May 2: Temple nixes new boathouse | Homestead bills in the works | Tax abatement study fuels debate | Gaming Control Board in Phila next week | Delaware named #1 for bike friendliness in N. East

The Inquirer reports that Temple University withdrew its proposal to build a new Schuylkill River boathouse after the proposal was criticized because it did not provide the replacement parkland required by the Open Lands Protection Ordinance, enacted in 2011. Temple is “carefully exploring” an alternative option, which includes renovating its former rowing home, the now blighted East Park Canoe House. The university has not committed to that option though. The East Park Canoe House is less than half the size of the formerly proposed new construction, which would have been 23,000 square feet. 

A City Council committee passed two homestead bills yesterday, the Inquirer reported. If passed by full Council, one will extend the July 31 deadline to apply for the homestead exemption property tax deduction to Sept. 13. The City hopes the majority of the estimated 340,000 homeowners eligible for the exemption will apply and that the deadline extension allows more to do so. The second bill will allow people who buy homes within 30 days of the Sept. 13 deadline to apply for the exemption as well. 

A study supporting Philadelphia’s new-construction tax abatement policy is fueling debate over whether tax abatement spurred Center City construction or deprived the school district of millions, NewsWorks reports. The study finds that the abatement led to a construction boom and has generated plenty of revenue, but there is talk in City Council of cutting back on the abatement, which some feel favors the wealthy but leaves the school district high and dry. 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is coming to town next week for three days of hearings on Philadelphia’s casino development and expansion plans. On Tuesday the board will hear SugarHouse’s revamped plans for expansion, including a seven-story parking garage with ground floor VIP lounges, a poker room and two new restaurants. On Wednesday and Friday, the board will hear each of the six proposals competing for the city’s second casino license. PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gate has details and public comment protocol

The League of American Bicyclist named Delaware the #1 most bicycle friendly state in the Northeast and 5th most bike friendly state in the nation. The league’s Bicycle Friendly State Program just released its 2013 bicycle friendly report cards. The ranking system put Delaware above New Jersey (ranked 7th most bike friendly in the nation) and Pennsylvania (ranked 15th in the nation). NewsWorks reports that Bike Delaware attributes the state’s quick climb up the national ranks to large state and federal investments. 

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