A vacant West Philadelphia lot is being prepared for the relocation of the city's only secure youth detention facility - but the elementary school across the street is so unhappy about the move that it also intends to relocate, according to the school's chief administrative officer.
The city's Youth Study Center, located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is expected to move to 48th and Haverford streets in the spring of 2010, according to James Randolph, deputy commissioner of juvenile justice in the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.
The center houses juveniles charged with delinquent acts while they await court hearings.Its move has elicited outcry from some neighbors.
"Elementary schools should not be across the street from a youth detention center. It sends a bad message," said Stacy Phillips, head of the West Philadelphia Achievement Charter School, located near the future Youth Study Center site.
"I'm sure they could have found a better spot than right here in the heart of West Philadelphia," she said.
The school will move "sometime in the next three years" to another location in West Philadelphia, Phillips said.
The Youth Study Center is moving because the Barnes Foundation - an art museum known for its collection of Impressionist paintings - is slated to move to the detention facility's Parkway site and construct its new building there.
Before construction of the new Youth Study Center can begin, the city's zoning board must review any last objections to the move and give the relocation plan final approval.
The board will decide before the end of the month, according to Randolph, who said he is "very optimistic" the board will approve the plan.
"We've done some community meetings in the past, and we haven't heard any negative feedback at all," he said.
But Phillips contends that the city gave her school no say in the plan.
"They didn't inform the community, didn't post any signs, the parents didn't know anything about it," she said.
City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, whose district includes Penn and the new Youth Study Center site, at first fought the relocation but later dropped her opposition. She did not return repeated calls for comment.
Jim Jordan, who lives on 55th Street just a few blocks away from the relocation site, said he thinks the move is "not a bad idea."
"It won't hurt anyone," he said. "Nobody ever escaped from the old one."
Most juveniles only stay eight or nine days in the center, which offers them schooling, recreational opportunities and visitation with parents, according to Randolph.
Between now and 2010, the Youth Study Center will be temporarily located at the former Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Northwest Philadelphia.Comments powered by Disqus
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