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Manny Citron at Frankford Civic

manny citron

Sanya and Manny at Overington Park

Philly Rising’s Manny Citron introduced his replacement at the Frankford Civic Association meeting on December 5th.  Sanya Brown, graduate of Temple University, has assumed Manny’s coordinator duties at PhillyRising. Manny is moving on to another position in the Philadelphia Managing Director’s office.

Manny has been a constant presence in Frankford at every event over the last two years.  He is a roll up your sleeves and get dirty, kind of guy that you need in PhillyRising and he leaves Frankford a better place.  We look forward to working with Sanya.

Other news at the meeting:

  • Several nuisance bars have been closed on the East side of Torresdale Avenue in the last two months much to the relieve of local residents.
  • Turning Points for Children is opening a local office at 4329 Griscom Street.  The entrance will be on the side where Family Dollar is on Frankford Avenue.  They are the DHS Community Umbrella Agency for the 15th police district.
  • The club at 4721 Oxford Avenue has been closed by L&I.  That is what the white sign with the red strips means on the door.
  • There is some hope that two buildings 4728, 32-34 Griscom, long vacant, may be turned to good use.  There are some legal hurdles that have to be overcome but it could happen and that will transform that intersection.

The next meeting of the Frankford Civic Association will be held on January 9th, 2014.  This is one week later than usual due to the New Years holiday.



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Focus of Frankford: Pete Specos


Pete cooking Thanksgiving dinner at Mater Dolorosa

By: Pat Smiley

There are many concerned citizens and activists in Frankford. There is only one Pete Specos. I have gotten to know Pete much better since St. Joachim Church was closed in June and parishioners started Keep the Faith in Frankford, a nonprofit, to continue the work of the Church and to help the community.

Pete’s knowledge, connections and a real willingness to serve and help in any way he can has made him a vital member as well as a member of the board. But this has only added to the work Pete has done on behalf of our community of Frankford.

A real “grassroots” man, Pete is a Democratic Committeeman and President of the Frankford Civic Association and the Zoning Officer. He is the Treasurer of the PDAC (the 15th District Police District Advisory Council). On November 23rd, Pete and PDAC provided a Thanksgiving Dinner to nearly 150 people that was held in Mater Dolorosa’s hall where local residents were treated to all the trimmings and there were many return visits to the buffet.

Pete coordinates the  PSA1 meetings where the Police meet monthly with area residents to discuss and address their concerns. Recently, the NFCY, (the old “Frankford Y”) has been restored to community use and is undergoing major renovations. Pete is Financial Director of their board.

Lucille Ball said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” I, for one, am very grateful that Pete has been “busy” making Frankford a better place to work and live.

But don’t get the idea that Pete is all work. One of his passions is his very own Christmas Lightshow that’s on display for all those who come by 4287 Orchard St. It was featured on the Christmas TV special Christmas Planet two years ago.

The Christmas Lightshow begins on Thanksgiving night and will be available for all to enjoy through New Year’s Day! Pete, you just can’t help lighting up Frankford!

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Shopping Center Controversary at Frankford Civic

No zoning cases were on the schedule for the Frankford Civic Association meeting on November 7th so the entire meeting was used in discussion of two proposed shopping centers in the area.

Mark Hankin, President of the Hankin Management Company made a presentation on their proposed Shopping Center at the Arsenal.  The shopping center would total 500,000 square feet.  Site preparations has been underway for some time with opening of the initial stage scheduled for late Summer of 2015.  The entrance will be Tacony Street North of Bridge Street.

The last part of the meeting was used to discuss the Shoppes at Wissinoming, another proposed shopping center in the area to be located at Tulip St. and Aramingo Avenue.  Allegations made are that the site is too small for the size of the development, it would create too much traffic for an already congested neighborhood and there are environmental issues.

The 30 residents at the meeting were very interested in the issues raised but noted that the Wissinoming developer was not present to respond to those issues.

Residents interested in hearing both sides of this issue are invited to attend the Frankford Neighborhood Advisory Committee meeting on November 14th at 2nd Baptist Church at 1801 Meadow Street at 7PM.  Both developers have been invited and say they will attend.

Also at the meeting:

  • Police bike patrols are active on the streets close to Frankford Avenue.
  • A license for a club at 4721 Oxford Avenue was denied by L&I.  This location has been opening without a license off and on for several months.

