Chinatown Speaks on Casinos, DiCicco Doesn’t Hear

A packed house at Holy Redeemer Church at 10th and Vine streets tottered on the edge of out of control for over three hours last night. Frank DiCicco, Mike O’Brien, Terry Gillen and Andrew Altman called a meeting with the Chinatown community to apparently introduce representatives from Foxwoods, the casino now proposed to be built at 8th and Market of all places.

Philadelphia neigbhorhoods have been fighting casino development for two years. For two years neither casino would entertain the idea of resiting. Recently Foxwoods agreed against all expectation to discuss resiting and then almost immediately announced the new location would be 8th and Market Streets.

Unfortunately the siting was once again done without public input and without regard to the wishes of the immediate neighborhood. This meeting was the first time DicCicco, O’Brien or representatives from the mayor’s office have met with the neighborhood.

Very disappointing about last night’s meeting was that representatives didn’t meet with residents before bringing the developer and representatives before them and repeatedly ignored pleas for support from neighbors. They stood on the same side of the table with developers and told residents this would be good for their neighborhood and there was nothing they could do and residents should work to mitigate.

I remind those that may not remember that when I met DiCicco two years ago he told us that there was nothing he could do and we should get the best deal possible. Here were are two years later, neither casino is built or even has building permits and Foxwoods is considering resiting. That tells me he was wrong two years ago and it means he’s likely wrong again. Either way it is his responsibility to stand up for his constituency regardless of his own feelings on the matter.

Officials got an earful from residents: neighbors young and old spoke out in English and Chinese passionately against casinos and plead for support from DiCicco. He was a strong advocate for South Philadelphia when Foxwoods was proposed for Columbus and Reed Streets, he seems unwilling to be an advocate for Chinatown: “Vote me out” was his repeated response when residents asked for his support. The question and answer session became one passionate plea for help after another. At one point an activist asked everyone in the room who was here to oppose casinos to stand. In a room of 100 plus people less than 10 remained sitting.

DICicco has pledged to enter CED (Commercial Entertainment District) zoning next week. He has told residents he believes this will revitalize their neighborhoods. His answer when asked for support is “Vote me out.” It is sad that he is not listening to his constituency and instead is standing with the developer on what could be the single largest impacting development on Chinatown and perhaps all of Center City.

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About morgan

Morgan is a freelance IT consultant living in Philadelphia. He lives with his girlfriend in an old house in Fishtown that they may never finish renovating. His focus is enterprise Messaging (think email) and Directory. Many of his customers are education, school districts and Universities. He also gets involved with most aspects of enterprise Linux and UNIX (mostly Solaris) administration, Perl, hopefully Ruby, PHP, some Java and C programming. He holds a romantic attachment to software development though he spends most of his time making software work rather than making software. He rides motorcycles both on and off the track, reads literature with vague thoughts of giving up IT to teach English literature.

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