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