Hundreds rally in opposition to Holmesburg methadone clinic

As the sun beat down and the skies darkened to the north with the threat of rain Tuesday evening, Milt Martelack stood in the bed of a pickup truck, leading the crowd.

“Just say no to methadone,” the crowd cheered, speaking out against an addiction treatment clinic planned on the avenue by Healing Way, Inc.

Hundreds of people were chanting as cars whizzed up and down Frankford Avenue and police officers reminded those at the rally to stay out of the street. Residents and business owners of Holmesburg, Upper Holmesburg, Mayfair and beyond gathered to rally against the opening of a methadone clinic at 7908 Frankford Ave., across the street from schools and a daycare center.

“Can you imagine having to walk my 18-year-old son to the bus stop?” Sonia Latouche asked. Her son takes the 66 bus to school, waiting for it on the corner of Frankford Avenue and Decatur Street, where the clinic is set to open.

Teachers from Holmesburg Baptist Christian Academy have been fielding calls from worried parents, and business owners worry about drug addicts hanging out on the avenue.

“This thing flew under the radar,” says Mike Kaplan, whose furniture store is just doors away from the clinic site. Kaplan is referring to the permit obtained for the medical facility, which the applicant obtained without making the Holmesburg Civic Association, neighbors or local politicians aware of the plans.

But once they became aware of the plans for the site, the pols formulated plans of their own.

The office of 6th District Councilwoman Joan Krajewski has filed an appeal of the clinic’s permits, and is prepping for a hearing with the Zoning Board next month. Holmesburg’s Patti Vaughn and Melissa Casey will go, donning shirts signed by neighbors expressing their opposition to the clinic.

Wednesday, 172nd District Rep. Kevin Boyle will meet with the state health department. Boye will ask that the clinic’s permit be denied, or at least delayed, and called it a “disgrace” that such a move hasn’t already been made.

Meanwhile, other Northeast civics have pledged their support for Holmesburg. Holme Circle, Morrell Park and Tacony submitted written support earlier this week, expressing their opposition to the opening of a methadone clinic in what Holmesburg Civic President Fred Moore calls the “heart” of the neighborhood.

Coverage Timeline

7/26 meeting at Lincoln HS

7/20 Rep. Kevin Boyle to meet with state health department

7/19 other civic associations pledge support

7/15 Krajewski’s office says it will appeal clinic’s permit

7/13 Rep. Kevin Boyle pens letter to the editor

6/30 HCA member Patti Vaughn contacts NEast Philly about the clinic

“We can’t say we would want [a clinic] anywhere in the neighborhood,” Moore said as the rally died down around 6 :30 p.m.

Moore called 7908 Frankford Ave. an “inappropriate spot,” and not just for the parents, schools and shoppers on the avenue. There is no privacy, he explained of the busy corridor, and the property itself, which hosts 11 residential units above the proposed clinic site. Those seeking treatment wouldn’t be able to do so in private.

Moore will join Mayfair Civic Association President and CDC member Joe DeFelice next Tuesday at a meeting at Lincoln High School for the public to discuss the issue. City and state politicians are expected to attend, and opponents are hoping someone from both the state health department and Healing Way will attend.

As Moore put it, “We want to get as much explanation as we can.”

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