Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Request withdrawn for Council letter of approval for HUD housing on Holy Ghost Church property

Unable to attend tonight's Borough Council meeting, I received information that Father Evans wiithdrew his request for a letter of approval from Phoenixville Borough Council for the HUD housing proposal for the Holy Ghost Church property.

More information will follow.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks be to GOD! Never underestimate the power of prayer!
I am thrilled for the congregation of Holy Ghost Church and hope they will unite to NEVER let this happen to them again!
Christ is Risen! (< or will be really soon ??) :)

Anonymous said...

The meeting was quite interesting. To start it off, Father Evans was quite eloquent in appealing to the council to allow the much needed HUD facility to be endorsed that evening as it had to be applied for ASAP. The room was full of people who were not supporting this effort.

The few who came to support the sale did not stay long and never took the podium other then one speaker.

God was in the room that night and worked for securing the sanctified property as requested by the VALID AND AUTHENTIC Lease of 99 years regardless of it being described by Mr Evans and church council as bogus and not authentic.

Please pray for healing and encourage those on the other side to move forward and raise money and capital campaign to build the center that they need. HUD can be put in many other areas of town, but not our church property.

Indeed He is Risen (sson) !

Karen said...

Please visit the following blog for immediate information:

http://holyghostphoenixville.blogspot.com/

Благословляемый, быть Богу!

(Blessed be to God!)

Anonymous said...

"Father" Evans always facinates me. He only wears his collar when he's trying to impress someone or is looking for some type of favorable reaction, vote or result. To my knowlege he does NOT do anything priestly. He is a HUD/Section 8 developer and nothing more. His collar of convenience seems to have lost it's luster. eh?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when we can expect this to be aired on PCTV? I couldn't make the meeting, but was there in spirit. I want to see the Hand of God at work!
Congratulations to you, the Faithful of Holy Ghost Parish!

Frankie said...

Father Evans is a real Episcopal Priest. He works in various Parishes as a supply Priest, helping as needed to fill in for vacations and emergencies as need in those Parishes.
His main Ministry under the auspices of the Philadelphia Diocese is providing good quality and affordable housing to seniors and the disabled.

Anonymous said...

The meeting is being aired right now (Wed 4/16 6:45 pm) on PCTV. The planning commission is interviewing candidates. HG hasn't come up yet.

Anonymous said...

Is Father Evans connected to Evans Property Management????

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous at 7:13pm, public records and SOS do confirm Jim Evans as principal of Evans Managment Group, Inc. among
no LESS than 6 Not-for-profits and
One additional for-profit corporation, St Peters Management, Inc.

Anonymous said...

>>>In response to Anonymous at 7:13pm, public records and SOS do confirm Jim Evans as principal of Evans Managment Group, Inc. among
no LESS than 6 Not-for-profits and
One additional for-profit corporation, St Peters Management, Inc.<<<<

ALL THAT and he needs to start taking a church's property?? How many widows and orphans live in his house?

Anonymous said...

To frankie at 5:44 PM.....ah yeah....right....and I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you. I suspect he has no parish because as he once stated,at least as I recall...he needed more money to raise his family and send his kids to college, hence the developer decision. Now about that bridge....

Karen said...

From the Phoenix:

Critics shoot down HUD proposal

OTHER PLANNERS, HOLY GHOST MEMBERS SLAM EVANS’ PLAN FOR SENIOR HOUSING

By G.E. Lawrence, Special to The Phoenix

George Martynick, who serves on the planning commission with Father Jim Evans, raised concerns about a possible conflict of interest in a previous rezoning vote.PHOENIXVILLE — Father James Evans patiently described his proposal for an 80-unit, $10 million elderly housing project to Borough Council Tuesday evening. He presented sketch plans for the project, as well as photos of a related, and similarly-designed, project in Delaware County.

He was, he said, seeking a letter of support essential to an application to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for project financing.

Then it all imploded.

Evans faced, and Council heard, procedural objections from two of his colleagues on the Planning Commission.

He faced, and Council heard, strenuous objection to the project from members of Holy Ghost Orthodox Christian Church, members who had opposed the sale of a portion of church property for the project in a congregational vote March 30.

But before the last of the line of congregants to speak made it to the microphone, Father Evans suddenly and unexpectedly withdrew the project from Council consideration.

