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. ••