The Philadelphia Housing Authority has plans for demolition and redevelopment for the 301 West Queen Lane high rises. Community members of the Northwest Neighbors of Germantown (NWNG) met with PHA on several occasions since October 20, 2011 in a battle to honor remains from one of the oldest burial grounds in the nation, the, Germantown Potter’s Field where African-American slaves, ex-slaves, and black babies were buried since 1755.
PHA conducted a meeting on January 5, 2012 at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church with Philadelphia Housing Authority’s, Director of Development, Michael Johns who headed the meeting. Michael Johns stated that he thought we (PHA) had a good plan until the community let us know that we have been disturbing hallowed grounds for over fifty years and to build fifty-five (55) renter units on a quarter of Potter’s Field will still dishonor the deceased ancestors of African –Americans.
The homeowners surrounding the Queen Lane Projects and Yvonne Haskins Esq. representing NWNG were surprised that PHA announced that they will not build on top of Potter’s Field. When the Queen Lane High rise was constructed in 1955, Pulaskitown residents witnessed the disrespect of scattering bones, shattered tombstones, bodies found in homeowners basements and children fallen into the unsecured manholes full of body parts.
PHA plans to implode the building in March 2012, but has not provided information of any safe means that will prevent damages to a three hundred (300) year old underground infrastructure of gas lines, plumbing lines, sewage piping, residential and church building foundations, air quality and of course, the remains of Potter’s Field. Additionally, there is no information with regards to Philadelphia Housing Finance Agency to determine the approval of a 4 percent tax credit that will be used to cover expenses of the demolition and redevelopment.
Some community homeowners were agitated and made argumentative statements that they are more concerned with their own homes, rats from the Queen Lane Tower coming out and not in particular the remains. These homeowners demanded that PHA needs to present all these promises in writing.
According to Eugene Glenn Stackhouse’s the Potter’s Field expert states in his written excerpt that in 1920 the ancestors and the Trustees of Pulaskitown requested a playground to be provided and the land never to be sold. At the end of Donna Reed Miller’s term, the $176, 000 Kelly Playground near the project was sold to PHA for a $1.00 quit deed exchange on August 18, 2011. Neighbors were outraged that the children in the community will not have a place to play. With the result of this, Councilperson Donna Reed Miller showed up unexpected at the January 5th meeting with the support of the PHA Tenant Council members. Miller has suspect plans to relocate the playground behind homes on Queen Lane in vacant lots culminating into a junk yard stored with abandon cars, trash , broken glass and sharp metal objects. The Pulaskitown community is against this last minute plan that cheats the children of unsafe space and has advised the Councilwoman Cindy Bass of Millers’ intentions.
The Northwest Neighbors of Germantown (NWNG) has joined forces with the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (ATAC) with founder Michael Coard Esq. He fought victoriously to declare every December 15th , a National Slavery Memorial of the first President’s House who housed slaves located at 6th and Market Streets. NWNG also has gained the support of the National Coalition of Black Reparations of America (N’COBRA) with Minister Ari Merretazon who was part of commemoration of the oldest African Burial Site in Manhattan, New York, the Germantown Historical Society, (GHS) Philadelphia Historic Commission and Philadelphia Archaeological Forum who all have stressed their interests of support.
Several demands were forwarded to the attention of Michael Kelly, Executive Director of PHA on Dec. 12, 2011 and Dec. 30, 2011, with the concerns for demolition and there was no response from his office to satisfy the community.
The groups demand that PHA consider utilizing the safest demo plans that won’t disturb the Potter’s Field remains and home owned property. They at a PHA community meeting for the public on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church located at 5333 Pulaski Avenue .
State Represntative Rosita Youngblood and other reps of local elected officials were in attendance.