Northeast Times

Neighbors say ‘NO!’ to methadone clinic

Ten­ants are mum about Heal­ing Way fa­cil­ity, but they have ap­plied to Har­ris­burg for a per­mit to dis­pense meth­adone.

Nobody, it seems, wants the agency Heal­ing Way to open a meth­adone clin­ic at 7900-04 Frank­ford Ave., not even the build­ing own­er who is leas­ing space.

About 250 people ral­lied against the pro­posed clin­ic on Ju­ly 19.

A day later, state Reps. Kev­in Boyle and Mike McGee­han and an aide to state Sen. Mike Stack met in Boyle’s Har­ris­burg of­fice with rep­res­ent­at­ives of the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Health.

On this past Tues­day night, after the Times went to press with this week’s is­sue, a com­munity meet­ing was sched­uled to be held at Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School.

Mean­while, build­ing own­er Den­nis Kulp — the long­time broker/own­er of RE/MAX East­ern — in­sisted he did not know that Heal­ing Way planned to open the clin­ic, which would dis­pense a power­ful li­quid dose of meth­adone to wean people off drugs.

“I had no clue that was their in­ten­tion. I cer­tainly wouldn’t put a busi­ness like that in my build­ing,” he said.

“I’ve been try­ing to break the lease, but it’s a dif­fi­cult thing to do.”

Kulp has offered to give Heal­ing Way a re­fund.

“I told them to give me a num­ber,” he said.

The Re­altor has not re­ceived a re­sponse. He would not dis­close the monthly rent on the 4,830-square-foot site. An es­tim­ated $100,000 in renov­a­tions has been made to the in­teri­or.

Kulp said he was ap­proached in Janu­ary by people in­ter­ested in open­ing a med­ic­al fa­cil­ity. He didn’t ask for spe­cif­ics on the use, ex­plain­ing that he was just happy to have a ten­ant for a site that has been va­cant since the Last Call bar closed in 2008, fol­low­ing a shoot­ing out­side the es­tab­lish­ment.

The busi­ness­man ad­ded that the op­er­at­ors didn’t of­fer any in­form­a­tion on their plans.

ZON­ING PER­MITS CLIN­IC

The prop­erty is zoned C-2, which al­lows a meth­adone clin­ic, as long as there are no overnight stays.

A month or so ago, a Dec­atur Street neigh­bor con­tac­ted the of­fice of City Coun­cil­wo­man Joan Kra­jew­ski (D-6th dist.) about the pro­pos­al. The city De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions had is­sued per­mits on Jan. 11, but it wasn’t un­til two weeks ago that Heal­ing Way ap­plied to the state’s health de­part­ment for ap­prov­al of a meth­adone clin­ic.

“That’s when I be­came aware of it,” said Kulp, whose of­fice win­dows fea­tured signs pro­mot­ing the com­munity meet­ing at Lin­coln.

The ex­ist­ing prop­erty in­cludes the RE/MAX of­fice, which has been there since 1979. The of­fices for the North Star Elec­tric Sup­ply Co. are on Dec­atur Street. There are 11 apart­ments on the second floor of the build­ing.

Kulp labeled as “ludicrous” any sug­ges­tion that apart­ment leases are not be­ing re­newed to cre­ate more room for the clin­ic.

Not all neigh­bors are buy­ing it.

A fli­er pro­mot­ing the Lin­coln meet­ing screams, “Is RE/MAX ru­in­ing our neigh­bor­hoods? Tell RE/MAX to knock it off!!!” A wo­man car­ried a sign that read, “Own­er Den­nis Kulp, break the lease. Don’t turn our neigh­bor­hood in­to a slum.”

As for the planned op­er­at­ors, they are re­main­ing quiet. Their King of Prus­sia law­yer isn’t talk­ing either.

The en­tre­pren­eurs are said to be two mar­ried Bucks County couples, one liv­ing in Rich­boro and the oth­er in Feasterville. They ap­par­ently own a gold store in Cen­ter City.

The clin­ic open­ing is not im­min­ent. A state health de­part­ment spokes­wo­man ex­plained that the op­er­at­ors would have to con­tact two fed­er­al agen­cies, fol­lowed by an on-site in­spec­tion.

In ad­di­tion, Kra­jew­ski has ar­ranged an Aug. 31 hear­ing in front of the city Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment to at least get Heal­ing Way on the re­cord with its plans.

