Both sides in the dispute involving a city-owned building that’s occupied by a local Boy Scouts council have requested an extension of their deadlines to file upcoming briefs in the dispute.
For several years, the city has been trying to evict the BSA Cradle of Liberty Council from a city-owned building on 22nd Street near the Ben Franklin Parkway, because the group won’t pay rent nor accept openly gay participants.
But a federal jury blocked the eviction in July 2010, and the city is appealing that ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Cradle was supposed to file a legal brief in the matter on Dec. 24.
But on Dec. 6, Cradle and the city filed a joint motion requesting that Cradle get a 30-day extension until Jan. 23 to file a legal brief. In the motion, the city also requested a deadline-extension until Feb. 20 to reply to Cradle’s legal brief.
The motion cited holiday-season conflicts as a basis for requesting the extensions.
The motion also requested that Cradle be permitted to exceed the word limit for its brief from 14,000 to 21,000. Similar permission was granted to the city before it filed its opening brief with the court.
At presstime, the court hadn’t ruled on the requests.
Palma Rasmussen, a disability-rights advocate, expressed hope that the court will deny the deadline extensions.
“Every day this case drags on, discrimination continues to be subsidized by taxpayers,” she said. “Where’s the sense of urgency? Justice delayed is justice denied. There should be no discrimination in a public facility, end of story.”
Church temporarily spared from wrecker’s ball
An 11th-hour appeal to spare an old Catholic church from the wrecker’s ball was granted this week by a city review board.
Demolition of the Church of the Assumption, which was formerly owned by the AIDS agency Siloam, was scheduled to begin Dec. 11.
But on the same day, the city’s Board of License and Inspection Review voted 5-0 to block the demolition, pending a follow-up hearing scheduled for next month.
The Gothic-style church is located at 1133 Spring Garden St.
Built in 1849, it has ties to two local saints, Katharine Drexel and John Neumann, and is on the city’s Register of Historic Places.
But in October, Common Pleas Judge Idee C. Fox cleared the way for its demolition, ruling that it would be a hardship for Siloam to maintain the dilapidated structure. Three months prior, Siloam sold the property to MJ Central Investment LP.
The Callowhill Neighborhood Association, which opposes the demolition, hopes a new buyer can be found.
“This is a wonderful Philadelphia landmark, a very historic church,” said Samuel C. Stretton, an attorney for the CNA. “It enriches the Philadelphia community by its existence. It should not be torn down unless and until there’s a full and complete hearing on all the issues. It’s my position that once that hearing is held, it will never be torn down.”
John Wei, of MJ Central Investment, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Siloam continues to provide HIV/AIDS services in an old rectory next to the church while it searches for a new location.
CNA’s request to block the demolition remains pending in state Commonwealth Court.
The Board of License and Inspection Review will revisit the matter at 1:15 p.m. Jan. 8 at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor.
— Timothy Cwiek
Remembering the homeless
Join an array of local organizations from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Dec. 19 as they remember Philadelphians who are homeless or formerly homeless.
ACT UP, Broad Street Ministry, the Philadelphia chapter of NAACP and several other organizations will recognize Homeless Memorial Day at Thomas Paine Plaza, 1401 JFK Blvd.
For more information, contact Jennie Young at 215-232-7272 ext. 3106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Theater gives back
People’s Light & Theatre in Malvern will expand its outreach to local charities this holiday season.
Funds raised from performances of “Aladdin: A Musical Panto” and “This Wonderful Life” will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Chester County Food Bank, Home of the Sparrow and the regional chapter of the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. For the past decade, the company has supported Broadway Cares through its Panto series and this year wanted to add to the cause.
“People’s Light is deeply rooted in the local community and welcomes opportunities to partner with charities that are providing such important services,” said artistic director Abigail Adams.
For more information, visit www.peopleslight.org.
— Angela Thomas