Community groups host press conference with elderly, disabled people home

Diamond Park Apartments is across the street from Temple’s proposed football stadium location.

Community residents hold up a sign saying "WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED" during a "NO MEANS NO" Call To Action rally at 15th and Norris streets on Monday morning. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Community residents, students and members of the Black Clergy held an anti-stadium press conference outside Geasey Field and Diamond Park Apartments, which are adjacent to each other on the corner of 15th and Norris streets.

The group of about a dozen residents — many of whom were senior citizens or disabled residents in Diamond Park Apartments — emphasized their stern rejection of Temple’s proposed on-campus football stadium. Diamond Park Apartments is across the street from Geasey Field, which is part of the proposed location for the 35,000-seat stadium that would cost $130 million.

Diamond Park Apartments is a Housing and Urban Development-subsidized housing facility for elderly people and people with physical disabilities, according to the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.

“Temple’s got it twisted,” said Ruth Birchett, a lifelong resident and block captain for the 1900 block of Norris Street. “I have been in many fights with Temple University about their encroaching on our community over and over again. Now we have so many people involved to fight consistently for the past two and a half years.”

The residents and clergymen also said they want Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke to oppose any and all legislation to close 15th Street for the proposed stadium. To build the stadium, city council would need to pass a streets bill to permanently close 15th Street between Norris Street and Montgomery Avenue to build the stadium atop it.

This street is the only continuous southbound street in the city.

A spokesperson for Clarke told The Temple News earlier this month that he opposes Temple’s current stadium proposal, until the university and the community can come to an agreement.

“We want him to make a permanent commitment to not support this,” said the Rev. Robert Shipman of Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Strawberry Mansion. “We don’t want to run around every six months to oppose this thing so we don’t have to run around every six months to protest again. He needs to stand with the community who put him in office.”

The conference was hosted by the No Stadium, No Deal Coalition, which is made up of the Philadelphia NAACP, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity and the Stadium Stompers, among others.

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