Salvation Army and Y updates at Frankford Civic meeting

The futures of two large neighborhood institutions were discussed at Thursday’s Frankford Civic Association meeting.

First, the now vacant Salvation Army building, on Frankford Avenue near Unity Street, is up for sale, recycling residents’ fear over recovery homes that have beleaguered Frankford for years. Second, the latest chapter in the harried sale of the Frankford Y was announced, including a sale date that passed without action.

Below watch State Representative Tony Payton Jr.’s Chief of Staff Jorge Santana speak about the Salvation Army building.

Zoning matters

Frankford Civic Association heard two zoning requests at its January meeting.

Pastor Richard Smith brought along some of his congregation to ask for help in getting a continuance on his five -year temporary variance.

Funded by his congregation at Faith Assembly of God at Margaret and Ditman streets, Smith leads an eight-man discipleship, most, he said, hoping to leave a life of addiction.

Since his zoning variance — which allowed him to double occupancy to eight — had expired, he was hosting only four men.

The home, at 1930 Harrison St., hosts those on a volunteer basis, has Christian roots and includes many with ties to Frankford — all details that seem to soften the edge off a Frankford Civic Association board recently skeptical of allowing any variances related to recovery. Smith said, with the help of his residents, he leads the largest food ministry in Frankford, doling out 20,000 meals a year.

One of Smith’s alumni gave an impromptu and all the more impassioned recommendation about his program’s good work, which brought at least one board member to soft tears.

Smith said he is a 20 year resident of Frankford and lives two doors down from the men’s home, which has supervision around the clock.

Santana said he spoke directly to the Bensalem-based salesman of the Salvation Army building and said he made clear community objections to the building being sold to an organization whose mission residents wouldn’t support, like another unauthorized recovery homes. Instead, Santana said the property — which is being sold for $1.2 million, in addition to a 20,000-square foot lot behind it for less than $200,000 — could be ideal for a charter school or recreation center.

“This neighborhood needs more schools to offer more opportunities for kids here,” Santana said. “This is the place to start that.”

He named the Sankofa Freedom Academy, which already has a Frankford location but is looking to expand to middle school, as being possibly interested.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez representative Jason Dawkins said he recently spoke to the attorney of Anthony Bannister to get an explanation why the potential Y buyer never appeared, as planned, at the last Frankford Civic meeting.

It was at November’s Northwood Civic meeting that Bannister announced his intentions to purchase the community Y amid big production plans and was then roundly blasted by Northwood Civic Association President Barry Howell, who last night announced his organization was filing a request with the city’s Orphans’ court to audit the Y’s finances.

The proposed Y deal has stalled though, Dawkins said, because Bannister has failed to receive the funding he had promised. No new sale date has been announced, he added.

Also at the meeting… Zoning Officer Pete Specos announced that the board had its way with 1522-24 Church Street, the owners of which had their zoning request to add beds to a ‘rehab clinic’ denied. Licenses and Inspections is investigating further the legality of the operation, Specos added… Representatives of MNC Construction, who appeared last month before filing with the city, again presented a plan to build a 26-foot-high, 92-foot-long, one-story storage garage on a vacant lot at 4205-07 Adams Ave… Dawkins announced a meeting at the Second Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 to discuss getting residents to ‘adopt’ smaller, so-called ‘pocket parks’ to beautify them…. Howell also announced that the city’s Department of Behavior Health want open a rehabilitation clinic on Roosevelt Blvd. within Northwood’s deed restrictions. He pledged to fight it, as seen below.

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