Pleased that SCEE land won’t be sold

Although the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education board recently announced that it gave up the potential for tens of millions of dollars if its land had been sold to a developer, in reality I had already stopped that option in my successful petition (to the Pennsylvania Orphans Court) in which the SCEE Board is not allowed to sell any of the 345 acres without permission from the court.

The above court case was finalized in May 2009, and, among other items, it stopped the sale of any of the approximately 325 acres donated by my mother, Eleanor Houston Smith and remaining acres donated by her sister, Margaret Houston Meigs. In previous years there had been board members wishing to sell.

I, Eleanor (Houston) Smith Morris, had been an SCEE board member for 12 years. It was in my last three years, after my late husband’s death, that I fought almost singlehandedly to require the SCEE board to preserve my mother’s gift as natural open space for wildlife.

Although I am pleased that the board has finally adopted environmental easement measures to preserve the land, the board members are not the angels they are pretending to be. Worrying is the 84 acres of Standard and Minimum Easement Protection property.

Although these acres cannot be sold without permission from the court, it is my understanding that the SCEE board wishes to use them for urban farming and other uses, such as the recently proposed commercial composting facility – permitted uses under standard and minimal easement protection.

This was not the intention of the major donor, my mother, Eleanor Houston Smith, who gave most of the existing SCEE land. She did not give the land for urban farming or other uses destroying wildlife habitat. Her desire was to protect it for wildlife.

This has been rightly pointed out by Christina Kobland, president of the native landscaping company, Native Return, LLC ( and founder of the organization (, who claims that all of the land not already built upon should have been put under the highest level of protection as anything else is detrimental to the wildlife on the site.

As co-chairman of the Friends of the Schuylkill Nature Center, I would like to see the highest protection applied to all the land to protect the wildlife.

Eleanor (Houston) Smith Morris
Chestnut Hill

Kudos for ‘brilliant’ Super Bowl column

Thank you for the column on the Super Bowl by Jim Harris. It is so brilliant and funny.

I am not a football fan and could not care less who wins or loses these silly games where huge people puffed up with steroids run into each other and try to do as much physical and psychological harm as possible. This country is crazy to make such a big deal out of it. It is all about the money – nothing else.

It seems like an awful lot of these immature, ultra-macho multi-millionaires have criminal records for drunk driving and/or abuse against women. Their values are a mess, as are ours to make heroes out of people like Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger who have done so much harm to innocent victims.

Kudos to Jim Harris for poking fun at these “heroes.” And not taking their silly games so seriously. It made my day.

Shirley Harper

Bocelli restaurant says farewell

The main constant in life is change.

And so it is with Bocelli 2 Restaurant in Chestnut Hill.

It is with great regret that we announce the closing of Bocelli 2 Restaurant in Chestnut Hill. These have been an incredible three years and will remain in our hearts forever. We  hardly can find the words to express our gratitude for being part of this wonderful experience. We send a huge thanks to all of you, our incredible customers who have faithfully supported us week after week. We also send an enormous thanks to our staff.

It’s been a fantastic and truly unbelievable experience. We are so grateful to you all for having shared your lives with Bocelli 2 Restaurant and for all the empty plates. After “lovely compliments,” we are looking forward to welcoming you back at the original Bocelli at the Gwynedd Valley train station in Ambler, with our promise of great food and service.

Raphael and Roberto
Bocelli management

Deer kill backers ‘cold and uncaring’

Regarding the current slaughter of deer in the Wissahickon, the public should know how cold and uncaring all the pro-kill people are about this ongoing travesty in our backyard. They don’t even pretend to care about the cruel deeds they are doing, couching it all in scientific terms of “forest sustainability” and all that mumbo jumbo.

There was no hunting in the Wissahickon Valley for over 150 years, from the park’s inception in 1854 until 2000, and it “sustained” just fine. This park is not the private preserve of any one group, but they impose their own set of values on it.

There’s never any mention of even exploring alternative means of dealing with the deer – why not? A dialogue in this regard needs to begin. And then, worst of all, the Friends of the Wissahickon elite smugly proclaim that we protesters are “misinformed,” and that we “don’t have our facts straight.”

Here are the facts: they’re destroying beautiful, sentient beings in our park, and we find it morally repugnant. What’s not to understand? We don’t get grants to study ferns or to repair trail damage caused by mountain bikers from New Jersey. We live here, We pay taxes here and We don’t want our sacred space turned into a killing ground.

Jim Harris