Northeast Times

Gibbons PAL Center looks for a new home

The Gib­bons PAL Cen­ter on the 6900 block of Rising Sun Av­en­ue has op­er­ated out of Trin­ity Church Ox­ford’s par­ish house since 1969.

This is one of those good news-bad news stor­ies.

The bad news is that the Gib­bons PAL Cen­ter on the 6900 block of Rising Sun Av­en­ue is look­ing for a new home. The good news is that PAL might have some time to find a new loc­a­tion for the cen­ter and the 2,500 kids it serves. 

Gib­bons has op­er­ated out of Trin­ity Church Ox­ford’s par­ish house since 1969 — more than 45 years, Lt. Wil­li­am Ed­dis, PAL com­mand­er, said June 2. The more than 300-year-old Epis­co­pali­an church wants to de­vel­op its prop­erty at 6901 Rising Sun, the lieu­ten­ant said, so PAL will have to leave the build­ing that it now uses. Not now, but not too much later.

All a shame, Ed­dis said. “We like it there, and the com­munity liked it there,” he said June 2.

The lieu­ten­ant said he be­lieves the church’s de­vel­op­ment plans have slowed, so there’s now a pro­pos­al to ex­tend PAL’s lease to June 30, 2015. At­tempts to con­tact the church’s pas­tor were un­suc­cess­ful.

PAL’s clos­ing has been a neigh­bor­hood top­ic since it was an­nounced last year.

Cindy Am­brose thought Gib­bons was clos­ing this month and that the June 3 soft­ball game at the field would be her 7-year-old grand­daugh­ter Madis­on’s last for PAL, and she was glad to hear that might not be so. 

That leaves the big ques­tion of where the PAL cen­ter will be next sum­mer? 

Does any­body out there know of a good space PAL can use not too far from the 6900 block of Rising Sun?

The lieu­ten­ant said there are three ba­sic re­quire­ments for a PAL cen­ter: a bas­ket­ball court, prefer­ably with a high ceil­ing; rooms to set up a home­work pro­gram and for an of­fice for the of­ficer who su­per­vises the cen­ter; and bath­rooms on the same floor as the court and those oth­er rooms. 

Gib­bons’ cur­rent loc­a­tion has an ex­tra — a small field between the church, which is off Ox­ford Av­en­ue, and its two oth­er build­ings. But the lieu­ten­ant said no field is not a deal-break­er.

Not many PAL cen­ters have fields, he said.

Gib­bons PAL has been a neigh­bor­hood fix­ture, and the cop who keeps it op­er­at­ing has been there for more than two dec­ades. Of­ficer An­thony D’Aulerio, who’s run Gib­bons for 22 years, has seen some of the people who came to the cen­ter as chil­dren bring their own kids in to sign up for soft­ball, soc­cer, golf, girls gym­nastics and oth­er pro­grams.

He said he hopes a new loc­a­tion can be found in the same neigh­bor­hood, but a little to the north would be bet­ter than a little to the south, an area that feeds in­to a new PAL cen­ter that op­er­ates out of the Glad­ing Me­mori­al Pres­by­teri­an Church in Ox­ford Circle.

PAL also has been look­ing for more than a year for a home for its Frank­ford cen­ter, which closed in late 2012 be­cause the city-owned build­ing it oc­cu­pied was in bad shape. Any­one with a loc­a­tion to sug­gest for either cen­ter should con­tact Lt. Wil­li­am Ed­dis at 215-291-9000, Ext. 116. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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