Planning Commission member George Martynick argued that Evans’s project “didn’t fall off the tree in the last month or so.” Therefore, he said, Evans’ participation in an 6-0 Commission vote on changes to zoning requirements in the Downtown Commercial (D-COMM) District, in which a portion of the subject property lies, “tainted” the vote by what “could constitute a conflict of interest” Evans did not disclose.

Holy Ghost member Helen Langner’s remarks were representative of a half-dozen parishioners who spoke.

Langner said that the congregation’s vote resulted in a slim 43-38 majority in favor of the sale for $500,000 of approximately 1.5 of the church’s 23 acres, a vote in which she dissented. She said that while church regulations allowed for the majority to rule, “it was a slim vote of 226 adult members,” a vote for which proxies were not permitted.

“The property is under an agreement that prevents a sale for 99 years,” she said. “We want a new social hall” — the purpose to which the sale funds would be put — “but we didn’t want a quick fix. We were rushed into this.

“Father Evans wants us to honor thy father and mother,” Langner said, “but what about the honor due our fathers and mothers of [the founders] of this Church?”

“I am withdrawing my request [of Council],” Father Evans said suddenly, in the end.

“This is a good project,” he said. “But I simply do not want to be part of a church’s internal [strife] in this way. Nor do I think Borough Council people should be in this position. I am not comfortable pursuing the application [to HUD] under these circumstances.”

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Holy Ghost! You brought what looks like a shady backdoor deal out of the darkness right out into the Light.
George Martynick was absolutely right. This plan didn't just fall off of a tree. There was NOTHING right about this situation from the start. If this is the way a certain person attempts to manipulate the system then IMHO he doesn't belong on the Planning Commission. Haven't we had ENOUGH of this in Phoenixville already?
As for the spiritual leader of Holy Ghost-he needs to examine his role in all of this and do some serious soul searching.

The days of the perceived 'dumb hunkie' are gone. Those men and women who left behind their family and country at such young ages to seek a better life were STRONG and independent people. They worked HARD to build what is left for us today. They might have had difficulty with the language and culture, but their chidren and grandchildren do not.

I applaud the good people of Holy Ghost Church for fighting this battle with fair communication, prayer and love for your church. Well done! Have a blessed and glorious Pascha! :)

Anonymous said...

I called PCTV and they do not broadcast this show thus why many in areas outside of PASD can not view. The Pville District airs this now and only viewable by borough from what I was told by PSTV just now. They have not aired in 5 years. HELP NEED TO SEE THIS TAPE!!! Many hurt by misquotes of the HUD matter- or ears that didn't comprehend what happened at meeting!!! No one wants anything more then to thank goodness the social hall was not bulldozed and then no money when agreed by Mr Evans- and then what - !

Anonymous said...

My hearts go out the the ladies of the baking crew who believed they would actually have a place to live in the HUD home - Please realize, that day would not have happened safely as you all were promised by the men of the collar. To get votes, this way, is horrible.

Please know God will watch over you and heal your parish

Anonymous said...

As an outsider looking in, I find is truly sad that the group opposed to this project choose such a public forum in which to air the church's "dirty laundry". I also find it interesting that those opposed managed to rally such a large contingent of supporters for this very public meeting, yet were not able to garner sufficient support to vote "no" at their church's meeting. Regardless of the margin of a win or lose, it's a win or a loss.

As touted in previous posts here, those with a legacy within the church have a duty and an obligation to uphold the good NAME of the church. They have a responsibility to ensure that the respect and dignity of their church is maintained. The fact that those opposed choose to put on this type of display is an outrage and in my opinion, and has tarnished the church within the community.

This project had value. This project stood to provide those in the church's own community with something everyone deserves..a HOME. Is this church faction more concerned with a building facade and an acre of land than they are to the needs of their own community members? A community which has always supported them in the past?

This group has not only cast a poor light upon themselves, but upon their church as well.

For once, I am disappointed to be a member of the Phoenixville community...and never more proud to be a Roman Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Page A5 of Wednesday's Phoenix lists the schedule of broadcasts on the bottom right corner. The Phoenixville Network, TPN22, lists the Council meeting of April 15th for showing on Wed 4/16 and Fri 4/18 at 6pm. I watched last night but it looked like it was the meeting from March 24. I hope the information in the paper is correct. I have Verizon and my TPN channel is 28.

Anonymous said...

>>>"My hearts go out the the ladies of the baking crew who believed they would actually have a place to live in the HUD home - Please realize, that day would not have happened safely as you all were promised by the men of the collar. To get votes, this way, is horrible.

