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New Frankford Community Y Stakeholders Meeting

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.

After an optimistic initial presentation, discussions of the Y’s future turned contentious and questions of legality were raised when the development team proposed to turn the non profit center into a for profit business, with the Northwood Civic voting last month to file a suit in Orphan’s Court to see the past financial records of the center.

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.

Tons of other stuff to note:

  • Apparently being defensive about a rumor I personally started on the message board about them turning the facility into a teen party mecca, they promised no disco, only family style parties and pool parties
  • 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.

New Frankford Y Proposal [PDF]