Residents who live near Main Campus and alums of a school slated to become apartments have strong opinions about it.
Edith Haigler, a longtime Yorktown resident, has at times found herself woken in the wee hours of the morning, forced to call the police because of noisy parties hosted by Temple students. Other days, she’s waited hours for students to move their cars from her driveway.
“They come in the morning, and then you have to wait until the end of the day for them to move their vehicles,” said Haigler, 76.
Yorktown, the neighborhood that lies just southeast of Main Campus, was developed in the 1960s and was intended to be a residential area for the growing population of African-American, working-class families. But last fall, several students who moved into the area caused such a stir that community members petitioned to have them forced out.
The parking issue is the primary complaint of the Yorktown residents – and campus developments, such as apartments planned for the former Wanamaker School at 12th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, can mean more student vehicles in the area. As it is, some residents place orange parking cones around the neighborhood in an attempt to save spots from being filled by swarms of commuting students during semesters.
Brian Taylor, 30, a Yorktown resident who recalls his own time as a college student, understands students often party to unwind from weeks filled with class projects and exams but said students should be mindful that Yorktown is home to many senior citizens who hit the sack well before the kegs are tapped.
“This is not the dorm. This is a place where older people and families live,” Taylor said. “It all comes down to respect and common sense.”
Many younger Yorktown residents said the combination of both student housing and a community hub at the Wanamaker School will be beneficial.
“It sounds like a scenario where everyone wins,” said Yorktown resident Herb Jones, 29, a Wanamaker alumnus who participated in arts at the school before it was shut down.
Once converted, dormitories in the Wanamaker School could potentially cause fewer students to move into Yorktown’s residential homes, opening more of them to families, as many were originally intended.
Agail Miller, 61, said she would like to see developments like the Wanamaker School used partially for housing, since she said students who live near her do not mow their lawn.
“In all the places in Philadelphia, why do they have to live down here? It’s so unfair,” said longtime resident Florida Saulsby, who also had issues with students parking in the neighborhood. “We want to take them out of Yorktown.”
Other older residents who have lived in the neighborhood since childhood disagree about using a piece of Wanamaker for Temple students. They say the Wanamaker School should be used solely for the community.
Alena Pitts, who also attended Wanamaker, said she is sad to see her alma mater closed and that there are no middle schools left within walking distance of the community. Since she has five young grandchildren, Pitts said she would prefer to see Wanamaker reopened as a school.
“Most of the younger people [in Yorktown] aren’t aware of the history,” Pitts said. “This area holds a special place in my heart. I wish it could stay a community indefinitely.”
“I resent the fact that they are going to be used for students,” Winifere Thornon, a former health and gym teacher at Wanamaker added. “It should be all for the community.”
Laura Weber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.