Scoring negative points

Weeks after the athletic super site opened, the community has a list of concerns several organizations are working to address.

By Caitlin Meals
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Oct. 2, 2008

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School District of Philadelphia officials, including Director of Athletics Robert Coleman, left, listened to the list of grievances concerning the South Philadelphia super site from residents at last week's SPCCA board meeting. (Staff Photo By Greg Bezanis)

For the community surrounding the South Philadelphia super site, "super" may be the last word they'd choose to describe the $7 to $8 million state-of-the-art facility.

At last Wednesday's board meeting of the South Philadelphia Communities Civic Association (SPCCA), dozens packed into the organization's office on the complex site with a list of grievances, among them buses dropping off and picking up teams on Bigler Street; buses parking on Bigler; loitering and antagonistic fans; blatant drug use; and ineffective school security.

For Joann McAfee, the problem lies within the facility. Specifically, the School District of Philadelphia's policy as property owners to charge $2,000 per use of the field.

"I was a little upset," McAfee, administrator of the Southeast Youth Athletic Association (SEYAA) at Seventh and Bigler streets, said.

McAfee's daughter, Nicole, a freshman, and son Billy, a senior, play soccer at Neumann-Goretti High School, 10th and Moore streets. The boys' team plays at 26th and Moore streets, behind the former Neumann building, but the girls were left without a place to go this year when their home field at Palumbo Playground, 10th and Fitzwater streets, was torn up for reconstruction.

"For the school district to say [Neumann-Goretti has] to pay $2,000 when there's a field in their own neighborhood where the school is six blocks away, that bothered me," McAfee, of 12th and Wolf streets, said. "My question was, 'Why wouldn't you let them do it [at no cost]? It's a local Catholic school.' They said, 'Because we have to maintain the field.' When you have artificial turf, you don't have to maintain it like grass."

McAfee took matters into her own hands and let the girls' soccer team use the field at SEYAA, where its five home games will be played.

District spokesman Vincent Thompson was not able to comment regarding district policy on facility use for outside groups at press time due to the district being closed for the holiday.

"The School District of Philadelphia continues to have a strong working relationship with community leaders in South Philadelphia," Thompson said earlier this week. "That community partnership resulted in the construction of the South Philadelphia super site. Any complaints from residents we will look into and try to find a way to reach a consensus with the community."

Neumann-Goretti Athletic Director Chip Reitano said, while the school's football team is using the field for its three home games, he was unsure of the price tag.

"We're kind of in negotiations," he said. "We are going to be charged to use that facility, but right now we haven't been billed."

Although it's a goal of his for the soccer teams as well as the school's lacrosse teams to play there, it won't be happening just yet.

"My understanding was it costs $1,500 for lacrosse and soccer when I inquired about the future as far as [our teams]. That's kind of steep, especially because those teams play at 3:30 in the afternoon. Most parents are working, there's other sports going on and the fan base for lacrosse and soccer is not as big," he said. "It's a work in progress. I think that's something everybody needs to understand. It's new; we need to get the kinks out."

SPCCA President Tony Greco said, while he understands residents' concerns living in the site's surrounding area of 10th to 11th streets and Bigler to Packer Avenue, the complex only has been open since Aug. 29, the inaugural football game between Bok and Southern high schools, and his group is working hard to address all of the issues.

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Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. Jim DiFalco said... on Oct 2, 2008 at 11:44AM

“Let the Kid's Play ”

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2. Joe Sanborn said... on Oct 2, 2008 at 06:24PM

“The parents that send their kids to Catholic schools pay taxes too! The whole idea of having the local school pay that kind of money is absolutely wrong. The person or person's that made that decision, can go to hell!”

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3. Antonella Cahill said... on Oct 3, 2008 at 03:55AM

“I have two kids in catholic about taking my "school tax" that I pay every year and put it toward a field that my daughter will be playing at!”

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4. al. mitchell said... on Oct 4, 2008 at 10:28AM

“My taxes help pay for the field. Now I am being taxed again to have my child play on the field i.e. $2000 to play there. Once more non-public schools are punished. Its time to demonatrate for are rights. Lets unite.”

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5. Mari said... on Nov 5, 2008 at 04:53PM

“Seriously, $2000 per use?! That isn't fair for Neumann. HAVE SOME MERCY AND LET THEM PLAY. btw, is the track open for local residents?”

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6. Footballmom said... on Nov 8, 2008 at 07:05AM

“Oh please, every bodies taxes helped pay for the field. How are the non-public schools being punished?!? When the non public teams play on any field the have they nerve to charge you $16.00 and up, to watch your children play. That is a disgrace. I didn't here anyone complaining to play there for free when that field was a dump, with so much dog fieces you had to tip toe to avoid walking in it (that includes the outside of it!) And as far as you other neighbors complaining, get a life and learn to tell the truth. I have been at events at that field many times and have never seen out right drug use. And as far as the away team buses hmm i always see them in the parking lot. There are always people out there trying to make things in this city that are good for these kids a problem. And if you want to jog so bad go jog around the block a few times, if not you should have to pay a fee to use it just like we pay a fee to sit there and watch the games!! What's the matter with you people? Your kids had fields to play at last year but NOW all of a sudden you feel you NEED to play at this beautiful new site, do you think you are better then everyone else? Didn't see you all complain to play there when it was a dump (no thanks to the neighbors). Stop complaining everyone has to pay to play there, yes even the public schools are charged a fee to get it. This is a wonderful place for our children to enjoy, don't ruin it for them like you do everything else. And to the person who complained about it being a place for African Americans, excuse me but this is for EVERYONE!!!”

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7. insider said... on Nov 9, 2008 at 08:24AM

“Whoa there Joe you just condemed the whole Catholic league to hell. As an insider the reason the catholic schools are charged that much money is to help pay off the refs to assure the catholic teams a win. So if you want to continue to keep the catholic teams numero uno i would try to keep a lid on the complaining.”

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8. bob said... on Nov 15, 2008 at 02:16PM

“Please turn down (off) the PA system This is (was) a residential neighboorhood Also, turn off the very brightlights when you leave so people can get some sleep b”


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