We need the land-bank proposal under consideration by City Council because garden groups, farmers, and open-space advocates have no viable path to purchase the privately owned, debt-burdened parcels they have stewarded for years ("Land bank can reduce blight," Dec. 2). Without a land bank, deeply rooted community spaces like the Central Club, Sloan Street, and St. Bernard gardens unnecessarily face a sheriff's sale every year without an alternant pathway to permanence.
Beyond that, the status quo is too unpredictable. One garden moves through the city's vacant-property review process in three weeks, while another has to wait six months, and a third waits more than two years for ownership to be consolidated and title cleared.
We need a land bank to make sense of all this, to provide a strategic plan and policies that account for the range of land use in the city. We need timely and affordable mechanisms to put abandoned parcels directly into the hands of residents, community development corporations, and for-profit developers. That could help us take a leap forward in community economic development, environmental justice, food justice, disability rights, and affordable and accessible housing.
Amy Laura Cahn, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Thankful years ago
Peter A. Lillback is welcome to his revisionist history ("Roots of Thanksgiving," Nov. 27). Of course, every group in the world gives thanks for something, and organized thanksgiving dates back far longer than 500 years - before even Christians could argue that there was only one version of truth, inasmuch as there were no Christians back then. At the very least, Hanukkah - celebrated this year at the same time as our national holiday - gives thanks for events that happened more than 2,000 years ago. However, our American holiday has a well-defined origin in time. My one question for Christian dominionists: What were the Indians celebrating, and to whom were they giving thanks?
Kenneth Gorelick, M.D., Newtown Square
Transportation always has been a basic government responsibility, and needs to be. So, kudos to Gov. Corbett and legislators for the courage to pass a transportation-funding bill. Long overdue, it was necessary to keep Pennsylvania on the road to economic recovery. Perhaps folks whining about only paying for facilities and services they use, in effect, should game the system - by taking public transit or buying a bicycle.
Joseph R. Syrnick, Schuylkill River Development Corp., Philadelphia
Park route, not I-95
As a volunteer guide in Fairmount Park for more than 35 years, I take exception to the recent claim that Kelly Drive suffers from "faulty and deficient highway engineering" ("No fix for Kelly," Nov. 25). The road was laid out to be a leisurely journey through Fairmount Park along the Schuylkill in a horse-and-carriage era. It is not a highway, but a scenic road. Also, being a survivor of an accident on Kelly Drive, I know for a fact that speed is the issue - wet roads and speed result in collisions. With all the curves in the road, a 35 m.p.h. limit is a must. All drivers need to understand that others have a right to a safe trip on a road that was never designed to be a major artery.
Mary Mason, Phoenixville
Safety sealed in
While the New Jersey Pinelands Commission debates the merits of the proposed 22-mile natural-gas pipeline designed to ensure post-Sandy regional energy reliability, on one count there is no debate: The Pinelands pipeline will be the safest such pipeline constructed in the nation, with its proposed design exceeding the highest required standards set under the federal safety guidelines in several very important areas.