Please know God will watch over you and heal your parish"<<<<

AMEN! Now isn't that sad? Of course they would believe two men in collars. It just drives home so many gospel stories about God's sheep.
I promise to stop in and support your baking ladies from now on.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 'outside looking in':
i totally disagree with you (and don't think you are really an outsider). perhaps you can call fr evans and offer an acre or so next to your own church building? there is still time.i
what a wonderful gesture that would be.
this was not just holy ghost's 'dirty laundry'. i beleve that had they not gone public they would have been taken to the cleaners an so would the people who have invested in the downtown revitalization project.
as far as being proud of your faith, you should be. :) however what would still be going on today had some victims of the you-know-what scandal not had the guts to come forward?
we of all faiths sometimes have an obligation to come forward. had the people of holy ghost not come forward the truth of this housing project might have never been brougt forward. by the time the people of phoenixville would have gotten wind of it it would have been too late to stop it!
don't try to shame them and make them feel guilty. they were right to do what they did

Anonymous said...

The days of the perceived 'dumb hunkie' are gone.Gone they were never here.Hunkies were never dumb.Really NEVER!

Anonymous said...

Dear 4:42

If you were at the meeting - you would know that those opposed saved the church! The name of our dear parish, was with us and guided us with this situation. The needs for the people whom are low income and elderly, if you paid attention are not being met at many of the area's housing due to poor quality or deferred maint.

Also, the community respects those that spoke with faith, love and honestly at the need to keep the holy - santified - historical green space as is and noted with the Reeves and founders covenent.

With the many other areas in town, that can be used for housing, this offer was an insult to us and that is a fact.

Anonymous said...

To "As an outsider looking in", the Roman Catholic Church is one of the biggest land owners in the country, including in Phoenixville. As another writer suggested, perhaps they should consider selling/donating some of their land to the cause. Your comment "I find is truly sad that the group opposed to this project choose such a public forum in which to air the church's "dirty laundry". What dirty laundry? Going public is exactly what they should have done because it raised the awareness of those most affected. What other option did they have, particularly when their parish priest had already signed on to sell the land. Your critisizm is ridiculous. I applaud their effort, concern and ability to turn back what had appeared inevitable. I cheer their efforts and wish them the very best. Of all the places this type of needed housing could go, that was one of the worst places. Jim Evans should look at the old steel property. There even a St. Peter's Place would be an improvement. Hooray for Holy Ghost parish for stopping this debacle.They did it the only way they could and should proud of the civil and respectful way it was handled.

Anonymous said...

In an effort to clear the air around whether the passion demonstrated by those Holy Ghost members that spoke up at the Borough Council meeting perhaps there could be a takeaway here that benefits the Phoenixville community as a whole.

Being present at the meeting it was clear that the proposal Fr Evans provided was eloquent and appealing. There were however several factual yet relevant data left out of his presentation to the borough and from the responses apparently left out of the original proposal to the members of Holy Ghost.

As with two of Fr Evans existing "elderly" HUD funded properties, the specific type of HUD funding that these are characterized is Section 202 funding. This was also to be the nature of funding for the proposed 80 unit facility at Holy Ghost.

What is critical to be aware of and not just for those members of Holy Ghost is that this funding carries very specific HUD guidelines. For example, when HUD commits to fund such a project it is making the commitment based upon the fact that the facility will be there for 40 years!! There are additional criteria that the property owner/manangement must meet in order to keep their HUD contract intact.

Beyond these important facts where the lack of specific disclosure created more questions from the borough council that may have been eliminated is the fact that the request for of letter of support from the borough required in advance all neccessary approvals such as Planning, Historical, Traffic, Ground/Wastewater management, etc.

Effectively HUD only looks to proceed with funding a Section 202 project if it(HUD)has assurance that the project would not face any opposition.

The fact that this information was not disclosed to the borough places them in an awkward position and one that could and should be avoided.

With sufficient evidence of other HUD funded properties facing challenges around upkeep, ongoing maintenance, etc this example may well provide the Borough of Phoenixville with the opportunity to learn from what has been a very awkward position.

I implore those within the Borough to ask that additional question or review and adhere to existing protocol, making changes if neccessary.

Respectfully Submitted

Solofloyd said...

to anonymous 'outside looking in':

you are so proud to be catholic that you post anonymously. yeah, i get it.....

