Last week was busy and draining. Monday I attended a NABR meeting, Thursday I attended my first Fishtown Neighborhood Association (FNA) meeting. I found out a lot of interesting information on the casino front.
PennPraxis has launched a new Plan Philly (planphilly.com) web site. Their first and current project is to plan the central Delaware Riverfront. They have called a series of public meetings to get input from the community. The casino comes up prominently at each meeting.
Penn Praxis continues to erroneously refer to the casinos as a done deal. They are responsible in mission for listening to the neighborhoods but they repeatedly ignore the people’s input. PennPraxis should address the casino issue head on. That’s what the neighborhoods want. They should put together two plans: one with casinos and one without.
Vern Anastasio spoke at the NABR meeting about the ill-conceived proposed Special Services Districts. The purpose is to provide “clean and green,” basically improve neighborhoods by cleaning up trash, planting trees, etc. This is incredibly short sighted. These are services that should be provided by the city. Neighborhoods should ask city hall for these services, not a commercial developer. The money will be spent to clean up the mess the casinos create, it will not be spent to better our neighborhoods.
Ultimately we will become addicted to the revenue. We won’t be able to clean up our neighborhoods without the crutch of tax revenue from casinos. Philadelphia needs to think bigger picture. Philadelphia can create real incentives for business, draw business and ultimately draw tax revenue from a thriving business community.
Last week’s FNA meeting showed that Fishtown is is changing. New residents and long term residents alike clearly came out against casinos. A stand hasn’t been taken by the group but the groundwork has been laid. The Fishtown Neighborhood Association (FNA) is officially agnostic on casinos. Northern Liberties, Old City, Society Hill, Pennsport and Passyunk have all taken an anti-casino stance. This is troubling because without a firm stand they can’t negotiate.