Neighbors of a former state mental hospital in East Falls, targeted as a temporary home for the city's Youth Study Center, will drop their opposition to the move if the city and state guarantee that the land is put to a "more "productive" use when the juvenile detention facility moves to a new and permanent home in West Philadelphia.
Residents of East Falls and North Philadelphia were not among those cheering last year when City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell ended a three-year holdout and introduced legislation allowing the Youth Study Center, which houses juveniles awaiting trial, to move from its home off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to West Philadelphia.
That's because the YSC will have to move for two years to the state-owned former Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Center in East Falls. The Barnes Foundation has signed a 99-year lease with the city for the land the YSC currently occupies. The YSC is supposed to move to East Falls by late summer.
Local Democratic Ward Leader Ralph Wynder said the community wants state legislation guaranteeing that the facility will be resold for redevelopment purposes. "We need something that's more productive to the neighborhood," Wynder said. Wynder, in talks with Mayor Nutter and and State Sen. Vincent Hughes, (D., Phila.), also is looking for a few recreation-related plums in the area that, he said, would keep kids from ending up in the YSC. Wynder said "We look like we're moving in a direction where we may find a resolution."
Nutter on Friday said he has a commitment from Gov. Rendell that the East Falls site will, but supported community efforts to get binding state legislation.