Anonymous said...

I doubt the poster was Catholic at all. He stressed he was an outsider and stressed he was Roman Catholic, yet attempted to 'shame them' for airing 'dirty laundry', leading me to believe he was not an outsider at all.
The 'dirty laundry' in this situation needed to be aired and aired quickly. I am not sure all of it is out in the open yet.
I think the use of Karen's blog and their own blog was instrumental in stopping this project. I applaud them for the way they handled this situation. If someone was exposed for what he is, so be it.

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting all week to watch the broadcast of the 4/15 Council meeting.
He has applications in the wings for the next three years but for some reason this one had to be rushed through the council for blind approval, rushed through an unjust vote at Holy Ghost parish all to meet a deadline that hasn't even been advertised yet? Failure to blindly follow his lead would mean this area would lose this funding 'forever', on and on?

I laughed as I heard his attempt to pull rank on the voice of the people by stating local clergy all agreed with him. I laughed as I heard him try to make them feel as though they owed the Episcopal church something for the use of their chapel in their early years without a church. Calling the 99 year old document 'bogus' was the ultimate slap in the face.

"The Ponytail" started the firestorm with the example of the two women forced to live in current HUD squalor. His closing statement rocked!

Finally- I absolutely APPLAUD ALL of the women I saw come forward to defend their church. They all had excellent points and presented themselves in a strong manner with true love for their church. I don't want to ask where the men of the parish were, but I do want to remind these women just who was left at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. Who went to the tomb on Easter morning? Who bore the Son of God himself? You did a FANTASTIC job. Airing dirty laundry? HAH! You washed that dirt away and hung it out to dry in the sun. YOU GO GIRLS! Where do I go to join?

Karen said...

Posted anonymously to blog - edited

Congratulations to those who made their voices heard !

The entire process was an embarassment of the powerful.

True faith in God would have required full and open accounting, an opportunity for all to speak their mind in a Christian fashion (not just be allowed to ask a question as the parish leadership told them in the meeting). True faith in God would have been certain that with prayer and spiritual guidance, the right things would happen.

Learn the history of Holy Ghost church. Take time to look at the ledgers of donations $0.25 and $1 at a time to build something that by most accounts would be a cathedral. Learn about the sacrifice of the founders and benefactors who worked hard all day at their jobs and then went to work hard all night at the church to make ethnic foods to raise funds for construction.

What have the leaders of the parish done in the last several years ? Where is the committment from the spiritual and lay leaders for the betterment of the entire parish community ?

Someone mentioned the "dumb hunkies". We could learn a lot from them. They found a way over 70 years ago to defeat the greed of a younger generation in order to ensure what they worked so hard for was never sold for pennies on the dollar (as was just attempted).

God was watching over all those who prayed for the proper outcome. What a lenten lesson !

Posted anonymously - Edited

Karen said...

Please remember to refrain from making accusations or becoming hurtful when writing to the blog.

I know emotions are still raw on this issue and I don't want to reject posts.

I will edit.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

>>"...Someone mentioned the "dumb hunkies". We could learn a lot from them..."

I wrote that post and by no means was it meant as a put down. We've all heard the term and we all know just how untrue it is. Though I do not belong to your church, their blood runs through my veins too. I was incensed when I first read of this situation and I rejoice in your victory today. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Summary of Barry Cassidy's remarks to Council
I am here tonight to represent the residents who complained to the housing authority concerning the conditions of their housing units. I wanted to go on the record as saying that we hope there will be not be any problems of reprisal for these people who came forward as their complaints. Ms. Thomas’s problems started with a complaint of mold.

Serafine Thomas from Fairview and Penny Washington from King Terrace are two different people with two different life styles and values. They do have one common desire, to have a comfortable, safe, and well functioning housing unit. These housing units are owned and sponsored by the United States of America, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the County of Chester, through the Chester County Housing Authority.

Searfine Thomas’s problem is simple. She has a bag of human waste blocking access to her cabinets and providing an unsanitary food preparation area. On a recent visit I can confirm that the bag is filling up slowly, has an odor, and has a brownish color liquid retained in the bag. The Housing Authority in response to complaints about mold installed this improvement. There is a letter sent by congressman Jim Gerlock saying that the problem would be addressed. In addition there are follow up letters by the Congressman. The problem is long standing and with merit.

