Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Karen Heller Needs A Clue

2322739100_1855512d99_b I saw this article tonight and just feel a need to respond. I have been hanging out in Chester since my mom ran day care centers there when I was a wee lad.  I went to high school there.  I made out in Chester Park.  I worked there for nine years.

If I never set foot in Chester again, I have spent more time there than Karen Heller will spend there in her life. 

My guess is that she wandered in for yesterday's press event breaking ground for the new MLS stadium in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge, looked around for a Starbucks, and damn near ran screaming from the area.  My favorite quote in the story demonstrating her complete and total lack of understanding of the City of Chester is this:

Chester, the state's poorest city, is without a supermarket. There's hardly a place to get a decent cup of coffee.

Karen, sweetheart, you're clueless.  There isn't a SINGLE fucking place to get a


decent cup of coffee.  The fast food places closed in the 90s.  Wawa pulled out in '01.  I'm willing to bet you can't find a decent cup of coffee in the corner markets and bodegas.  A few years back I paid $4 bucks for a cup of pretty average coffee at Crozer.  I got a better cup at the gas station today.

Smart guy Rick Eckstein, a Villanova professor who hates public funding for sports stadiums, is quoted.  Note how little he has to say about his first-hand visits to the city.  He compares the economic impact of the stadium to a bodega.  Listen Ricky, Chester has an earned income tax.  The stadium construction itself is going to raise hundreds of thousands of new tax dollars.  This says nothing of the continuing tax benefits of the visitors to the stadium who might then head up 2nd Street to Harrah's.  Or of the potential benefits of further real estate development.

I feel for people like Joan Broadfield, quoted in the story as saying, " ...I don't think it will do what's needed. There's a whole lot more people could do for Chester than a soccer stadium."  She and the rest of the residents of Chester have been mis-treated and ignored by government for so long they can't see this for the potential boon that it is.  Heller pines for Joan to have a grocery store instead of a stadium.

Karen, the grocery stores left because the people can't afford to buy food.  The stadium will bring them the jobs they need to lure the Save-A-Lot back. 

No, this one project won't fix all that is wrong with Chester.  But when you combine it with the recent development at Harrah's, the expansion at Widener, the money Crozer is spending and the rest of the money being poured into the left-for-dead former industrial giant, you begin to see the outlines of revitalization.

Karen, I see how this looks like just another bailout for soccer heads.  But what it really is is the chance for the soccer heads to bail out the folks industry and government has left behind for decades.

Get your head out of the sand.  Buy a ticket.  I'm not even a soccer fan and I sure will.

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