Contentious meeting over proposed move of SVU

June 14, 2011 8:34:03 PM PDT
It was a night of community opposition to a plan to move SVU to East Falls.

The proposal would see the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit move from its current headquarters in West Kensington to a building yet to be built on Scotts Lane.

"This is a building that's designed primarily for the victim and the people that help process the victims through the process," Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison said.

On Tuesday night, Gillison tried to paint a picture for a room full of East Falls residents on why the city was trying to move SVU, the Department of Human Services, and others to the new $7-million, 37,000 square foot facility to be built at 3449 Scotts Lane.

The site sits across from the McDevitt Recreation Center as well as a number of educational facilities nearby.

City Council has already approved a first reading of the measure introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones at the request of the Nutter administration. Another vote is set for Thursday.

"If I end up not acting on this within a certain time frame, I will have to renew a lease and spend more of the city's money," Gillison said.

While some residents seem to agree that trying to help crime victims is a noble cause, they felt the location is a bad idea.

"The location of this is going to cause traffic problems for this area," one female resident said.

"Nobody wants it here, nobody wants it here," a man yelled during the meeting.

Some seemed convinced the city has already made up its mind to go ahead with the project regardless.

"You're having a meeting, you already made up your mind so why are we here?" a woman asked.

Some even chanted, "We don't want it. We don't want it."

One man stormed off in a huff, but later returned pointing an umbrella at the Deputy Mayor promising to do everything to stop it.

The Deputy Mayor acknowledged the city did not do a good job in communicating.

"Obviously, we did not communicate this well to the community at all; we did not involve them," Gillison said.

Councilman Curtis Jones was unable to attend because his father is very ill. However, his Chief of Staff Al Spivey told the crowd the councilman will likely ask that Thursday's vote be put on hold while he has a chance to absorb residents' opposition to the proposed measure.