Penny Washington’s problem is also well documented as she has stood before this Council and provided information. She is concerned about the ongoing plumbing problems that must be fixed, with numerous backups and poor drainage living in the units is difficult. She has observed numerous fire safety problems that plague the building. She also points out that absence of proper cleaning in the common areas gives King Terrance a run down appearance.

Penny Washington’s documentation shows that problems have existed since at the minimum 2003 as it seems the sewer and water, general issues relating to trash and cleanliness as well as fire safety issues were never resolved properly.

The issues In King Terrace are perpetual. There is a need for a more comprehensive management approach by the Chester County Housing Authority in dealing with the issues of this building. It has become apparent to me, as housing and economic development professional that there is an immediate need for a cash infusion into the maintenance fund dealing with King Terrace. The CDC is advising the Council to ask the Chester County Commissioners to allot whatever HOME money may be available to the Housing Authority to immediately fix the plumbing problems in King Terrace, fix up the 14 un-rented units in Fairview Village and of course remove the bag of human waste and repair the leak.

The basic issue is really not related strictly to these two individuals but the population that resides in both of the structured housing units as well as the scattered site housing administered by the Chester County Housing Authority. I ask you to remember back a year or so when a teen was murdered in one of the Housing Authority units, which later was classified as a crack house.

As a Borough we are charged with looking out for the health safety and welfare of our citizens. Conditions that border squalor in the units under the control of the Housing Authority must be looked at with a discerning eye. The Chester County Housing Authority is an organization that is charged with providing housing to our population of poor, disadvantaged, handicapped and elderly. These are the people we must protect for they are at the highest risk of being plagued by health and safety problems as a result of lack of decent, clean and functional housing.

We have held meetings and then written letters to get to the bottom of this issue and provide relief to the constituents. I was asked to be the liaison to the Housing Authority because of my knowledge of the programs and ability to analyze the reality of the situation. I have reported back on a couple of occasions to the Council that there needs to be more improvements and better control by the Housing Authority to make their efforts fruitful. We need permits to be taken out for work done to measure the progress the Authority makes in resolving the issues.

Even though we delineated our concerns in writing to the Housing Authority they have chosen to respond inappropriately to the council by saying that they have given us all the information that they are going to give us. As a political subdivision we have much more influence that a typical tenant. If we cannot receive a straight answer from the Housing Authority, you can imagine how these two ladies feel.

It would be my hope that all the repairs can be done soon and these deplorable conditions that have arisen can be rectified quickly. Years and years of neglect and decay need to be tackled in a systematic manner. I am not sure that we will ever be able to count on the housing authority as a partner in the future unless significant adjustments in attitude and competency take place. Our Code Office has sent a letter to the Housing Authority asking them to secure permits for the work they are doing to enable us to track their progress.

In closing Penny Wahington, Searfine Thomas and I all question the ability of the housing authority to maintain, rent and provide safe and adequate housing for those they are charged to serve. In my view there should be no further action taken on any additional housing to be constructed in the Borough until we are clear that the Housing Authority of Chester County is unmistakably able to maintain and utilize in a manner consistent with law and common decency, the housing they already own and manage.

Anonymous said...

Understand your dersire to edit and remove "accusations", but in this case they are true.

Let me state it a differrent way so it doesn't come across as an accusation...

Truth can certainly stand the light of day. When someone, anyone, especially a leader comes to you to talk privately about an issue affectign the community, ask them to repeat the conversation in public. I was once told of the NY Times Rule, ie, if you wouldn't want it printed on the front page of the NY Times, you probably shouldn't do it. In politics I've heard it called a back-room deal. IF ANY of that happened, you should be asking yourself "why the need for secrecy ?"

Anonymous said...

Regarding the information given by Mr Evans on the state of PA being the 2nd highest in elderly. According to the US census of 2006 this is not the case. PA ranks 5th in those older then 85+ years old and 6th in those 65-84 years old.

Need is apparant in many states, however, repairing the many facilities with HUD funds is a higher priority for Phoenixville especially when those in town are turning into Federal run upon contract expirations ahead. Adding another facility, which can not house those from the parish that were going to sell their lots for this purpose, is not in the best interest to anyone.

This matter is not laid to rest due to many who feel they lost an opportunity to live in this facility so close to home. Full disclosure and honestly on the issues must be made by those who presented this in that the facts were scewed and believed - but please admit you were wrong and move on as this was only a lucrative business deal for those who refuse to let it rest.