Property owner, clinic applicant no-shows at methadone meeting

Dennis Kulp and Carl Primavera were booed at a meeting last night to discuss a methadone clinic in Holmesburg, but neither was around to hear it.

Primavera is the attorney for Healing Way, Inc., which has plans to open a methadone clinic at 7900 Frankford Ave. Kulp owns the property.

As the meeting at Lincoln High School got started last night, Mayfair Civic Association President Joe DeFelice announced Kulp had emailed him earlier in the day to say he’d been advised by his attorney not to attend the meeting in case it should interfere with future litigation. Primavera hasn’t answered any attempts to reach him.

DeFelice and Holmeburg Civic Association President Fred Moore cohosted the meeting, which drew an estimated 750 people to the school’s auditorium, and featured guest speakers 6th District Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, 5th District Sen. Mike Stack, 173rd District Rep. Mike McGeehan, 172nd District Rep. Kevin Boyle, 202nd District Rep. Mark Cohen and Karen Grumankin, who presented a letter written by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.

Before the elected officials began their speeches, Moore gave a brief history of the property, which first caught the HCA’s attention over the winter when a notice for a medical facility was placed in the window.

It wasn’t until this summer when it became clear the applicant, Healing Way Inc., planned to distribute narcotics at the center, which neighbors now know is meant to be a methadone clinic. Kulp says he was unaware of the plans Healing Way had in store, and DeFelice says Kulp is trying to break the lease agreement.

Following speeches from the elected officials, Mayfair CDC, Business Association and Civic Association members worked the room collecting and organizing comment cards to make the question-and-answer portion of the night run efficiently. The second hour of the night was devoted to debunking rumors:

Myth: The clinic is ready to open.

Fact: There are no immediate plans to open the clinic, and Boyle, McGeehan and DeFelice stressed the point that as long as the owner (Kulp) and applicant (Healing Way) are in litigation, which Kulp has said he’ll consider pursuing to break the lease, the clinic cannot open.

Myth: An overnight rehab facility will open in the upstairs residential units.

Fact: Moore and Boyle say no such plans have been discussed, and that Kulp has promised to provide paperwork indicating the existing tenants have not been forced out to make room for an overnight facility. Such a center would need additional permits and zoning.

Myth: The clinic is illegal.

Fact: Healing Way, Inc. was able to obtain legal, over-the-counter permits because no zoning variance was required. McGeehan suggested he and other state lawmakers draft legislation to include the community and local enforcement as a necessary part of the process in the decision to grant or deny such permits.

Myth: Applicants must have a medical background to apply to open a medical treatment facility.

Fact: Boyle says current laws allow anyone to apply for such a facility. Healing Way’s operators have a background in the cash-for-gold industry. Laws state only that a doctor must be on the premises during hours of operation.

Myth: This is the same operator who tried to open a methadone clinic at Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

Fact: Healing Way is a different applicant, unaffiliated with the other proposed clinic, and operating as a private business.

Last night’s meeting was a way for neighbors and business owners to arm themselves with the facts, DeFelice said. Through the Q&A session, he worked to separate fact from fiction as other neighborhood civic groups have gotten involved. Members from the Upper Holmesburg, Bustleton, Somerton, Tacony and Holme Circle civics were at the meeting to ask questions, and those groups, along with the Morrell Park Civic Association, have written letters of opposition to the clinic in support of Holmesburg.

It’s the letters, legislation ideas and other solutions DeFelice says will help defeat Healing Way’s plans. Last week’s rally was “wonderful,” he said, but last night’s meeting was about information.

Though many people left once the politicians’ speeches ended, applause still rang out as Moore and DeFelice called for action, asking the crowd to sign up for the buses bring chartered to the Aug. 31 Zoning Board hearing Krajewski has scheduled and encouraging them to bring the information to their neighbors.

But some questions remain unanswered. Because Primavera didn’t attend the meeting, it remains unclear how Healing Way expects to run its clinic — from the parking for what could  be more than 500 patients a day, to how the clinic plans to secure and distribute the methadone.

Since plan for the clinic were made public, Moore has been calling for transparency and communication from Healing Way and Primavera, but the elected officials remain staunchly against the clinic.

McGeehan said opening such a clinic would be “crazy,” while Boyle promised to “fight like hell.” Stack’s take on the proposed clinic? “No way in hell.”

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