Butkovitz pays visit to Holmesburg Civic meeting

City Con­trol­ler Alan Butkovitz last week vis­ited the Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation to dis­cuss two of his re­cently re­leased re­ports.

Earli­er this month, he found de­fi­cien­cies in the 311 non-emer­gency sys­tem. The re­port in­dic­ated that only 7 per­cent of calls were mon­itored and coded.

In ad­di­tion, the re­duc­tion in non-emer­gency calls to 911 was a measly 1.3 per­cent. Bal­timore, San Ant­o­nio, Hou­s­ton and Den­ver all ex­per­i­enced sig­ni­fic­ant re­duc­tions in 911 calls after im­ple­ment­ing a non-emer­gency line.

The Nut­ter ad­min­is­tra­tion, in Butkovitz’s opin­ion, has done little to in­form or edu­cate the pub­lic about 311. The con­trol­ler also poin­ted out that the city has failed to have op­er­at­ors avail­able 24 hours, as prom­ised.

At the meet­ing, Butkovitz gave a pre­view of a fol­low-up audit that was to be re­leased the next day of the city’s emer­gency med­ic­al ser­vices sys­tem.

The widely ac­cep­ted stand­ard is for EMS units to ar­rive at the scene of an emer­gency in less than nine minutes 90 per­cent of the time.

In Phil­adelphia, ac­cord­ing to Butkovitz’s study of 2009 stat­ist­ics, the ar­rival rate was just 63 per­cent. That’s a small im­prove­ment over the 60-per­cent rate in 2007, but far be­low the 77.5-per­cent rate in 2002.

Butkovitz blames over­whelm­ing de­mand. EMS re­quests have in­creased from 165,234 in 1999 to 224,485 in 2009. The num­ber of para­med­ics was 211 in 2009, down from a high of 291 in 2002. 

In oth­er news from the Oct. 11 meet­ing:

Maura Kennedy, dir­ect­or of stra­tegic ini­ti­at­ives for the city De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions, ex­plained that the agency is op­er­at­ing more ef­fi­ciently, from de­mol­ish­ing more build­ings to lower­ing the wait time for in­di­vidu­als and busi­nesses to ob­tain a li­cense.

In ad­di­tion, own­ers of prop­er­ties with non-work­ing win­dows and doors are be­ing fined $300 per day and taken to court after three failed in­spec­tions.

L&I has been suc­cess­ful in col­lect­ing fines and back taxes from ab­sent­ee nuis­ance land­lords.

• The civic as­so­ci­ation voted 18-1 in fa­vor of a bid by At­lantic Tac­tic­al, at 4980 Rhawn St., to gain a vari­ance from the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment to be able to sell fire­arms and am­muni­tion to law en­force­ment mem­bers.

The com­pany has been in busi­ness since 1972 and moved to Rhawn Street after out­grow­ing a re­tail store near State Road and Linden Av­en­ue.

The store is open to the pub­lic. The hours are week­days from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Civic group mem­bers sup­por­ted the com­pany’s ef­fort after of­fi­cials ex­plained that there are 24-hour se­cur­ity sys­tems and cam­er­as. The weapons are kept in vaults to pre­vent smash-and-grab thefts.

Dur­ing busi­ness hours, the em­ploy­ees are armed, as are uni­formed law en­force­ment cus­tom­ers. 

• As the city Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment con­tin­ues to mull ar­gu­ments for and against a pro­posed meth­adone clin­ic at 7900 Frank­ford Ave., the civic as­so­ci­ation re­it­er­ated its stance against open­ing a clin­ic any­where in the neigh­bor­hood.

After news of the pro­pos­al broke in Ju­ly, the ex­ec­ut­ive board voted to op­pose the clin­ic in neigh­bor­hood and in­dus­tri­al areas, such as along State Road.

“We’re stand­ing by our ori­gin­al vote,” said Fred Moore, pres­id­ent of the group. “It isn’t a good idea.”

One man at last week’s meet­ing cri­ti­cized the board’s stance.

“State Road’s a per­fect loc­a­tion,” he said. “Who cares if they go down there.”

Milt Mar­telack, who has led protests against the site, does not want to com­prom­ise by al­low­ing the clin­ic to open in a less-res­id­en­tial area. Meth­adone is dis­pensed to drug ad­dicts to help wean them off drugs.

“We want it out of here totally,” Mar­telack said.

Even if the ZBA sides with the clin­ic op­er­at­ors, state and fed­er­al of­fi­cials would have to give the OK be­fore the busi­ness could open.

“I be­lieve we’re in the driver’s seat,” Moore said.

• Moore is or­gan­iz­ing the North­east Phil­adelphia His­tory Net­work’s his­tory fair on Sat­urday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Cam­pus Cen­ter of Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity, at Frank­ford and Grant av­en­ues.

His­tor­ic­al so­ci­et­ies and com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions will of­fer a his­tory of North­east neigh­bor­hoods. The day will also in­clude live mu­sic and re-en­act­ors.

• The civic as­so­ci­ation will make a con­tri­bu­tion to the 35th an­nu­al May­fair-Holmes­burg Thanks­giv­ing Parade, sched­uled for Sunday, Nov. 20m from noon to 3 p.m. The rain date is Dec. 4.

The parade will travel south on Frank­ford Av­en­ue from Rhawn Street to Knorr Street. At Cottman Av­en­ue, there will be bal­loons artists and face paint­ers, along with ra­dio sta­tion B101.

The theme will be Bring­ing Mu­sic to May­fair. The grand mar­shal will be Ed Kelly, founder of the Pennypack Park Mu­sic Fest­iv­al.

For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-333-2712 or vis­it www.thanks­giv­ing­parade.org

• Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation will meet on Tues­day, Nov. 1, at 7:15 p.m., at Holmes­burg Re­cre­ation Cen­ter, at Dit­man and Rhawn streets. The group usu­ally meets on the second Tues­day of the month, but that falls on Elec­tion Day this year.

Among those sched­uled to ap­pear at the next meet­ing are City Coun­cil can­did­ates Sandra Stew­art, Bobby Hen­on, Al Tauben­ber­ger, Mi­chael Un­ter­mey­er and Denny O’Bri­en and city com­mis­sion­er hope­fuls Al Schmidt and Stephanie Sing­er. ••

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

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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