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Bullets Were Not for Sale in Frankford

There was an uproar yesterday on Facebook about a video of a protest at Alex Ice Cold Beer at 1858 Wakeling Street.

The issue was that the store was selling what appeared to be bullets right in the display with all the other odds and ends they sell besides beer.

That is at the intersection of Wakeling and Valley Streets a few blocks from Whitehall.  The neighbors, to their credit, took their protest to the store.

As it turns out, the bullets were lighters in the shape of bullets.  So, the good news is no bullets.  The bad news is even the idea of bullets in Frankford is insensitive to the community.  They have been withdrawn from sale.  Sign in the door says: “This business does not sell bullets nor promote violence.”

There were some comments on Facebook about how these stores should not even be allowed to operate.  That store would not be in business if it wasn’t supported financially by the community.  People go there and buy stuff.  If they didn’t, it would close.  The bar that previously occupied the premises had a long list of LCB complaints.  Since it changed hands, there have been none.

The owner does not seem to be a Frankford resident and that can be a problem in that he may not be aware of the sensitivity of the issue of violence in the community.  He is now and maybe some dialogue will come of this.  The fact that he may be an immigrant who opened a store in Frankford points out that, apparently, there was nobody in Frankford interested in taking over the property.

Now if we could get some protests going on the corners where the drug dealers do business, we might make some real progress.  Get those guys off the street and our children would no longer have to see drug trafficking going on day by day as if it was normal.  Drug sales are a quality of life issue.  Drug use is the real problem but there is no reason to tolerate drug sales on any corner in any neighborhood.  They can take it elsewhere.

Foulkrod and Griscom, Foulkrod and Frankford, Donuts Queen, Oxford below Leiper, etc., etc., etc.  Everybody knows where they are.

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Everyone Deserves a Fair Chance

Do you or does someone you know have a criminal record?

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) is raising awareness about the City’s Fair Chance Hiring law. The law, previously known as “Ban the Box,” ensures that people with criminal records have a fair chance to get a job in Philadelphia.

According to the National Employment Law Project, an estimated 70 million U.S. adults – nearly 1 in 3 Americans, have a criminal record of arrests or convictions that hinder their job opportunities despite their skills and qualifications.

Click on the flyer below for more information.

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February NAC Zoning Meeting

There will be a Frankford NAC zoning meeting at the CDC, 4667 Paul Street, on Thursday, February 8th at 7 pm. The following properties are up for review:

4943 Penn Street– Zoned RSA-3. Applicant is seeking a variance for a four units in an existing structure

4943 Penn Street from Google Street View

2224 Orthodox Street– Zoned as CMX-2 Applicant is seeking a variance to change the usage to a residential single family dwelling with interior parking.   * ZBA granted in 1956 a variance for a single family dwelling and beer distributor.

2224 Orthodox Street from Google Street View

1540 Womrath Street– Zoned as RSA-5 Conversion of a single family dwelling into a three dwelling unit.

1540 Womrath Street from Google Street View

4512 Tackawanna Street– Zoned as RSA-5 Applicant is seeking a variance to change it from single family to duplex.

4512 Tackawanna Street from Google Street View

4122 Kensington Avenue– Zoned as CMX-2 Applicant is seeking a variance to have welding (General Industrial) in Space B and an auto mechanic shop with spray painting in space A in the same building with existing rooming units.

4122 Kensington Avenue from Google Street View

You must be a resident to vote.

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Frankford 2017 Year in Review

Overall it was a good year.  In some respects it was a great year.

The Globe Dye Works over on Worth Street continues to attract new small businesses and it is one of the most successful examples of IRMX zoning (Industrial Residential Mixed use) in the city.  When I first heard this idea it seemed kind of crazy.  Who wants to live in an old building where they work in Frankford.  There are more than 30 commercial tenants, including 19 who also live in the property.  Current tenants include painters, photographers, floral designers, a cabinet maker, a potter, boat builders, a metal sculptor, a classic automobile broker, a tattoo artist, a creamery, a guacamole maker, a coffee roaster and a caterer, among many other users.

State Senator Christine Tartaglione and State Representative Jason Dawkins presented a check for a $1,000,000 Pennsylvania capital grant to the owners on January 10th. The RACP grant will support the final phase of Globe Dye’s restoration, including the expansion of a special events space and the remodeling of office and manufacturing spaces.

Verizon Wireless opened a new store Foulkrod and Frankford replacing the former Frankford Deli.  Nana’s Day Care on Oxford Avenue and Artisan Smiles on Frankford Avenue (dental office) are both under construction and the Shoppes at Wissinoming at Tulip and Bridge Street will bring a new ShopRite and several new stores to the area.

The Daral Building, against all odds, has been completely rehabbed by the Frankford Community Development Corporation.  It seemed like a long shot but a great idea.  To stake a claim to a spot in the heart of Frankford and restore and occupy it.  It cost a lot of money and that money had to be raised, a piece at a time.  Kim Washington and the CDC cobbled that financing together and the building is done.  The vision became a reality.  Congratulations to all on a job well done.

The Daral Building, 4667 Paul Street

What seemed even more improbable was the idea of a park in the center of Frankford.  What started out as a pop up temporary park, morphed into the Frankford Pause.  The concept came right out of a series of focus group meetings with Frankford residents sitting around talking about what they would like to see.  Then the professionals got to work to see what could be done.  The result is there on Paul Street, right next to the Daral Building.  Completion of the concept still has a few steps to go but the park itself is ready to be used.

Frankford Pause under construction

Food Truck Fridays were sponsored by the Frankford CDC and brought some new life to the 4600 block of Paul Street during the Summer.  That was despite the reconstruction of the Arrott Transportation Center that closed off blocks of Frankford Avenue for days at a time.

