Moreland Ave. home can be profitably rehabbed

I would like to comment on the story about 540 W. Moreland Ave. that appeared in last week’s Chestnut Hill Local [“540 W. Moreland sale has neighbors, preservationists worried”].

I was featured a couple of weeks ago in a story about the Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s Preservation Award for our work in restoring 115 W. Chestnut Hill Ave. This project was completed over the span of almost a full year at a profit.

I recently made an all cash, as-is, offer on 540 W. Moreland at a price considerably more than asking price on the first day it was listed. The opinion that the property is in “deplorable condition” and “very damaged” is just an excuse as to the building’s viability as a restorable structure. I would have happily preserved the footprint and exterior structures of this building exactly as it currently stands, made significant improvements and still made a substantial profit.

The fire damage was minimal, the foundation and walls were structurally sound and the most distasteful components of the building were cosmetic ugliness resulting from years of hoarding. The property description implying that a developer could not have made money restoring this property in its current historic context is misleading.

My hope is that another developer or restorer has seen the property’s historic context and has figured out how to make a decent profit doing so. Or that a homeowner will restore it for their own use.

Brad Bank
Chestnut Hill

 

We have found an education middle ground

In your Jan. 31 editorial [“Looking for a middle ground on school funding”], you advocated for finding a middle ground that “can continue to give parents the choices they want but one that does not funnel money away from a school district …” The solution is already available: Combining a true, fair funding formula for public schools with expanded school choice programs does both.

It’s true that some traditional public schools in Philadelphia should be getting more state funding through the fair funding formula. If we got rid of the hold-harmless provision, each public school would receive a fair level of funding based on the number of students who want to attend that school.

If, however, parents want their children to attend a different school for whatever reason – this is still a free country – they should be able to do it. And programs like privately funded Education Tax Credit Scholarships allow for that. The problem is the state puts arbitrary caps on these scholarships, resulting in over half of the applications being denied. This must be fixed so that parents in low-income neighborhoods can have the same choices others have.

That leaves us at the charter situation, which is just a matter of institutional bias causing unneeded consternation.

Those who argue that charter schools drain money from public schools are focused on funding the system of their preference rather than letting funding follow students and the educational options of their parents’ preference. Charter schools are public schools, so complaints about draining funds are really complaints about funds moving from district-controlled schools that parents may not want their children attending to independently-run public charters.

Our first consideration should always be whether or not the children are being provided a quality education, not whether one particular administrative group is able to control more funding than another. This should be obvious.

Michael Torres
Senior Communications Officer
Commonwealth Foundation

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