The state Supreme Court has decided against exercising its King's Bench jurisdiction to hear fast-tracked arguments over Fox Chase Cancer Center's desire to expand its campus onto several acres of Burholme Park in Northeast Philadelphia.
The court denied Fox Chase's application for extraordinary relief under King's Bench jurisdiction in In re Estate of Robert W. Ryerss, Deceased in a per curiam order issued Thursday. Fox Chase is appealing Philadelphia Orphans' Court Judge John W. Herron's decision to deny Fox Chase's and the city of Philadelphia's application to let Fox Chase sublease a portion of the park in order to expand its highly trafficked medical facility.
"While we were disappointed in the court's ruling, we have preserved our right to pursue the more traditional court process with the Commonwealth Court process," said Tim Spreitzer, a Fox Chase spokesman. "We continue to believe expansion is critical to Fox Chase's ability to save lives, develop new treatments for cancer and provide thousands of good-paying jobs for local residents."
Spreitzer said Fox Chase's board and leadership is evaluating whether the pursuit of an appeal, splitting the campus up, relocating the campus, or expanding the center "within our existing footprint" would be the best course of action to expand the medical campus. Fox Chase says its current campus is too small to accommodate its growing patient load and can only grow in its current site by expanding into the park.
Besides pursuing the appeal, the other three options involve significant issues of cost and disruption, Spreitzer said.
Samuel C. Stretton, a West Chester, Pa., solo practitioner who represents the group of residents who are fighting the expansion into the park, said it was favorable to the anti-expansion advocates for the Supreme Court to decide against taking the case out of order.
He said there is no reason that support for keeping the park as it is and support for expanding Fox Chase are mutually exclusive as long as Fox Chase just expands a few blocks away.
"There's no reason why the love for the park and the desire to preserve the park and the respect for Fox Chase Cancer Center are mutually at opposite ends," Stretton said. "There's no reason that both can't exist."
By Amaris Elliott-Engel Of the Legal Staff