THEY’RE UNITED IN PROTEST

Neigh­bors op­pos­ing a meth­adone clin­ic cite its prox­im­ity to nearby schools, churches and child-care cen­ters.

“We don’t want drug deal­ers in our neigh­bor­hood,” said Aldine Street res­id­ent Milt Mar­telack.

At the Ju­ly 19 protest, Mar­telack stood in the bed of a parked pickup truck and led the crowd in chants of “Say no to meth­adone” and “Just say no.”

Mar­telack is a mem­ber of the Ta­cony/Holmes­burg/Up­per May­fair Town Watch. His fears in­clude everything from cli­ents ur­in­at­ing on build­ings to sleep­ing in bushes to rob­bing loc­al busi­nesses to go­ing “bal­list­ic.”

“Stat­ist­ics prove that these people are un­stable,” he said.

Boyle, the state law­maker whose dis­trict in­cludes the pro­posed site, faul­ted Heal­ing Way for fail­ing to meet with com­munity groups and elec­ted of­fi­cials. Also, he noted the lack of on-site park­ing at the fa­cil­ity, sug­gest­ing that could be in vi­ol­a­tion of C-2 zon­ing.

“I can’t think of a worse loc­a­tion for a nar­cot­ics treat­ment fa­cil­ity,” he said.

The May­fair and Holmes­burg civic as­so­ci­ations, headed by pres­id­ents Joe De­Fe­lice and Fred Moore, are lead­ing the op­pos­i­tion. They’ve re­ceived sup­port from Kra­jew­ski, Boyle, McGee­han, Stack and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

City Coun­cil can­did­ates Joe Mc­Col­gan, Bobby Hen­on and Sandra Stew­art at­ten­ded the protest rally.

The pub­lic of­fi­cials cri­ti­cized Heal­ing Way for what they see as a lack of trans­par­ency.

“They tried to do a secret deal and put it in our back yard,” said Hen­on, who faces Stew­art in Novem­ber’s elec­tions for the right to re­place the re­tir­ing Kra­jew­ski.

John McNesby, pres­id­ent of Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5, told the crowd that the av­er­age re­sponse time in the busy and ex­pans­ive 15th Po­lice Dis­trict for a non-pri­or­ity crime is two to three hours.

“You put a clin­ic here, you’re go­ing to wait a lot longer,” he said.

THERE GOES NEIGH­BOR­HOOD?

The Mor­rell Park Civic As­so­ci­ation and Town Watch and the Great­er Bustleton Civic League have also weighed in against the clin­ic. Hun­dreds of people signed pe­ti­tions at the protest and the next night at the Pennypack Park Mu­sic Fest­iv­al.

Even Win­nie the Pooh showed up at the protest with a sign that read, “Keep Your Junkie Pooh Away From Our Kids!”

Mi­chael Ka­plan is the own­er of Ka­plan’s fur­niture store, which has been on the 7900 block of Frank­ford Ave. since 1960.

He views the neigh­bor­hood as a good place to live and raise chil­dren, but he can fore­see a ma­jor change in qual­ity of life as cli­ents ar­rive at the clin­ic on pub­lic trans­port­a­tion, he said.

 ldquo;It puts every­one who takes the 66 bus in harm’s way,” said Ka­plan, who e-mailed his ob­jec­tions to May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter.

Linda Lewis, ad­min­is­trat­or of the Holmes­burg Baptist Chris­ti­an Academy, sug­ges­ted that the clin­ic be placed in one of the city pris­ons along State Road.

Two-hun­dred stu­dents in pre-kinder­garten through eighth grade at­tend her school.

“We have chil­dren who stand on this corner wait­ing for the 66,” she said.

Jill Farina, a 13-year-old from Chip­pend­ale Street, said the clin­ic will have a neg­at­ive im­pact on the neigh­bor­hood.

“If we have this meth­adone clin­ic, I don’t know if I’ll feel too safe in my own neigh­bor­hood,” she said.

Dan Re­illy, of Rhawn Street, is call­ing for neigh­bors to pack next month’s zon­ing board hear­ing.

He doesn’t want to see cli­ents lined up out­side the clin­ic all day.

“We have schools galore around here. Lin­coln High School is right up the street,” he said.

“It would change everything.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus