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Philadelphia City Council to Consider Blocking Mayor Parker’s Fairmount Yard Project

Philadelphia City Council to consider legislation which aims to effectively block Mayor Cherelle L. Parker’s administration from operating a substance abuse services facility in Fairmount.

Some lawmakers and residents were blindsided to learn last week, in an Inquirer report, that the administration had quietly opened a shelter for addicts at 2100 W. Girard Avenue.

Sources said the facility had been described as a triage center — one of several centers the Parker administration has proposed borrowing $100 million to build across the city. Officials later called it a “wellness center” and then described it as an extension of existing city services, such as a homeless shelter operating on the closed Fairmount campus.

Jeffery Young Jr., whose district includes the planned Fairmount site, introduced a bill Thursday to stop those projects. He said the administration has not informed him of any plans to repurpose or expand public and city-run facilities in his district. He said his bill would prohibit the Department of Public Property from renewing or entering into a new lease agreement for the building.

But Young said he has not yet submitted the proposal to city attorneys to see if this action falls within the Council’s jurisdiction.

“If the city council has the authority to authorize leases, I think we also have the authority to prohibit leases,” Young said. “As a lawyer myself…I believe this is something we can do.” »

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bill. Young said he would not oppose the installation after enough feedback.

“I’m absolutely open to discussions, but there hasn’t been a discussion yet,” Young said.

What was the highlight of this week?

Council member Quetcy Lozada said she was unhappy with criticism of the cleanup of the Kensington encampment Wednesday.

The scene did not go as expected on Kensington Avenue Wednesday morning, where outreach officers arrived to find that the area had already been cleared and officers had already moved people to nearby streets.

But Lozada, a Democrat whose district includes the region, took issue with what she sees as critics’ “false” emphasis on logistical mishaps.

“Yes, people weren’t there when the service providers arrived,” Lozada said, through tears, in the council chambers, “but that doesn’t mean they didn’t receive services. “

City outreach workers helped place 59 people in housing, detox or treatment programs during the month-long outreach effort that led to the camp’s closure. City officials said 19 of those people were connected to services on Wednesday.

What else happened this week?

Council Member Anthony Phillips introduced a bill that would prohibit most businesses along business corridors in West Oak Lane and parts of Mount Airy from operating after midnight.

Phillips represents the 9th District — which is largely made up of black, middle-class homeowners — where Parker served before becoming mayor.

In recent years, he said, smoke shops, slot machines and 24-hour convenience stores have popped up in his otherwise quiet neighborhood.

“Residents in our district were concerned about businesses that are only open until the wee hours of the night,” Phillips said. “The residents of the ninth arrondissement want serenity, cleanliness and they just want an oasis of joy in their neighborhood.”

Phillips said the bill as introduced narrowly targets a few corridors where complaints have been filed, but he views it as a test run for a midnight curfew for those businesses throughout the 9th District .

There are a few exceptions written into the bill, he said, essentially exempting restaurant or liquor license holders.

“A bar could still be open and we have a McDonald’s that can also stay open because they have a drive-thru,” Phillips said.

The new bill is modeled after similar legislation introduced by Councilman Quetcy Lozada earlier this year, which ordered many Kensington businesses to close by midnight.

Although Phillips’ neighborhood doesn’t have much in common with Lozada’s corner of Kensington, he said it’s inspiring to see a colleague take aggressive action.

“When I saw Councilwoman Lozada’s bill, I was excited that she was trying to take a stand on public nuisances in the city,” Phillips said. “As a result of that, I said, what can we do?