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Philadelphia Officials Hear Dispute Over Playground That Sits On A Historic Cemetery

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison speaking to the crowd. (photo by Dan Wing/KYW)

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison speaking to the crowd. (photo by Dan Wing/KYW)

wing_dan DL Dan Wing
 Dan Wing is a news anchor and reporter for KYW Newsradio...
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By Dan Wing

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials held a public input meeting Monday night at the African American Museum to let the residents of the Queen Village neighborhood voice their opinions and concerns about renovations to a playground where the remains of 5,000 African Americans were found.

Dozens packed the building’s auditorium to continue the discussion over the future of Weccacoe Park. Most noted the importance of the park to the neighborhood, and pushed the word compromise. But the debate comes down to how to honor the remains – remove the playground and rec center from the burial area, or move forward with plans to renovate the playground and rec center without disturbing them. Pastor Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel would like to see a combination of both.

“And for children to walk into the burial ground and be forced to ask because it is so compelling the difference between the playground and now in the burial ground – what does this mean. It means there was a time when black people couldn’t even bury their own dead in the city of Philadelphia, and that that is a story we don’t need to repeat,” Pastor Tyler said.

Others say they would like to see the site preserved, and not have children play there.

One resident, who has two daughters that play at the Weccacoe, says he would like to see the site preserved, and not have children play there.

“Anywhere that your ancestors are buried, that is sacred ground. I am so baffled and confused as to why we are even having this conversation,” he said.

City officials will take the comments into consideration before discussing any potential plans at a future meeting.

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