Make Philly's historical preservation practical

A baroque clock tower in Frankford that dates to the 1850s is not historically designated and could be demolished at any time.

Preserving Philly’s treasures

It’s great to hear that Philadelphia, already UNESCO’s first World Heritage City in the United States, has been dubbed a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (“Philadelphia, a ‘National Treasure,” Thursday). Importantly, as architecture columnist Inga Saffron noted, this is the first time an “entire city” has been identified for this distinction.

The city government, in adjusting its historic preservation policies, should take care not to blind itself to what lies beyond Center City. From the vantage point of Northeast Philadelphia, for example, many verifiable historic assets remain intact not because the law preserves them, but only because developers haven’t yet approached their owners.

Development and preservation need not be mutually exclusive. The city should create more practical rules that will discourage property owners from destroying historic assets out of fear that historic designation will mean too many restrictions on the use of their property. The preservation ordinance must become a more usable — and more used — instrument if Philadelphia is to remain a treasure.

Chris Bordelon, Philadelphia, chrisbordelon@gmail.com

Protecting vulnerable Pa. citizens

A new proposal could prevent millions of Pennsylvanians from getting quality health care. We cannot afford for Pennsylvania Senate Bill 600 to become a requirement.

State Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), such as Health Partners Plans, serve populations grappling with homelessness, food insecurity, and other social determinants of health care. The company recommended to provide care coordination as outlined in the bill is based in California, which means Pennsylvanians could lose jobs. In addition, most of the work is performed over the phone. You simply cannot dial in effective care for people without regular access to phones or the internet.

We provide hands-on personal care, coupled with in-person community outreach. The bill would provide care coordination that Medicaid MCOs are already required by law to give, creating duplication and waste.

Bottom line: we need to prevent additional barriers for our Medicaid population to continue to receive the best quality care.

Denise Croce, executive vice president, Clinical and Provider Management, Health Partners Plans, Philadelphia

Cut down on plastic bags

Some Pennsylvania legislators once again fail to recognize an enduring principle of public health and safety — those elected officials who are closest to the citizens are in the best position to protect them. The state should not usurp local officials’ authority to constrain the use of plastic bags (“Pa. lawmakers vote to preempt plastic bag rules,” Thursday).
When littered, these bags mask the beauty and choke what is living on our public and private property. Gov. Wolf should veto the measure the Senate passed on Wednesday.

Manufacturers understandably cry “foul” to limiting plastic-bag use, citing possible job loss, but on balance we should not have our water and grounds fouled for decades — the time it takes the plastic to disappear.

Stephen F. Gambescia, professor, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, sfg23@drexel.edu

Reduced soda sales, healthier city

I was amused when listening to a Philadelphia radio station’s story about the city soda tax being a big dud because it has failed to bring in close to the amount of money projected when initially levied (“City says predicted revenues to fall short,” Wednesday). I would consider that to be a big success, because decreased consumption of sugary drinks should decrease obesity and, eventually, diabetes in Philadelphia.

Jonathan Yeagley, Berwyn, jyeag1185@aiol.com

Volunteers resuscitate a library

This is a “Thank you” to those who supported 14 volunteers who took it upon themselves to reopen the library at John B. Kelly Elementary School in Germantown. In readying the space, which had been closed for three years, volunteers culled an outdated collection, categorized and labeled, organized, scrubbed, swept, rearranged, and converted it into an educational haven for all.

Besides those who do read-alouds and help children select books three days a week, our “behind the stacks angels,” who provided grants, services, and books, include Diane Blum, Iris Newman, Greg Lum, author Allison Stoutland, Marge Neff, Dan Winterstein, Haverford Friends School, Beth Clearfield, Audrey Gardner, and Sofia and Eliot Seaberg.

And finally, the staff of Kelly School. Those of us involved strongly believe in volunteerism but know that efforts only come to fruition when you have support and appreciation from others.

Bernice Sherman and Penny Colgan-Davis, Philadelphia, abclady@comcast.net