By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council members lashed out today at the Nutter administration over what they say are the poor condition of police and fire stations around the city. And they singled out the police station in North Philadelphia where an officer had been stationed when he was slain last month.
“It is literally ridiculous,” said Council president Darrell Clarke this morning at a budget hearing, about the condition of the 22nd District police station, where officer Robert Wilson III was stationed when he was gunned down early last month at a nearby video game store.
Clarke said he visited the station after officer’s murder and was horrified at the conditions there.
“It is embarrassing to go and talk about the wonderful officers of the 22nd — and they are — but have them work in that facility,” said Clarke. “We’re increasing (overall) capital expenditures to record levels since 2002, but we can’t find a way to get those police officers out of that dump? That’s what I’m going to call it: it’s a dump.”
Rebecca Rhynhart, the mayor’s budget director, told councilmembers the administration has set aside $16 million for capital improvements at police and fire stations:
“There is a significant amount of money available right now to upgrade and fix police and fire stations across the city,” she said.
Public property director Bridget Collins-Greenwald said the 22nd District is, at this point, in line for repairs — but not a new building.
“The 22nd (district station) will receive substantial upgrades, but just in the existing facility at the moment,” she told the hearing.
Clarke was incredulous:
“Are you serious? ‘Upgrades?’ ”
And Clarke pressed the point further with Rhynhart.
(Clarke:) “I don’t know what kind of signals that sends, when we can stand at a police officer’s funeral and talk about how important our officers are, and yet it’s okay to leave people in that kind of facility.”
(Rhynhart:) “I don’t think we’re saying it’s okay.”
(Clarke:) “Well, if you don’t do anything about it, then you’re saying it’s not important.”
And he noted with frustration that he has been asking about the state of the 22nd District station since the Nutter administration began, in 2008.
(Clarke:) “It’s not like I haven’t been talking about this for a while. I ask you about it every year, and you just blow me off.”
(Rhynhart:) “We’re not blowing you off. I’m sorry that you’re taking it that way.”
(Clarke:) “Yes you are.”
(Rhynhart:) “I’m not.”
Rhynhart said that in addition to the $16 million for short-term repairs, $1 million has been set aside to create a “master plan” for the long-term renovation of police and fire stations — a plan that will be passed on to the next mayor.