Opponents of Mermaid Lane complex are heavy-hitters

by Len Lear
Posted 8/12/21

The couple moved to Chestnut Hill in 2003. “We love Chestnut Hill,” said Greg Lattanzi. “We fell in love with the community, the people and the culture of this historic slice of Philadelphia.”

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Opponents of Mermaid Lane complex are heavy-hitters

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Greg Lattanzi, 52, and Haviva Goldman (“well loved” in Hebrew), 49, who have been in the local news lately for their opposition to the proposed 250-unit apartment complex at 100-102 E. Mermaid Lane, former home of United Cerebral Palsy and the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House, bring serious credentials to their position.

The husband-and-wife pair, members of East Mermaid Lane Neighbors, both have doctorate degrees in anthropology, she from City University of New York, where they met as students, and he from Temple University. A recognized expert in historic preservation, Greg is Curator/State Archaeologist for the Bureau of Archaeology & Ethnography at the NJ State Museum in Trenton. (Every state has a state archaeologist.). Greg got the job in Trenton in September, 2001.

Goldman is a full professor and vice chair of medical education in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine. She is also affiliated with the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the College of Engineering. Dr. Goldman teaches Gross Anatomy and Microanatomy to first-year medical students. She started at Drexel in 2002 .

“I want to make it clear,” said Lattanzi, who recently won a three-year term on the Chestnut Hill Community Association board, “that we are definitely not against all development. When we moved here, we knew development could happen. We certainly understand that, and we want to work with the developer so that the project fits in with Chestnut Hill. With my background, I have had developers come up with an alternative compromise and ways to keep both sides happy. We have not seen that yet in this case. The original plan would cause excessive runoff and excessive traffic.”

“The proposal still on the table is close to the original form,” added Goldman.”The original permit for demolition of the Meetinghouse is still in place. The density of the development and the enormity of it is too much for the location.”

When the couple first came to Philadelphia from Manhattan, they rented in East Falls and then moved to Chestnut Hill in 2003. “We love Chestnut Hill,” said Greg. “We fell in love with the community, the people and the culture of this historic slice of Philadelphia.”

“You're still in a big city but with so much more space and trees,” added Haviva. “I enjoy hearing a woodpecker and wood chimes.” 

Lattanzi has done archaeology in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. He has also done excavation work at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia, where they uncovered a blacksmith house. There are many pre-historical sites in NJ and PA. According to Lattanzi, a 10,000-year-old site was recently excavated by PhD students.

Prehistoric Native American site types in New Jersey include large and small residential settlements, cemetery and other mortuary sites, trails, stone quarries and a wide variety of special purpose locations where specific food and non-food resources were collected and/or processed. Some sites were occupied for thousands of years, while others were used for only a limited period.

Lattanzi and Goldman, both Long Island natives, will have been married for 25 years this October. They have two children — Denis, 16, a Central High student, and Anna Lena, 12, an AIM Academy student. Both went to Jenks Academy in Chestnut Hill. In fact, Haviva is a founding member of the Friends of J.S. Jenks and is still involved with Jenks, even though her children no longer go there.

When asked about Jenks students' low standardized test scores (you can find them by Googling), Haviva said, “Those scores can't tell you how good the school is. Jenks is a strong school, but there are constant fights with the State Legislature over school budget cuts. We loved it there, and I am still in touch with the principal. I was on the CHCA board for six years as a representative of Jenks. The community association is an important part of the neighborhood, and it is a good sign that so many people wanted to get involved by running for the board.”

To reach Len Lear, email lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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