Article written

  • on 10.02.2011
  • at 09:16 AM
  • by Ian Romano

District 172: Does the Perzel Center need a name change? 0


This is part of ongoing coverage in “District 172: The Politics of Change after State Rep. John Perzel,” a collaborative effort with Philadelphia Neighborhoods funded by J-Lab.

Bob Dillon may look rusty, but the 68-year-old pitcher says he still has a lot of fight left.

He and his teammates workout at the John M. Perzel Community Center every winter Friday to warm up for the Philadelphia Senior Softball League season.

“We’ve been coming here for a couple of years now,” Dillon said. But other residents say they shouldn’t have a community center named after a politician indicted under corruption charges.

The community center on the corner of St. Vincent and Battersby streets was named after former Rep. John Perzel when it was built in 2006. But Perzel is now out on bail facing corruption charges. The former House speaker was indicted in November 2009 of misusing taxpayer funds.

Michael Dool, a resident of Mayfair, said no public building should be named after a politician. He said the practice exists in all areas throughout the country and it needs to stop.

“It kind of promotes an environment where politicians are fostering pork-barrel spending just for self-promotion,” Dool said. “A title like Northeast Community Center would be fine.”

Rachel Conrad, a local mother of two children, also said the facility’s name was  an issue even if the building benefits people in the area.

“I think [the organizers] should change it,” Conrad said.

Recreational district manager of lower Northeast Philadelphia Art Comas would not comment on the building’s name.

Cathy Balsley said organizers should not change anything about the John M. Perzel Community Center, including the name, as it still serves as an effective focal point for public gatherings since it was built.

“It’s something for the kids to do,” Balsley said. “They have a place for their sporting events and after school programs.”

She said the building was also convenient for senior citizens because it’s a short drive for them to meet each other. “It’s their safe haven to talk to other people,” Balsley said.

None of the members of the A’s softball team commented on the John M. Perzel Community Center’s name. Dillon said his workouts at the center are great for his back. The pitcher had a spinal disk replaced last August.

Bob Dillon, Jack Narkin and George Mazza play on the A's, a senior softball team in the region. Narcin said his team holds eight championships.

“Part of my therapy is getting ready for the season,” Dillon said.

Dillon said he is confident his arm will be ready for his team’s first season game this April as he routinely walks and stretches around the center’s basketball gym.

The A’s will play at the baseball fields by Linden and Torresdale avenues.

Perzel will likely go to court this fall, as his jury selection was pushed back to August. Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis approved a motion to give Perzel’s legal team more time to review evidence against him. Perzel lost a re-election bid last November against Kevin Boyle, who now represents the 172nd District.

Perzel held the 172nd district House seat for more than 30 years.

Ian Romano is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

  • Tim Kearney

    The Building should never have been named after a living politician, especially one who controlled the Board who named it after him. It was obviously for political self promotion. John Perzel was very good at self promotion with taxpayers money. It is also why he is under indictment. The building should be named after the taxpayers or simply ‘the people’s community center.’

  • Doris Hall

    The John Perzel Center should be sold and the money given back to the people who contributed to his campaign and taxpayers.

  • Johnie Barkenhagen

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

NEast Philly is powered by WordPress and FREEmium Theme.
developed by Dariusz Siedlecki and brought to you by

More in Features (113 of 203 articles)