Construction workers are busy building the Ocean City Housing Authority’s new project for senior citizens. By DONALD WITTKOWSKIThe corner of Sixth Street and West Avenue is bustling with activity. The site is crowded with construction workers wearing hard hats, giant excavators digging into the ground and mini-mountains of dirt.In the planning stages for about five years, construction has started on a $6.8 million affordable housing project for senior citizens who are now living in a flood-prone neighborhood of Ocean City.The 32-unit Speitel Commons project is being built by the Ocean City Housing Authority next to the agency’s Bayview Manor housing complex at Sixth and West.Completion is expected to take about 12 months. City Councilman Bob Barr, who also serves as the housing authority’s chairman, said a grand opening is scheduled for June 2021, assuming there are no delays caused by inclement weather or the coronavirus pandemic.Social distancing requirements during the pandemic forced the authority to cancel plans for a formal groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction. But work has begun without any glitches, Barr indicated.“We intend to open next year,” he said in an interview Monday. “The intention is to have a June 2021 opening.”Senior citizens who now live in the authority’s flood-prone Pecks Beach Village housing complex on Fourth Street will be moved over to the new project when it is completed.Barr noted that the seniors will no longer have to worry about getting stuck in the flooding that occurs at Pecks Beach Village not only during strong storms, but even when there is just heavy rain.Pecks Beach Village, located on a section of Fourth Street prone to flooding, will be demolished after the new Speitel Commons housing complex is built.Pecks Beach Village, a collection of modest cottage-style homes, was built in the 1960s at a time when affordable housing projects were designed in “cookie cutter” fashion, Barr pointed out.“Ed and the rest of us were never happy with the way these buildings were designed and looked,” he said.Barr was referring to the late Edmond C. Speitel Sr., a former housing authority commissioner. Speitel, who was chairman of the authority’s finance and redevelopment committees, helped to oversee the new project from the conceptual phase. The building will be named in his honor.In dramatic contrast to Pecks Beach Village, Speitel Commons will be an attractive building that will add to the vibrancy of Ocean City’s downtown business district, Barr said.Moreover, the project will reflect the type of comfortable housing that the city’s senior citizen population deserves, he emphasized.“It’s making the residents feel that they are part of the community and are no different than anyone else,” Barr said.In 2019, City Council approved a $6.6 million bond ordinance to build or rehabilitate affordable housing sites for senior citizens and low-income families. The projects will help Ocean City meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing as part of a court settlement in 2018.The city is expected to contribute more than $2 million toward the Speitel Commons project. The New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency is providing $4.5 million in funding.A big excavator sits on a mound of dirt in front of the Bayview Manor housing complex during construction on the Speitel Commons project.The senior citizens portion of Pecks Beach Village, located on the north side of Fourth Street, will be torn down when Speitel Commons is completed. The housing authority has set aside $200,000 for demolition work.Pecks Beach Village also includes affordable housing for low-income families. The 40 family units are located on the south side of Fourth Street. The family units will stay for the time being, although there are longer-range plans to replace them with new housing construction.Barr said there is a possibility that the housing authority may accelerate plans to build the new family units. He added that discussions continue and there is no firm timetable.“It’s on the drawing board,” he said. “It may not be possible. But if we could pull it off, if we can do it with the mayor, who’s been a great partner of ours, we’ll do it,” Barr said, referring to the housing authority and Mayor Jay Gillian working together.The authority had been expected to start renovating the rooms at Bayview Manor this year, but has delayed those plans because of the pandemic. Bayview Manor is another affordable housing complex for senior citizens.Barr said the authority did not want to possibly jeopardize the health of the senior citizens at Bayview Manor by having construction crews enter the building during the pandemic, so a decision was made to put the renovations on hold.“The No. 1 priority of all that we do is the health and safety of all of our residents,” he said. “We have to be ultra-careful when it comes to that.”With the Bayview Manor renovations being postponed, the housing authority has begun exploring the possibility of speeding up the construction of the new family units at Pecks Beach Village.The Ocean City Housing Authority’s Speitel Commons at Bayview Manor project will include 32 units of affordable housing for senior citizens. (Rendering courtesy of Haley Donovan architectural firm)
