the pro­ject.

CHCS brought the case to the Pennsylvania Su­preme Court Dec. 27. It now awaits a hear­ing while the va­cant build­ing, at Bel­grade and East Madis­on streets, falls in­to dis­repair and has been a tar­get of theft and van­dal­ism over the years.

Now, Port Rich­mond res­id­ents are once again tak­ing ac­tion in sup­port of a liv­ing space for its seni­ors. Last week, neigh­bors or­gan­ized an on­line pe­ti­tion for CHCS’ pro­ject at www.go­peti­tion.com/pe­ti­tions/port-rich­mond-for-trans­form­ing-nativ­ity-school-in­to-sen.html.

As of early Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, 759 people had signed the pe­ti­tion.

Brid­get Colleen Cole, a teach­er at Moth­er of Di­vine Grace School, 2612 E. Mon­mouth St., said she and oth­er neigh­bors also col­lec­ted an ad­di­tion­al 40 sig­na­tures after Mass this past week­end at Moth­er of Di­vine Grace Church and Nativ­ity B.V.M. Church.

She said neigh­bors plan to sub­mit the pe­ti­tion to the Su­preme Court by Feb. 1.

John Wag­n­er, dir­ect­or of pro­ject de­vel­op­ment at CHCS, said that if the Nativ­ity pro­ject were to ma­ter­i­al­ize, units would be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Po­ten­tial res­id­ents would also have to meet cer­tain re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing: must be 62 years of age or older; must be a U.S. cit­izen; must un­der­go a crim­in­al his­tory and cred­it check; must demon­strate house­keep­ing habits and sup­ply ref­er­ences; can­not be a user of il­leg­al drugs; can­not be a re­gistered sex of­fend­er, and must meet in­come eli­gib­il­ity re­quire­ments (see Star story above).

The staff at the of­fice of State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) also has re­ques­ted cop­ies of the pe­ti­tion to cir­cu­late in the of­fice, Cole said.

Lure Salon, 3247 E. Thompson St., also will have cop­ies of the pe­ti­tion.

“Our goal this week is to get it to some seni­or cen­ters,” Cole said. At Moth­er of Di­vine Grace School, she said, stu­dents in the fifth and sixth grades are writ­ing let­ters to the state Su­preme Court in sup­port of the pro­ject.

City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on (D-6th dist.) has ad­vised neigh­bors to write let­ters to the court ur­ging it to hear the case.

“The sixth grade is very pas­sion­ate be­cause we vis­ited St. Anne’s seni­or cen­ter last year as part of com­munity ser­vice,” Cole said. “They un­der­stand and value the im­port­ance of seni­ors need­ing a safe place to live and to so­cial­ize.”

Cole said neigh­bors could also con­tact her at 267-251-0450 for a pa­per copy, as well as her sis­ter, Beth Cole, at 267-240-1186.

There is also a down­load­able copy avail­able at the Face­book page, “Port Rich­mond (Past and Present) for the Trans­form­a­tion of Nativ­ity!

Ad­dress let­ters to the state Su­preme Court to:

Pennsylvania Ju­di­cial Cen­ter
601 Com­mon­wealth Ave., Suite 4500
PO Box 62575
Har­ris­burg, PA 17106-2575

Or, call 717-787-6181.

Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113, or at mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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