Nearly a decade after all eyes were on Chester to watch the city’s burgeoning economic renaissance, residents of the once-touted residential development, Wellington Heights on Beverly Lane, filed into City Council chambers pleading for a solution to the ravaging criminal element that surrounds them.
Each Wellington Heights resident bought into the dream that came with owning a roughly 1,500 sq. ft., three-bedroom newly built, modern home at, the time, was projected to be the epicenter of economic expansion, paired with an attractive first-time homebuyer incentive of up to $10,000 towards a down payment and closing fees.
They are now feeling the sting of buyer’s remorse.
“We bought here under the guise that, along with our developments, there would be developments within the outskirts of the area,” resident Vanessa Everett told Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland and Council. “There’s a school being built on Highland Ave. and if the rift-rats aren’t moved out of there, none of it will survive. The residents of Wellington Heights are being squashed and everyone wants to sell their homes; we’re bringing tax money in…”
Only one resident, a woman who relocated from Ridley Township, was able to sell her home, but in the city, property values have collapsed and potential buyers are apprehensive to purchase because of the crumbling infrastructures.
Wellington resident Isaha Peterson, who purchased her home in 2013 said, “I just want out, I just want out!”
Everett probed Kirkland about his mayoral campaign promises to increase the number of police officers and the installation “of closed-circuit cameras on key blocks,” ensuring the certainty that cameras are especially installed on Beverly Lane.
“I need Council to realize we are living on our floors, we can’t even sit downstairs, let alone on the porch,” Everett said. “I have a beautiful fence, I can’t even be in my yard and it’s not even summer time yet, so you can imagine how bad it’s going to get.”
Everett said there has been a shooting every day, since March 12 and her home, as well as many other residents’ homes, have been caught in the crossfire.
“We do not want to be a statistic, we don’t want to be a newspaper [headline] for being killed [while] watching TV,” Everett said.
Another resident gave a harrowing foretelling of the potential mortality, “One of us here will probably die.”
In an attempt to leverage empathy from residents, Kirkland said he “lived on 8th and Lloyd, almost all my life,” and it was there that, Kirkland said, he also experienced the ricochet of residing in a crime-plagued neighborhood.
“I’ve had my car shot up, bullets come through my window; I lived it- every day,” Kirkland said. “I truly lived it everyday; then I started doing things within my neighborhood to try to make things better. Fortunately, things are a lot better now, we’re not going through that but I understand those who are going through that.”
Everett said she moved from Philadelphia to seek a better life in Chester, before Kirkland interjected with, “And we don’t want you to go…We are actively moving some aggressive things, like working with the state police…we’re going with our district attorney’s office. We’re putting in an informative plan of action…”
Kirkland also minimized the actual size of the city’s criminal element before crediting “law enforcement personnel” with their efforts in fighting crime. “That’s what folks fail to realize, it’s a small group of thugs that try to make our communities bad, a small group.”