Sometime, things do work out. What has been a long campaign waged by several neighborhood groups is showing some real results. The groundbreaking for the reconstruction of the Greenwood Estate at Rush Farm was held on Friday, April 30th. It was a beautiful day and a good crowd of the folks who made it all possible was on hand.
The house, located on property once owned by Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush, was recently named Greenwood Estate at Rush Farm. Speakers at the event include Cornel Williams, Manager, Philadelphia Healthcare Properties, Inc., Michelle Mardenborough, President, Greenwood Cemetery, Joanne Clare, Chief Director, Friends of Greenwood, and Barry Howell, President of Northwood Civic Association.
Participating elected officials included State Reps. Anthony Payton and John Taylor, along with City Councilman Daryl Clarke. They were joined by special guest 90-year-old Betty Ewart, who lived in the cemetery caretaker’s house as a young girl, and community leaders, the new cemetery owners and preservation team members. They all worked together in an unprecedented effort to save this beloved but neglected 19th century residence from the wrecker’s ball.
Below you can see a short video of the ceremony and an exclusive look inside the first floor of the house.>
The Northood Civic Association held their monthly meeting last night, April 20th at St. James. A good crowd was on hand.
The Civic has met now met with all political representatives involved and has their support on the issue of the Volunteers of America (VOA) purchase of the house on Roosevelt Boulevard for use as a group home. No compromise is possible and the home must be used as a single family home period. The ball is now in the VOA court.
The lawsuit against Northwood Civic Association by Attorney Guinan has been settled satisfactorily. No further action is to take place on the matter.
Barry Howell reported on the meeting Friday night with New Frankford Developers LLC. His comments are below.
In addition, Felicia Richardson of New Frankford Developers attended the meeting and took the opportunity to speak for a few minutes about plans for the Y. Her comments are below.
The issue of crime came up at the end of the meeting and many of those in attendance had personal experiences to report. Many were relatively minor nuisance crimes that would not usually get a police response. Barry noted however that a call to report the problem should always be made to get it on the record. Pete Specos (Frankford Civic) noted that people should take advantage of the newly implemented PSA meetings to bring these issues directly to the captain. The next PSA (Police Sector Area) meeting for sector 1 is on May 4th at 7PM at the second floor conference room at Aria Frankford.
Barry also noted that there was a flash mob in Northwood last Wednesday, April 14th. Police had been monitoring it and expected it to happen at Roosevelt Mall. No damage or injury was reported.
The Greenwood Cemetery will hold a ground breaking on the restoration of the old farmhouse on Friday, April 30th at 10AM. The pols will be there for picture opportunities. It is a historic building and the public is invited.
The next meeting for the Northwood Civic is on May 18th.
Felicia Richardson of New Frankford Developers Presenting
Friday night my father and I attended a dinner meeting at Gallo’s Friday night for a presentation on the new plan for what is going to happen to the New Frankford Community Y. Among the attendies were democratic ward leader Dan Savage, State Rep Tony Payton Jr and his chief of staff Jorge Santana, representatives from state senator Christine Tartaglione, and counselwoman Sanchez. Francis Clay and Barry Howell from the Frankford and Northwood Civics were also in attendance.
The new proposal, (the main portion is linked at the bottom) has the Y staying a non profit with an infusion of funds from the for profit company New Frankford Developers, which owns an apartment building on the block. Exclusive the benefits to the community, NFD will profit by the management fee they will charge, along with intangibles such as having better neighborhood amenities to offer their tenants.
To ease neighborhood local fears, the Y will have an advisory board composed of members of the community and neighborhood associations and also noted they would not be opposed to signing a written community commitment agreement. As Jorge Santana pointed out, it wouldn’t be a legally binding document, but it would list, in simple terms, the commitment by the Y towards the community it serves.
When questions opened up, there were still issues toward the financial viability of the project, Tony Payton noted that the proposed budget had a high percentage of operating funds from government programs. Presentation leader Felicia Richardson said that it was a best case situation and that funding for many programs had not yet been secured. She said that the minimum opening programs would be the day care and computer centers and that they’d build out from there, she also noted that they’ve already secured a grant writer. Also raised was skepticism of how this plan would work while Terry Tobin was unable to keep operations afloat before. Richardson responded that she has composed a team, while Terry was a one man show.
Barry Howell brought up that they’ve lost a lot of credibility with the Northwood Civic over the financial records issues, but that stated clearly he’s known Terry Tobin a long time and doesn’t believe Terry Tobin was involved with any financial improprieties. Ms Richardson welcomed Mr Howell to investigate the records
they plan on renaming the Y after the late Edward Becker, the former federal appeals judge that once sat on the board. They stated they had already approached his family for permission
The meeting ended well, all parties expressed cautious optimism of the future, with the presenters pledging a fresh start.
