Frankford residents push back against proposed recovery center

Frankford residents and community leaders expressed opposition to a proposed recovery center at the Neighborhood Advisory Committee’s Oct. 12 meeting.

Representatives from The Wedge Recovery Center, including CEO Jason McLaughlin, present plans Thursday, Oct. 11 during the Frankford Neighborhood Advisory Committee meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Frankford residents pushed back against a proposed drug recovery center near Arrott Transportation Center during the Oct. 12 Frankford Neighborhood Advisory Committee meeting.

The Wedge Recovery Center is applying for a zoning variance to put a 16-room group living facility at 4800 Frankford Ave. It would serve men from the ages of 18 to 26 struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

Neighbors, the NAC’s board and the Frankford Community Development Corporation opposed Wedge’s plans.

State Rep. Jason Dawkins questioned why Wedge would want to establish a residential facility at the corner of Frankford Avenue and Foulkrod Street.

“It is the hottest drug corner in our community, period,” Dawkins said. “I do not see how it can be beneficial to have a live-in facility for young males in that particular area.”

Several others at the meeting echoed his comments, saying the area is a haven for drug activity.

Dr. Paula Coy, Wedge’s chief clinical officer, said the company locates its facilities in areas where there is a need for addiction-related services.

Dawkins, CDC Executive Director Kimberly Washington and others also said that Frankford has become inundated with recovery centers. Several are already located nearby on Frankford Avenue.

“The real crisis is in Kensington, but every other month we get a new proposal for a large recovery or treatment-type facility,” Washington said. “After a while, you start to say the crisis is here in Frankford. No, you moved the crisis here to Frankford because you moved all the recovery centers here.”

A few community members asked whether the facility would serve Frankford residents or people from all over the city. Wedge CEO Jason McLaughlin said the center will treat people referred to the company by city agencies.

“We don’t have opioid users here,” NAC Chairman Doug Bryant said. “The majority of those opioid users come in from the suburbs.”

Wedge has operated an outpatient center for people with drug and alcohol problems at 4243 Frankford Ave. since 2008. The proposed facility would be different in that patients would be living on site for six months to a year while receiving treatment.

McLaughlin tried to alleviate concerns by saying the facility would be staffed by at least two people 24 hours a day. It would also have a closed circuit camera system, and Wedge plans to cooperate with police in the event of any criminal activity.

“There is an opioid crisis, and it’s all over the city,” McLaughlin said. “We’re just trying to do something to help.”

“If you don’t want us here, it’s disappointing but it’s your choice,” he added.

Residents who live within two blocks of 4800 Frankford Ave. were eligible to vote. They voted 4–0 in opposition to the variance. The NAC board also expressed opposition, and Washington said the CDC plans to write a letter formally opposing the facility.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear Wedge’s case Nov. 14.

In other news from the Oct. 12 NAC meeting:

  • The NAC Board voted in support of an application for a deck connecting to Makumba Restaurant and Bar, 4501 Castor Ave. No residents from the two-block area, which is mostly commercial, were in attendance at the meeting. Makumba’s owners had erected the deck not knowing that it extended into a more restrictive zoning area, according to their attorney. The owners said the deck is mainly for daytime use and will be closed by 10 p.m.
  • Neighbors voted 4–0 in support of a zoning use variance for Meekstreats, 1633 Orthodox St., a shop that specializes in homemade pudding. The building is owned by Dawkins and has long been utilized as a commercial space. However, it is formally designated as a residential zone. This variance would formalize its use, Dawkins said. The shop is operated by Malikah Crosby.
  • The NAC decided to delay a vote on the proposed expansion of a bar at 4101 Paul St. The owner is applying to expand to the second floor of the property. A couple of people who live nearby raised concerns about late-night noise and activity around the bar. Dawkins asked for the vote to be delayed so he could facilitate a meeting between the owner and the neighbors to see if the issues can be resolved. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com