The next Frankford Civic Association meeting will be held on Thursday, December 5th at 7PM at Aria Hospital.



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Focus on Frankford: Gary McLaughlin

When he rose to speak at the Frankford Civic meeting back in April, I did not have the video camera turned on because I was not expecting much from the soft spoken guy sitting over in the corner.  The issue was the zoning variance application for a take-out fried chicken store at the corner of Griscom Street and Oxford Avenue.  McLaughlin opposed the variance and made it clear he was going to do everything in his power to stop it.  He expressed what the crowd of neighbors at that meeting was thinking and helped rouse them to further action.  Neighbors organized and with the help of many parties, the application for the store was withdrawn.

He grew up in North Philly and moved to Frankford and the 4700 block of Griscom Street in 1996.  He was among the first to purchase one of the homes newly rehabbed by the Frankford CDC.  He wanted to own his own home and it was a good price.  He was familiar with Frankford from shopping gary mclaughlinexcursions in his youth and remembered it well.

When he announced to family and friends that he was moving to Frankford, they thought he was crazy.  But as a recent graduate of St. Joe’s University with a BS in Sociology and embarking on a Master’s degree program in gerontology, he was thinking economy.  For the next few years, he worked full time and continued with school and got his MA in 2008.  Since then he has worked as a career services coordinator, career transitions specialist,  job developer, financial counselor, social worker and worked extensively with at-risk youth.

Today, a scant 6 months after that first Frankford Civic Association meeting, McLaughlin is the President of the Frankford Community Development Corporation and active in several other community groups.  He credits Sandra Barry, his neighbor and block captain, with trying to get him involved in community affairs for quite a long time but he was always too busy trying to make a living and get ahead.  That was until fried chicken threatened to destabilize what was then an up and down situation on their block.

For years the block has seen the ebb and flow of drug sales and the violence that comes with that way of life.  However, residents refused to accept the status quo and have set an example of how it can be combated by working with the police.  It is still an ongoing process but the quality of life is getting better.

He was recruited to the board of the CDC shortly after meeting Jason Dawkins, at the zoning hearing for the take-out store.  The CDC was in a period of transition at that time and Dawkins was looking for new board members.  McLaughlin saw that the only way forward was activism at a greater level than before and took a seat on the board.  From there he was elected President and has now had some time to think about the way forward for Frankford.

Forging partnerships with other community organizations, creating volunteer opportunities to get things done, asking residents what they believe is needed in Frankford are all on the horizon for the CDC.

McLaughlin wants people to know that he is not a politician but  “Anything that I can do to improve the life of somebody else, I’m definitely going to do”.  On a personal note, although he loves his two rescue dogs Zoe and Pepper, he wants to have a family at some point in the future.  He is working to make sure there is a better Frankford for them.

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Captain McCloskey at the Frankford Civic

Captain John McCloskey, commander of the 15th police district, spent almost the entire hour of the Frankford Civic association taking questions and giving frank answers.  The Town Hall meeting back on September 19th appears to have activated a lot of people.  There were 38 attending the meeting on Thursday, October 3rd which included many new

  • He apologized for the fact that there were no police at the recent PSA meeting.
  • Slow police response time for 911 calls is a reality which McCloskey says is the result of needing more cops.  7 new officers are due from the next graduating class which will help.  Lower priority goes to quality of life issues so sometimes you are going to wait quite a while before you see an officer.
  • Foot patrols have been cut back due to the lack of manpower.
  • Worth Street between Margaret and Orthodox is a hot spot that is on his list.  Drug activity is ongoing with many out of state cars coming to do business.
  • There has been some improvement on the 4700 block of Griscom due to recent arrests.
  • If you feel you have not bee treated properly by one of his officers, you should contact him directly.  He wants to know.

Some residents who met at the town hall and psa meetings are organizing together on common issues and to support the police.  The group may lobby for more police in the 15th, ask for more video cameras at crime locations, go to SEPTA and the city for better lighting under the el, find out why SEPTA police do not do more patrolling of the area around the el stops, have L&I inspectors go out on weekend inspections with the police of problem bars, etc.

Captain McCloskey says the best thing you can do to help the police is to supply information.  You identity will remain anonymous.  You can call the district at 215-686-3150.  Ask for Captain McCloskey.

The next meeting of the Frankford Civic Association will be on November 7th at 7PM at Aria Hospital.