Frankford: When you see druggies, who ya gonna call?


“Call 911 and keep call­ing,” Al Mitchell said at last week’s Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing.

The board mem­ber was giv­ing that ad­vice to three res­id­ents of the 4700 block of Griscom St. who said drug deal­ing was a huge prob­lem that was get­ting worse.

They com­plained that deal­ers are go­ing in­to one house to hide from po­lice and stash­ing their drugs un­der an­oth­er prop­erty’s porch. They said they’ve seen many out-of-state li­cense plates on cars parked on their street.

“They come from New Jer­sey, Hel­sinki, wherever,” said Sandra Barry.

Mitchell and oth­er mem­bers who were meet­ing at May 3 in Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus con­fer­ence room told the three wo­men that the more they re­port drug deal­ing in their neigh­bor­hood, the lar­ger a re­cord po­lice have. The ad­di­tion­al re­ports would give po­lice more reas­ons to keep an eye on the block and on the people they see, Mitchell said.

He said they should try to give 911 op­er­at­ors as much in­form­a­tion as they can: time of day, de­scrip­tions and li­cense-plate num­bers.

He also sug­ges­ted the wo­men at­tend an up­com­ing meet­ing of the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict’s Pub­lic Ser­vice Area 1 to talk dir­ectly to the lieu­ten­ant who su­per­vises patrols in their neigh­bor­hood. That meet­ing is set for 7 p.m. on Tues­day, May 22, in the same hos­pit­al con­fer­ence room, 4900 Frank­ford Ave. PSA meet­ings are char­ac­ter­ized by ex­changes of in­form­a­tion between po­lice and res­id­ents.

Tracy O’Drain, man­aging dir­ect­or of the Frank­ford Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Corp., said she has been hear­ing com­plaints about the block, which in­ter­sects Ar­rott Street, since she began work­ing in Frank­ford in 2004.

“It’s been non-stop,” she said in an in­ter­view.

“We clean up this corner, the whole neigh­bor­hood will be bet­ter,” said Edgardo Gonza­lez, an aide to state Rep. Tony Payton Jr. (D-179th dist.).

There are 35 prop­er­ties on the street, some of which are owned by the city, the city’s Re­devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity and a few out-of-town­ers, ac­cord­ing to the city’s on­line prop­erty re­cords. The block is close to the SEPTA ter­min­al at Frank­ford and Ar­rott.

The CDC owns a prop­erty on that block that, un­til re­cently, had been oc­cu­pied by a squat­ter. The man re­cently was ar­res­ted on an un­re­lated charge, she said, which en­ables the or­gan­iz­a­tion to have the prop­erty sealed. O’Drain ex­pec­ted that to be done this week.

Board mem­ber Al Rose later dir­ec­ted the con­ver­sa­tion to the oth­er side of Frank­ford Av­en­ue, ask­ing what can be done to end an il­leg­al flea mar­ket that has sprung up on Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue in the last few years and has been grow­ing, in space and time.

Rose said il­leg­al open-air street-vend­ing runs along Tor­res­dale on the blocks near the av­en­ue’s in­ter­sec­tion with Kin­sey Street. He said he be­lieves the vendors, some of whom sell food, don’t have per­mits to be there, but there are oth­er prob­lems, the worst of which in­volve san­it­a­tion and traffic ac­ci­dents.

Rose and oth­ers at the civic as­so­ci­ation meet­ing said the flea mar­ket op­er­ates on week­ends, but O’Drain said vendors can be seen bey­ond Sat­urdays and Sundays.

“As long as nobody stops them, they will con­tin­ue to do it,” she said. “They’ll be out there all week if it’s nice.”

Manny Cit­ron, an as­sist­ant city man­aging dir­ect­or, said com­plaints about the vendors should be phoned in to the city’s 311 sys­tem. Each caller is giv­en a code for his or her com­plaint so it can be checked on later. The caller is told what the tar­get time will be for ac­tion on that com­plaint. A 311 op­er­at­or will then refer the com­plaint to the ap­pro­pri­ate city agency.

Some Frank­ford res­id­ents are 311 li­ais­ons and have bet­ter ac­cess to the 311 sys­tem, he said. For ex­ample, Pete Specos, the civic as­so­ci­ation’s pres­id­ent and zon­ing of­ficer, is a 311 li­ais­on.

Li­ais­ons have “ex­pan­ded abil­it­ies” with 311 after spe­cial train­ing, Cit­ron said. They can log on to their own ac­counts every day to enter com­plaints or to track them, Cit­ron said.

Cit­ron, who works with the city’s Phil­lyR­ising pro­gram, said it is spon­sor­ing a sum­mer camp expo at the Gam­brel Re­cre­ation Cen­ter from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sat­urday, May 19. At­tendees can get in­form­a­tion about sum­mer camp pro­grams for their chil­dren that are in­ex­pens­ive or free.

The civic as­so­ci­ation will next meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, at Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus, 4900 Frank­ford Ave. ••


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