Last night’s Northwood Civic Association meeting was a well attended one, by my count upwards of 30 people were there. Among other business, two motions were passed unanimously allowing the civic to file lawsuits. A suit in orphan’s court will be filed against the New Frankford Community Y to force them to open up their finances. Civic president Barry Howell said that on several occasions the NFCY director Terry Toben has declined to explain where the money for the Y has been going for the last ten years. George Santana, Tony Payton’s chief of staff, expressed frustration at not knowing who was on the board of directors, and said they may find very interesting things should the books be opened up. There’s been a dispute over the possible sale of the Y to private investors with the the civic concerned it might be turned into a disco or or club. The civic is very interested in keeping the property maintained as a community center and expressed frustration that several church groups have shown interest in the past without any follow through.
Another motion was carried allowing the civic to move forward with a suit in common pleas court against Volunteers of America for opening up a group rehab in a house at 4871 Roosevelt Blvd, inside Northwood’s deed restricted land. “I don’t care what they call it” Howell said, “it’s a halfway house to me.” He vowed to fight, saying that VOA has stopped any discussion with the civic. Tony Payton was there and expressed strong support for the civic’s work to fight the incroachment. Howell said Payton “really stepped up to the plate.”
Representatives from Juniata and Frankford civic associations were also at the meeting to show support for the halfway house/rehab situation that is affecting Frankford, Juniata and Northwood. Howell said Northwood has laid back for years and it’s time to step up and take action. He looked forward to a joint initiative between the three neighborhoods to engage local government to get their voices heard. He spoke of petitions, and bussing people down to city hall to protest. “Any politician that doesn’t work with us, we’ll work to remove them,” Howell said.
Other items included:
A petition was circulated in favor of traffic lights at Horrocks and Oxford, Howell says there were four accidents in the last year and possibly one fatality
The war monument plaque at Frankford Field at Large and Oxford fell down last Sunday. A representative from the school board came and picked it up to make sure it wasn’t stolen. Howell said they need to stay on top of them to make sure it’s put back up and not forgotten about in a closet for the next 50 years. Questions were raised as to what organization actually owned it.
Tony Payton was there looking for any residents in his district that would sign his petition to get on this May’s ballot.
A seargent with the 15th district talked about the new PSA(police service areas)
At the end of the meeting lurched into a debacle centered on whether it’s appropriate to save your parking space in a snowstorm. The police at the meeting affirmed that it is against ordinance to save parking spaces, but you may have neighbor issues if you take their space
A census representative spoke about how important it is that Frankford’s residents are counted in the upcoming census. He spoke about the many federally funded things that are allocated based on population including education and health care and said that for every person not counted in Philadelphia, the city looses out on something around 4000 dollars. He said that community block grants are given out based on population which means the money given to our CDC is at stake.
The zoning issue at 950 Fillmore St will be held over to another time
The meeting last night on the second floor at Aria Health was well attended despite the cold temperatures.
First issue on the agenda was a zoning issue regarding a house owned by Pastor Richard Smith of the Faith Assembly of God. He is seeking to renew his zoning variance on a property at 1930 Harrison Street to house up to eight men. A number of people from the congregation attended and there was testimony at the meeting of the pastor’s dedication to helping men in need.
Another zoning issue was related to the application to build a storage facility for a contractor at 4205-07 Adams Avenue. This applicant appeared at a previous meeting and the project is moving along.
In regard to the possible sale of the now vacant Frankford Community Y building, Jason Dawkins of Ms. Sanchez staff reports that the issue is still on the table but the attorney for the parties involved say that funding is still not in place. That was the reason why they did not appear at the last Civic meeting.
The issue of the sale of the Salvation Army building has been reported and there has been no change in status. It is significant to note that the Pols offices are both taking a proactive stance in trying to make sure that any sale that does take place will be in the best interests of the community.
The big news at the meeting was revealed by Barry Howell, president of the Northwood Civic Association. He announced that Community Behavioral Health, contracted by the City of Philadelphia, is opening up a recovery house at 4871 Roosevelt Boulevard. This would violate the Burk deed restriction which prohibits use of the property for anything other than a single family residence.
So now the city government has turned on us. The city where you pay taxes is going to war against us.
Barry requested that someone from Frankford Civic attend the Northwood Civic meetings in the future. This fight will require a coordinated effort by by both Civics. Why is this important when there are so many other recovery houses in Frankford? Because there are so many recovery houses in Frankford. There are far more than the number of people in Frankford needing those services.
It’s time again to stand together and so no more. Check out the report on NEastPhilly.com.