Stokes house to be razed for new homes

Twelve new twin homes with a pro­jec­ted base price of $289,000 are planned for con­struc­tion in the Holme Circle area, but some neigh­bors don’t see the value in the pricey res­id­ences. They in­sist that a cen­tur­ies-old stone farm­house is a bet­ter fit for the com­munity.

Dur­ing the monthly meet­ing of the Holme Circle Civic As­so­ci­ation on April 24 at St. Jerome School, de­veloper Charles Cal­vanese told res­id­ents about his com­pany’s plan for 2976 Welsh Road. The site is com­monly known as the “Stokes House” be­cause of the farm­house’s long­time res­id­ent fam­ily. Cal­vanese and busi­ness part­ner John Par­sons bought the prop­erty for $200,000 in Septem­ber 2011 from Samuel “Buzz” Stokes shortly after Stokes, the broth­er-in-law and one-time aide to former state House Speak­er John Perzel, pleaded guilty to crim­in­al charges stem­ming from the at­tor­ney gen­er­al’s “Bo­nus­gate” polit­ic­al cor­rup­tion in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Cal­vanese and Par­sons, through their com­pany Olivia As­so­ci­ates, plan to sub­divide the one-acre lot and build six sets of twins, in­clud­ing three sets along Welsh Road and three along Wal­nut Hill Street. The pro­ject con­forms to ex­ist­ing zon­ing reg­u­la­tions for the prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to Cal­vanese. Work is con­tin­gent upon the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment’s ap­prov­al of the build­ers’ storm­wa­ter man­age­ment plan.

That news was not what some neigh­bors wanted to hear. For months, they’ve been try­ing to per­suade the own­ers to pre­serve the house as a his­tor­ic build­ing. UHCA Pres­id­ent Elsie Stevens, mem­bers of the North­east His­tory Net­work and oth­ers be­lieve that the res­id­ence dates to the 1800s and re­flects the early char­ac­ter of the com­munity be­fore mass de­vel­op­ment. They con­tend that a Civil War of­ficer once lived there, as did oth­er not­able fig­ures. They also be­lieve that the land may con­tain bur­ied ar­ti­facts dat­ing to the 1700s, be­fore the farm­house was built.

Some neigh­bors also fear that the pro­ject will es­cal­ate ex­ist­ing prob­lems for the block, in­clud­ing traffic con­ges­tion and poor wa­ter drain­age. One man in­sisted to Cal­vanese that the block will need big­ger pub­lic wa­ter mains to ac­com­mod­ate the new homes. A wo­man said that nearby streets already are packed with traffic that poses a safety risk to loc­al chil­dren.

The neigh­bor­hood has a mix­ture of res­id­ences in­clud­ing singles, twins and apart­ment build­ings, but twins are the most pre­val­ent vari­ety on the af­fected block and neigh­bor­ing blocks.

Cal­vanese said his com­pany has no in­ten­tion of pre­serving the farm­house in­tact but offered to work with a com­mit­tee of neigh­bors to sal­vage ar­ti­facts from the house or land that might be of his­tor­ic­al in­terest.

On an un­re­lated agenda top­ic, eight polit­ic­al can­did­ates and three aides took part in the civic as­so­ci­ation’s can­did­ates for­um. Demo­crat gubernat­ori­al hope­ful Katie Mc­Ginty high­lighted her North­east Philly roots and her en­vir­on­ment­al work in the ad­min­is­tra­tions of Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton and Gov. Ed Rendell. Mc­Ginty gradu­ated from Re­sur­rec­tion of Our Lord and St. Hubert be­fore earn­ing an un­der­gradu­ate de­gree at St. Joseph’s Uni­versity. She lives in the Wayne area.

Mean­while, Pat Par­kin­son, the Demo­crat­ic lead­er of the 57th Ward, touted Allyson Schwartz for gov­ernor. He re­minded the St. Jerome crowd that Schwartz has served the com­munity in Con­gress for a dec­ade and was a state sen­at­or be­fore that.

The race for Pennsylvania’s 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict seat also took the spot­light, as Dan Lod­ise spoke on be­half of state Rep. Brendan Boyle, while state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Val Arkoosh also ad­dressed the crowd. All three seek the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion. Lod­ise high­lighted Boyle as the only can­did­ate who lives in the North­east. Slightly more than half of the 13th is in the North­east, while the re­mainder is in Mont­gomery County.

An­oth­er con­gres­sion­al hope­ful, re­tired Air Force Col. Beverly Plosa-Bow­ser, re­minded meet­ing-go­ers that she is one of two Re­pub­lic­ans vy­ing for a spot on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. Her primary op­pon­ent, Hunt­ing­don Val­ley pool busi­ness own­er Dee Ad­cock, also ad­dressed the crowd.

Alan Kush­ner spoke on be­half of state Sen. Mike Stack, who is run­ning for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor. Stack has served 13 years in the Sen­ate. He is pro-choice while sup­port­ing the cre­ation of a state health­care ex­change un­der Obama­care, the ex­pan­sion of Medi­caid, stronger gun con­trol, mar­riage equal­ity, uni­on labor and pen­sion se­cur­ity.

State Rep. Ed Neilson is the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee in the spe­cial elec­tion for an at-large City Coun­cil seat. While he is a pro­hib­it­ive fa­vor­ite due to his party’s enorm­ous re­gis­tra­tion ad­vant­age city­wide, he re­minded folks that any re­gistered voter can vote for him in the spe­cial elec­tion, in­clud­ing in­de­pend­ents, al­though voters will be lim­ited to can­did­ates of their own parties in the sim­ul­tan­eous primary. Provid­ing he wins the spe­cial elec­tion, Neilson will have to run again in next year’s primary.

State Rep. John Sabat­ina in­formed the crowd that he is run­ning un­op­posed in the Demo­crat­ic primary for the area’s state House seat. Due to statewide re­dis­trict­ing, Sabat­ina ap­peared destined for a clash with Neilson for a single avail­able seat. But Neilson ac­cep­ted the party’s nom­in­a­tion for the va­cant City Coun­cil seat and is not seek­ing re-elec­tion to the House. ••

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