Prisons Commissioner gives updates on plans to rebuild on State Road

The prison system shouldn’t be the third-largest department in a city as sophisticated as Philadelphia, Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla told the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association last night.

And that’s one of the reasons why Giorla attended the group’s January meeting — to update residents on what’s happening at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and Holmesburg Prison.

UHCA Zoning matters

Last night’s three zoning issues all involved auto-related businesses. Two were approved, while residents are seeking to shut down the third.

APPROVED:

Variances were approved for five units at 8701 Torresdale Ave.

-2 auto repair shops

-2 auto detailers

-1 towing company

A variance was also approved for 4800 Wingate St. to allow the owner to fix and upgrade a roof, host private parking for five cars and install a spray booth for cars.

SEEKING ACTION

Residents signed a petition to L&I seeking action for the property at 8200 Torresdale Ave. The person renting the property is operating illegally, and is spreading paint fumes from his auto shop into the neighborhood.

Giorla announced plans to keep costs down, including looking into using GPS devices to track some released prisoners. In the meantime, he said, Curran-Fromhold is down to 8,700 inmates, compared to 9,400 last year. Which means fewer dollars are going to supporting inmates, each of which costs $30,000 per year, on average.

Part of the cost-cutting tactics include more energy-efficient facilities, which would replace the current Curran-Fromhold buildings that are in disrepair.

“There is no timeline at this point,” Giorla said of plans to temporarily house displaced inmates at Holmesburg Prison. But he assured residents that once the renovations on State Road are complete, all inmates will be removed from the Holmesburg facility, leaving the city to repurpose the property for something more beneficial to the community.

“We’re serious about making the city safer,” Giorla said, and offered residents the chance to tour the Curran-Fromhold complex any time.

Also at the meeting…The UHCA board held elections for its executive board and officers. The nearly 30 residents in attendance voted to re-elect the same officials.

In the video below, Giorla explains plans for the rebuilding of Curran-Fromhold.

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