Coach Tommy Amaker says he couldn’t have predicted the success of the first-place Harvard men’s basketball team. On the other hand, he’s not surprised by it either.“We’re building a program based on a sound structure, vision, and style of play,” he said. “It’s hard to say what we thought our record would be after losing the best player in the Ivy League, but we did believe that we had a chance to continue to grow.”Last year, Amaker’s squad won 21 games, the most in the history of Harvard’s men’s basketball program, and was in the hunt for the Ivy League championship through the final weeks of the season. This year, the Crimson are better. At 21-5, the team has already equaled last year’s win total and, entering the final weekend of the season, has a chance to clinch its first Ivy crown and NCAA tournament berth.Most fans probably wouldn’t have predicted such improvement after the graduation of star guard Jeremy Lin ’10, the first player in the history of the league to record at least 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists, and 200 steals. Lin is now playing in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors. To make matters worse, junior forward Keith Wright sprained his knee in June, an injury that required extensive rehabilitation and kept him off the court for months.“The doctor thought I had torn my anterior cruciate ligament,” Wright said. “I was prepared to sit out the season. Fortunately, it was just a sprain and stress fracture.”The team welcomed Wright back to action weeks before the start of the season, only to experience another setback. Kyle Casey, last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, broke his foot, sidelining him for training camp and the first month of the regular season.“It was devastating when Kyle got hurt,” Amaker said. “We didn’t have him for the first four or five games. Then he had to get his conditioning and timing back. It’s only in the last month that he’s rounded into the player he was last year.”Instead of folding, the Crimson made overcoming adversity their defining characteristic. On a team with no seniors and only three juniors, freshman and sophomore players made big contributions. Amaker said the efforts of lesser-known players such as junior Oliver McNally and sophomores Christian Webster and Brandyn Curry kept the team afloat early in the season.“McNally is our vocal leader,” he said. “Webster is quiet and efficient. He hit the game-winning shot against Bryant, then scored a career high at Mercer. These were big road wins for us early on. And Brandyn not only sets the tone for us defensively, but he’s also leading the conference in assists. He makes everyone around him better.”Wright even turned his injury into a positive. Unable to prepare for the season by playing basketball, he embraced the team’s strength and conditioning programs. As a result, Wright’s scoring and rebounding numbers have nearly doubled, from 8.9 points per game (PPG) and 4.6 rebounds per game (RPG) in 2009-10, to 15.3 PPG and 8.4 RPG this year.“I felt extra motivation to work hard in the weight room,” Wright said. “I felt like I just owed it to the guys. I wanted to have a big year and to be part of the team’s success.”The team lost the first game of the season to Colonial Athletic Association powerhouse George Mason, then ripped off five straight wins. Casey returned, and the team went on a 10-2 run, losing only to perennial NCAA heavyweights Michigan and Connecticut. Then came an away game against Ivy League nemesis Princeton, a 65-61 loss.“We had mental lapses and didn’t finish some plays, some passes, and some of our possessions,” said Casey, lamenting an early lead that slipped away and a comeback that fell short.The Crimson bounced back strongly on Feb. 12 with its most uplifting win of the season at home against a surprisingly strong Brown squad. Down by as much as 24 points early in the second half, Harvard rallied and won going away, 85-78. The victory was the team’s 15th straight win at home, and tied a team record.“We talked about how much fun it could be to come back and make this win a part of our story,” Amaker said of the conversation he had with his team at halftime. “So we inched our way back. We played in three- to four-minute segments, and then stuck our heads up to see where we were. We cut their lead to 16, then to 10. You could see our confidence growing. It was really the defining moment of the season.”Now, another defining moment is on the horizon. Harvard ends the season at home on Saturday (March 5). The opponent? It’s Princeton, currently a half game ahead in the Ivy League standings. With a win, the Crimson would tie the Tigers for first place and force a one game playoff to determine which team goes to the NCAA tournament.Casey said he and his teammates know what a league title would mean for Harvard fans and for the basketball program, but are staying focused and taking things in stride.“We came here to do something very special, something that’s never been done,” he said. “We’ve been working hard as a team. If we stay focused on what we need to do, we’ll reach the destination. We don’t look at it as expectations. We look at it as destiny.”In one of the most anticipated men’s basketball games in Harvard history, the Crimson game against Princeton will be broadcast live from Lavietes Pavilion on March 5 at 7 p.m on ESPN3.com.
