*UPDATE* November 4, 2016: Wee Care Won! Already the hazardous tree’s been removed, and now the daycare is making plans to refurbish the play yard asap. Read the full story here.
Almost every day, we walk by the beautiful Falls of Schuylkill Baptist Church and then kinda sigh over the “dead playground” two doors down. You’ve seen it, right? Next to a similarly fenced-in area that until recently still advertised an old Farmers Market. At least that lot has been cleared.
This other one’s a tangle of weeds and abandoned toys — which is eye-sore enough — but it’s also overshadowed by a dead tree that’s been literally falling down one limb at a time.
What gives? Why did Wee Care Daycare (who operates out of the church) build the playground if they weren’t prepared to take care of it?
Oh, the church wants to take care of it! Problem is, that parcel of land has been held up in what can only be described as an amazing amount of litigation, much of it pointless and possibly spiteful.
We’ve spoken to the church’s attorney, to the ladies who run the daycare, to the parents who can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS since their children have been able to play outside at daycare. We even heard from East Falls Development Corporation‘s Gina Snyder, who worries the tree might also pose a risk to cars and pedestrians on this part of Midvale.
Pretty much EVERYONE wants this tree taken down.
Since 2013, Wee Care has made numerous requests for permission to pay to have the tree taken down but the landlord (educator Cristina Alvarez) not only disputes the need to remove the tree but in March 2014 she put the church on notice “to take no action regarding said tree.”
It gets better! Last November, a non-jury trial in common pleas court found for WEE CARE, ordering the landlord to deliver the deed to the property to Falls of Schuylkill Baptist Church within 60 days. Plus, pay for a land survey and attorney fees on top of that for frivolous arguments.
See, this land where the dead tree sits was actually already sold to the Church in March of 2013: deposit paid, contract signed by both parties. Days before closing, the seller backed out and Wee Care filed suit for breach of contract.
So this court in November totally ruled in favor of Wee Care, but yet here we are February 2015 and the battle still drags on. The landlord has filed post-trial motions, which means the church’s attorney must respond in 30 days, and then the courts have 3 months to decide.
(Calls and emails to the property owner’s attorney, to date, have been unanswered).
Maybe by May, then? Unless perhaps an Act of God could give us a hand before then….