Council postpones fate of the new prison
On Thursday, City Council was scheduled to vote on whether or not to purchase a $7.2 million parcel of waterfront land in order to build a new prison, but at the last minute Councilman Bobby Henon decided to hold the bill until next week.
It was Henon's third hold since he championed the bill last month.
If passed next week as he believes it will, the bill would allow the city to negotiate the purchase of a 58-acre plot of prime real estate on the Delaware River, and begin planning for a new prison facility to replace the 140-year-old House of Corrections.
Henon said that he has the nine yes-votes needed to pass the bill, but that he chose to hold out of respect for one of his fellow Council members, who wished to discuss the bill further. He also added that there was a lot of other significant legislation on the table today which needed Council's undivided attention.
The prison proposal has received backlash from pro-education and anti-prison activists. Outside of City Council’s packed chambers, an overflow of protesters chanted “save our schools” and spoke about the dire $105 million the school system needs.
On another front, Mayfair and Holmesburg residents have been protesting the prison potentially taking up coveted waterfront property.
Robert Quartucci will be testifying against the bill as both a resident and business owner.
"At all levels, the system is broken," he said. "To build another prison and to start even making this kind of investment is wrong on so many levels."
Henon has countered that education and incarceration aren’t in conflict when it comes to Council’s budget.
He also emphasized that, if authorized today, a new prison would require at least another five years of plan for community involvement, planning, and not to mention additional legislation.
“We are no where near even beginning to discuss if we even are going to build a replacement prison or not,” he said. “We’re trying to start a discussion, not finish a discussion.”
Check out Plan Philly's coverage to learn more about the proposed prison development.