Equality, Español, Press Release La Comisión de asuntos para la comunidad LGBTQ de Pennsylvania emitió la siguiente declaración sobre la muerte de Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, una mujer transgénero:“Con tristeza e ira, vemos el fallecimiento prematuro de Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells en Philadelphia. Dominique era una amiga querida para muchos en Philadelphia, donde hizo su hogar. Mantenemos su memoria viva mientras lloramos esta pérdida y celebramos su vida. Sus amigos siempre recordarán su amable sonrisa.“Dominique vivió sin protecciones contra la discriminación en todo el estado, ya que nuestra Asamblea General, singularmente entre sus pares del área, todavía no brinda tales protecciones a la comunidad LGBTQ+. En un mes en el que estamos bajo ataque de la Casa Blanca, es amargo recordar que podríamos estar protegidos por la ley estatal, pero nuestros legisladores han optado por retener estas protecciones básicas. En 1975, Pennsylvania lideró a la nación al convertirse en el primer estado en prohibir la discriminación laboral en el sector público debido a la orientación sexual. ¿Dónde ha ido ese legado de liderazgo en la legislatura?“También nos solidarizamos con la comunidad LGBTQ+ de Ohio, mientras lloran el fallecimiento de Riah Milton, a quien perdieron en un acto de violencia. Desafortunadamente, ni Ohio ni Pennsylvania protegen a sus ciudadanos transgénero ante la alegación de “pánico a los trans”, lo que permite a quienes nos quitan la vida afirmar que nuestra identidad transgénero de alguna manera excusa o mitiga su comportamiento asesino.“Mientras celebramos el Mes del Orgullo, recordamos que muchos de los líderes que comenzaron los disturbios justos que llamamos Stonewall eran mujeres trans negras. También lloramos a las 49 personas asesinadas en la Masacre de Pulse Nightclub el 12 de junio de 2016. Debemos permanecer juntos como comunidad para insistir en los derechos plenos para las personas transgénero y para poner fin a la discriminación contra las personas trans y todas las personas de color.“Recuerden su alegría. Celebren su vida. Digan su nombre”.En una declaración conjunta, los comisionados Ciora Thomas, Celena Morrison y Naiymah Sanchez agregaron:“Despertar en un mundo que no quiere que existamos es horroroso, aún más horroroso, mientras hacemos el importante trabajo de servir a nuestras comunidades trans y no binarias de Pennsylvania.“Dominique no merecía perder la vida. Merecía vivir, desarrollarse y ser próspera en este mundo como lo hacen todas las personas transgéneros y no binarias dentro del Estado de Pennsylvania.“En Pennsylvania, ya hemos perdido a tantas personas trans negras y mestizas debido a la violencia y a la transfobia, y, no se equivoquen, estos son delitos de odio y deben clasificarse como tales.“Las personas trans han estado sufriendo el genocidio en todo este país y dentro de este estado porque nacimos en un sistema sistémico que está configurado intencionalmente para que fallemos y caigamos en manos de otros o de nosotros mismos. Mientras lamentamos otra pérdida en la comunidad trans, quiero resaltar la importancia de continuar unidos y no salir solos.“Nuestra sociedad es responsable de manera colectiva de cada muerte en la comunidad trans negra, y debemos continuar exigiendo que nos reconozcan, nos protejan y que estos delitos de odio contra nuestra comunidad sean erradicados”.View this information in English. June 15, 2020 La Comisión de asuntos para la comunidad LGBTQ de Pennsylvania presenta una declaración sobre la muerte de Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells SHARE Email Facebook Twitter