July 15, 2010

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Editor missed point in Scouts’ case

As an Eagle Scout and a former leader in Boy Scouts, I agree with much of what Pete Mazzaccaro wrote in the July 1 Chestnut Hill Local. It is obvious the Boy Scouts must change their national policy regarding inclusion of gay and atheist members. As a leader, I know in the Cradle of Liberty, we had gay Scouts and leaders, but no one cared.

Here is where Mr. Mazzaccaro is wrong. The Scouts built and maintain their building on the Parkway. There has never been one cent of public money that has supported the Scouts in Philadelphia. In fact, the Scouts have probably provided millions in service to the city over the years.

Any reader of the Constitution would have known the city was bound to lose that case. So why did the city insist on litigating a loser that is now going to cost them millions in legal costs and not accomplish the goal of the Scouts leaving the building? The city cannot pick and choose whose speech it approves of and whose it does not.

As a newspaper, the Chestnut Hill Local should understand that better than anyone. All Mayor Nutter did was give comfort to the haters outside Philadelphia who are supporting the Scouts for the wrong reasons. I know the Scouts chose this course as a last resort.

It is agreed that the Cradle of Liberty Council does not discriminate. It is agreed that the Scouts and the city had an agreement regarding this policy, which the Scouts honored and the city chose to turn its back on.

Now the city and the Scouts must find a way to settle this matter once and for all so the Scouts can continue to provide an invaluable service to at-risk youth in Philadelphia, while not being thought of as being the proxies for a discriminatory policy that has no place in today’s society.

Ethan Wright
Chestnut Hill


Faulty crosswalks

I read with interest Adam Garnick’s commentary piece [“Tripped up over faulty crosswalks, “July 8] about the faulty crosswalks we’re experiencing here. Now he knows first hand what it is to try and contact someone or some department, city or state, who’ll take responsibility and respond with a sense of urgency to a definite need.

Our Traffic, Transportation and Parking Committee has experienced this frustration many times over during the past three years (And to be fair, there are some great folks in the city who do make a real effort and understand the meaning of the word “service”).

In any event, Adam has now shared some of our pain, and he and your readers should know we have also been in contact with our key contact and, hopefully, the crosswalk situation will soon be remedied.

Tom Hemphill
Chestnut Hill


Schuylkill Center gardens in jeopardy

The Schuylkill Center Community Garden is Philadelphia’s third largest community garden. With hundreds of gardeners in this space, there are many admirable pursuits:  moms teaching kids about nature, ethnic families growing food from their homelands, community advocates harvesting produce to donate to homebound seniors, and business owners supplying restaurants and farmers markets. 

Gardeners also provide habitat for wildlife with bluebird nesting boxes, native flowers for bees and butterflies, and shallow ponds for amphibians. In sum, the garden is full of diversity and beauty that is at times difficult to see through its maze of fences.    

Earlier this year, a new project was proposed by the city to create a handful of small urban farms on the Manatawna property that surrounds the garden, a project that would go a long way towards putting Philadelphia on the “green city map.” Neighbors have raised opposition to this project, recently proposing a “solution” to their concerns: take away the garden, at least in part, to put in these farms.  

I am baffled as to how those individuals rationalize this suggestion in terms of food justice and general old-fashioned logic. Why take away tremendously productive gardens that feed hundreds of families (it is estimated the garden generates over $400,000 in produce each season) to turn over to a handful of emerging farmers? Especially in light of the fact that there is a hayfield right there that is already in agricultural production, making for a notably easier and more logical transition in land use.  

To be clear, the city staff spearheading the Manatawna project has stated that they are not in favor of taking over the garden. I urge anyone concerned about the well being of community gardens as a whole to note what transpires at the Schuylkill Center Community Garden.  There is certainly room for all these noble and necessary projects (community gardening, urban farming, and wildlife conservation) within the expansive 76 acres at Manatawna Farm.

Jennie Love
Mt. Airy


Pritchard responds to her critics

I have devoted my life to art education. Most of that time has been as a volunteer. Some of that time has been volunteering alongside Barbara Chandler Allen. As stated previously in these pages, I have nothing but respect for her and her achievements.  

In a perfect world, education would address the entire spectrum of human abilities, and the arts would be an integral part of that education and never be subject to being excised from any school. If this were the case, teaching to the test would not be necessary, as we would be supplying a more substantial education to our youth.

Arts education is important for all children, all people. It is so very much more than the extraordinary and beautiful images that come out of art classes. 

Disagree with my opinion on how to fund arts education for all students, but do not doubt my commitment to children and their art and the ability of education in all the arts, for all students, to create strong, creative, thoughtful human beings.

Laura Pritchard


Proud of “our” 4th

Once again, hats off to the hard-working Chestnut Hill Bocce Club – the 4th at the Watertower was a resounding success.

Just about everyone turns out to join in. Those who live in Mt. Airy and “the Hill” and those who moved to other areas still come back for the 4th. It’s like “old home week” wrapped up in one day.

Yes, it’s for the kids, but it gives the adults the opportunity to explain to the young ones what the 4th of July really is and what it really means. I’ll venture to say the 4th at the Watertower will rival any community’s 4th of July celebration anywhere in the U.S.A.

Chestnut Hillers, be proud of the 4th at the Watertower. You have good reason to be!

Tom Woodruff

Some damage the reputations of us all

As we embraced the 4th of July celebrations, it was a good time to reflect on the good fortune we have to live in the United States and the wonderful community of Chestnut Hill.  We are blessed with a “village” that has developed into a charming and gracious area with an abundance of attractive and interesting aspects for the most part.  For the long-term residents there is a real sense of pride. Chestnut Hill remains the envy of many who visit our “neck of the woods”.

It seems incongruous that there is a high number of negative and damaging articles and letters recently that paint a false picture of our community. Most of this originates from a handful of individuals who seem to represent a small minority.

Of course we have just celebrated the anniversary of the greatest democracy on Earth, and all opinions should be heard.  However, it is time the silent majority of Chestnut Hill residents illustrate their displeasure of radical and mean-spirited utterances that bring harm to an otherwise peaceful and happy community.

R. P. Yrigoyen
Chestnut Hill




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