My Hoot for this week is a story by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker about the former Mid-City YMCA annex, and how it has become an eyesore and a toxic place for students at a charter school and the surrounding neighborhood.
This story was interesting to me for a couple of reasons. One, 20th and Chestnut is one of Philadelphia’s nicer neighborhoods and I’m surprised that the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has been allowed to leave this building in this shape for this long. I also thought the story was interesting because of what is connected to this building, the Freire Charter School. I thought about the kids and how crazy it is that they are exposed to rats and mold.
It was a well reported story that you could tell the reporters spent a lot of time gathering information for. The entire mid-section of the story is filled with the kind of information that I would really want to know if I were the parent of a student at Freire.
The best of these details was the information that the reporters got from Bill Cullen, the owner/operator of Mr. Cleanouts, the organization that won the RDA contract to clean out the Annex. He said that he hadn’t been told of the potential environmental hazards contained in the rat infested and mold covered building. He also said that he hadn’t seen any carcasses and asbestos. While had been told to wear a hazmat suit, Cullen decided not to and said to the reporters: “I was happy to make money. I’m a family man, I did what I had to do.”
– Denise Clay