The Arrott Transportation Center reconstruction moved ahead at what seemed like a ponderously slow pace but it is a huge job and light is at the end of the tunnel.  Construction is scheduled to be finished this year.

Photo courtesy of SEPTA

Regulatory progress that will help the quality of life came through at the end of the year.  A controversial bill in City Council that will begin regulating Stop and Go stores that sell beer and liquor was passed.  Some of these stores and the problems they attract are a flash point for crime.  State Representative Jason Dawkins also managed to get regulation of recovery houses through the State Government.  Both of those bills address issues that have plagued the city for years.   They will not solve all the problems but it is a step in the right direction and a sign that somebody has finally listened to the neighborhoods.

Northwood Civic Association took the lead in conservatorship in Frankford.  They worked with a nonprofit builder to take possession of a house at Oxford Avenue and Wakeling Street that had been left to deteriorate by the bank who had taken ownership and left if neglected.  After a year of legal haggling, conservatorship was awarded, and the house will be rehabbed and sold to a new single-family owner.

Squatters were in the news and a situation that developed in Northwood lead to legislation that will make it easier for owners to retake the property and prosecute the offenders.

Northwood Civic took on the Castor Avenue Speedway and got some results.  Some new stop signs and some traffic calming measures have slowed down the traffic somewhat.

The Boys and Girls Club in Kinsey Street rebuilding has been going on all year long and it looks great.  We will be doing a special tour this month to show you how it all turned out.

There was a new charter school application by Qor Charter School for the old St. Joachim school building.  Since Sankofa left, the building has been vacant, and it will be good to see it occupied.  It would also be good to have another school choice for our families.

The Malankara Church relocated from their building at Penn and Orthodox to a new location farther up in the Northeast.  Frankford Friends School purchased the building and turned it into the Frankford Friends School Annex.  The Annex is now home to a multi-purpose room for performances and physical education classes in addition to theater, music, and library/Lower School Spanish classrooms. Frankford Friends had doubled its footprint over the last few years which is a good thing and helps to stabilize the area around the school and Meeting House.

Photo from Frankford Friends School Facebook

Frankford’s oldest house at 1548 Adams Avenue has new owner who promises to care for it.  It had been in limbo with owner taking care of it.

1548 Adams Avenue

Lenny Jaynes, noted poet in Frankford, began publishing his work in the Frankford Gazette and the Frankford Gazette turned 10 years old in May.

Crime overall went down.  Aggravated assault, burglary and theft are the lowest they have been since we began tracking in 2013.  Firearm crime is about at the level of 2013 with 179 incidents.  Robbery has continued its decline since 2013 with 247, up slightly since last year.  91 arrests for weapons violations is a record and is 38% higher than in 2013.  That is good news because those guns are off the street and may help explain why crime with firearms has declined.

Business is not booming on Frankford Avenue.  There are some good businesses there but there are too many vacancies and few places where you can sit down for a bite to eat.

There are no new market rate housing projects in the works.  Everything proposed for housing has been either senior or veterans subsidized housing.  There is a need for those but for the community to grow we need new middle-class folks moving in.

Homicide is back up to the height it reached in 2016 when 12 people died in PSA1.  It is up in the city overall.  Other crime is down overall as well.  Drugs is a big driving factor.

That is all for this year.

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Offering Rehabilitation Services That Respects the Individual; Not Just the Law

We attended the press conference concerning one of our area’s needs – tighter regulations and control over the recovery facilities which we know are very plentiful in the Frankford area. The press conference was held at the offices of State Representative Jason Dawkins in the Daral Building, 4667 Paul St., 19124 on Tuesday, December 19.

State Representative Angel Cruz was also there as both Jason and he were instrumental in forming what would become SB 446 which amends the Administrative Code to require the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to license or certify drug and alcohol recovery houses which receive public funding.

Together, with State Representative Aaron Kaufer these “bills” (ideas) became amendments that were added to SB 446 that State Senator Thomas McGarrigle will introduce for Senate hearings.

State Representative Cruz explained that benefits should only be used by facilities who respect those in need of recovery services. Sometimes facilities use single family homes that don’t have enough space for those they claim they want to help. Safe havens is what is needed, says Cruz.

State Representative Dawkins acknowledged that this is an ongoing effort. We first have to define what is a recovery house? Dawkins also made the analogy that homicides by overdose has increased in the last four years and overshadows even the deaths we are seeing due to gun violence. He was pleased his colleagues wanted to address these issues and was happy to work with them. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance is important as well.

We know and see this epidemic, a scourge that is taking the lives of our people, especially the young, and must treat it as the disease it is. Once you contract, it is so very, very hard to escape its grasp. No one should be profiting. It’s time for tighter regulations. Thank you to St. Reps. Jason Dawkins and Angel Cruz for taking steps to bring this topic into the light to improve services to those in need of them. That is simply what it’s all about!

Stephanie Scully, CEO and Founder of the Joy of Living Recovery Program, is held in high esteem here in Frankford. Establishing her first recovery home in 2005, she now oversees 10 facilities. The Joy of Living Recovery Program focuses on providing a safe haven where those seeking rehabilitation feel secure, learn how to structure their days and discover that the “joy” you find in helping others becomes a large part of your own “joy”. The Joy of Living Recovery Program provides volunteers all the time and is willing to support the community whenever and wherever there is a need. We can attest to their great generosity of heart. We had a chance to talk with Stephanie after the press conference. Thank you, Stephanie, your staff and residents for lifting Frankford up each and every day! May you continue to be even more successful in 2018.

 

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