Dan Savage Responds to Councilwoman Maria-Quinonez Sanchez

Back in February I posted a bit about the recovery house issue.  It was the one year anniversary since the town hall meeting called to discuss the issue and the promise made to return to the community had not been fulfilled. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez offered a response which I posted here.

Recently I was contacted by Dan Savage, our former Councilman, with some words of clarification.  They follow in full below.

As a life long resident of Frankford, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

Frankford is my passion. I went to grade school at St. Joachim’s and learned to play basketball at the Deni Basketball Courts. I played at Overington Park and my friends played football for the Frankford Chargers at Whitehall which is now known as Gambrel Recreation Center.  After school, I would walk up Frankford Avenue. I would stop at Schwartz’s Pretzels or get a slice of pizza at Leandro’s with my friends. Sometimes I would stop for a haircut at Lorenzo’s where I still get my haircut today.

I have great memories of Frankford and wish for brighter days for the neighborhood my family has lived in for 4 generations.

For 13 months, I had the privilege and opportunity to serve the people of Frankford from November 27, 2006 to January 7, 2008 as Councilman. The first minute I got in office, I used the resources available to a Councilperson to fight for Frankford.

I was the Councilman who had the basketball courts remilled and color coated at Deni Playground because I wanted the kids to enjoy Deni like I did. I had over $1.6 million (on top of the $1.3 million I helped get donated for Operation Field Rescue) put into Gambrel Recreation Center because the Frankford Chargers deserved a better home.  I placed over $93,000 into the restoration of the historic stonewall at Overington Park because I am invested in the neighborhood. In addition, I had new basketball backboards and swings installed as well as the fencing fixed at Wilmot Park (known as the “The Square” to people in the neighborhood).

I allocated $1 million to the Frankford Avenue Business Corridor to help revitalize the avenue. Councilwoman Sanchez moved that money the first month in her term. In addition, she introduced a bill in Council to terminate the Frankford Special Services District. I allocated $450,000 and already had landscape architects working on putting a spraypark at the old tennis courts at Deni Playground. Councilwoman Sanchez moved that money from Frankford.

When it comes to recovery houses, I fought them before I was in Council, during my term, and even today. Mayor Rendell brought us recovery houses in 1995.  Please see below the excerpt from the DBH website.

In 1995, the Philadelphia Coordinating Office for Drug and Alcohol Abuse Programs (now known as the Office of Addiction Services) established a recovery house system for persons enrolled in state-licensed outpatient substance abuse programs. The goal was to improve treatment outcomes by placing people in a positive, stable living environment that is conducive to recovery. (http://www.dbhmrs.org/recovery-house-initiative )

This is a laudable goal. Unfortunately, because there is a lack of adequate control and monitoring, these recovery houses create problems for the stability and welfare of the communities where they are placed.

If recovery houses or drug treatment centers do not have to go before the Zoning Board, they can only be stopped by the Administration (Dept. of Behavioral Health/Office of Addiction Services). It has to come from the top.

After reading the response of Councilwoman Sanchez to your article regarding the recovery houses, I felt compelled to set the record straight. This is not the first time Councilwoman Sanchez has taken credit for the works of other people in Frankford. The bottom line is she did not come through on her plans for the “recovery task force”. At the end of her long response, she still did not address your initial concern. Instead, she took it as an opportunity to run off a laundry list of good things that happened in Frankford. Unfortunately, she had nothing or very little to do with any of them.

Daniel J. Savage