PHA discusses project delays, Potter’s Field survey at meeting in Germantown

Three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Housing Authority cancelled all public meetings regarding its proposed development on a plot of land which once housed a historic Potter’s Field burial site in Germantown.

Radio silence has ended, though.

On Thursday night, the agency invites residents to meet at Mt. Moriah Church, where the agenda includes new information which surfaced after a ground-penetrating radar survey of the land at W. Queen Lane and Pulaski Avenue. (Update: NewsWorks will have a report from the meeting Friday morning).

Federal and historical reviews ongoing

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) have been reviewing those survey results since June 11.

While PHA has not yet received word from those agencies, Michael Johns, general manager of community development and design, said new information from the PHA-hired archeology team will be publicly discussed tonight.

PHA also plans to address neighborhood concerns about maintenance of the fenced-in playground behind the Queen Lane Apartments, and share details about where PHA is in the zoning process for the demolition and new construction.

“Although we don’t yet have official permission from HUD, we’re setting things up,” said Johns, who is confident that demolition will move forward, the Potter’s Field will be protected and the new homes will be built. The federal office has final say in any PHA projects.

Persistent delays

Officials said they do not expect any additional delays resulting from the June resignation of executive director Michael P. Kelly. As things stand, demolition and plans to construct 55 low-income rental housing units for PHA residents are five months behind schedule.

Former PHA tenants have been relocated; the agency said it will start a waiting list six months prior to the project completion for applications to move into the new homes.

“We can’t give a proposed date of demolition, but we’ll have a schedule of our process,” he said of tonight’s meeting.

Responding to community concerns about delays and relocation, Johns blamed a complicated, multi-agency process.

“We’re in a waiting period, just like the public,” added PHA spokeswoman Nicole Tillman, who noted that PHA will check on the PHMC review status before the meeting.

The public is invited to attend the 6 p.m. meeting at Mt. Moriah Church, 5333 Pulaski Ave.

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