HomeHome Page FeaturedNorthwood not sold on new health center

Northwood not sold on new health center

The Northwood Civic Association discussed the proposed city district health center coming to the 99-acre Friends Hospital, 4641 Roosevelt Blvd.

Right now, there is only one district health center in the Northeast, at 2230 Cottman Ave. Supporters of more centers in the Northeast say the wait time for appointments there is too long.

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The city will be opening a center across from the Frankford Transportation Center.

The proposed center at Friends would be big, serving an estimated 31,300 people per year.

The Philadelphia Historical Commission has approved demolition of a 175-year-old building, “Lawnside,” and construction of a two-story, 55,000-square-foot structure that would house the center.

Both Lawnside, a Victorian cottage, and Friends are designated national historic landmarks. Lawnside had been the superintendent’s residence, but has fallen into disrepair, and those supporting its preservation blame Friends management for the lack of care.

Opposing the health center at Friends are the Northwood Civic Association, St. James Lutheran Church and Pastor Paul Andell, St. Mark’s Church Frankford and the nonprofit Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and executive director Paul Steinke.

“Leave the building there,” said Northwood resident Joe Menkevich.

Menkevich referred to the Philadelphia Historical Commission as “a land bank for wealthy people.”

Opponents also cite concerns about lack of an impact study and safety on the Boulevard, as some visitors would have to cross 12 lanes of traffic.

The center would offer comprehensive primary care for adults and children such as vaccines, flu shots, blood tests, mammograms, pharmacy and physical therapy. The cost would be $5 to $20 for visits and no charge for services. It would accept Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance.

Supporters say the two new centers are needed because poverty has skyrocketed in the Lower Northeast.

City Councilwoman Quetcy Lozada supports the center. On June 13, Council passed zoning legislation that will allow construction of a new center.

At the June 18 Northwood Civic meeting, a Lozada aide passed out a 13-page report on public comments received by the councilwoman and the Department of Public Health.

The report noted that the councilwoman held six public meetings on the proposed center, but Menkevich dismissed them as “Lozada pep rallies.” Resident Linda Morrison said the meetings were “staged,” with people attending from outside Northwood with homemade signs.

“Don’t tear down the national historic landmark,” Morrison said of Lawnside.

The report said the new health center has the support of state Reps. Joe Hohenstin (who was at the Northwood Civic meeting) and Jason Dawkins and City Councilmen Mike Driscoll and Brian O’Neill.

The city said 44 sites were considered before it settled on Friends. Friends was one of seven finalists for a new center, according to the report. The others were at 2361-75 Welsh Road; 2901 Grant Ave.; Krewstown Road and Grant Avenue; 20 Franklin Mills Blvd.; and two locations at the Northeast Tower Center, 4640 Roosevelt Blvd.

Mari Carrasquillo, president of Northwood Civic Association, said the construction will displace wildlife and suggested putting the center in Juniata, where neighborhood leaders support the Friends plan.

Resident Debbie Klak said the new center will be too noisy for Friends, which bills itself as “A Quiet Refuge for Healing.”

Klak said that construction should not move forward on a property that was once home to a Native American encampment, specifically the Lenape Tribe.

“So many artifacts were found right behind Friends Hospital,” said Klak, adding that she wants the historical commission to conduct an archeological survey.

In other news from the meeting:

• Councilwoman Quetcy Lozada will be opening a district office at 4821 Frankford Ave. in late July.

• Leonard Wilson, of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, addressed the group. Wilson encouraged people to call PAAN’s office at 215-940-0550 or its 24-hour communication center line at 215-800-4611.

• The civic association will hold its third annual Cena en Blanc on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 5-10 p.m., in Northwood Park, at Castor Avenue and Arrott Street. The theme will be The Great Gatsby. Guests are required to wear all white clothing. There will be a DJ, dancing, raffles, food trucks and an appearance by the 15th Police District. Guests can also bring their own food. The cost is $20 per couple, $39 per family or $50 for parties over six.

• Painting with Chet will take place on Thursdays, July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 12 and Oct. 10, from 6-8 p.m., at Frankford Pause Park, 4671 Paul St. To register, contact Carmen Olivo at 215-743-6580, Ext. 108 or COlivo@FrankfordCDC.org.

• A food drive takes place every Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Frankford Pause Park, 4671 Paul St. Bring a bag to take home groceries.

• The civic group will be going to the Phillies game on Thursday, Aug. 15, vs. the Washington Nationals. Tickets are $32. Fans 21 and over receive a floppy hat.

• Northwood Civic Association will meet on Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m. at St. James Lutheran Church, Castor Avenue and Pratt Street. There will be no meeting in August. ••

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