Meeting Minutes

Friends of 40th Street

Meeting Memo No. 7
Date/Place/Time: 28 January 2005/3901 Market Street – The Community Room/8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.


James Braxton (JB) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Lynease Chapman (LC) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Christine Chasteen (CC) 3901 Market Street (3901)
John Fenton (JFe) University City District (UCD)
Joe Fischer (JFi) University of Pennsylvania Police Depart. (UPPD)
Lavern Fish (LF) Parkside Recovery (PR)
Lee Goode (LG) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Sheri Halpern (SH) Civic House Associates Coalition, U of PA (CHAC)
Dee Hooker (DH) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Ruth Hugee (RH) Nezzies (3901 Market Street, 1004)
Ajamu Johnson (AJ) Peoples Emergency Center CDC (PECCDC)
Beth Ann Johnson (BAJ) Friends of Walnut West Free Library (FWW)
Eleanor Johnson (EJ) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Patti McLaughlin (PM) Walnut Street West Library (WWL)
Lucy Kerman (LK) President’s Office, U of PA (PO)
Kathy Laws (KL) 3901 Market Street (3901)
John Leatherberry (JL) West Powelton Community Association (WPCA)
Kenny Lyons (KLy) 3901 Market Street/ Management (3901)
Scott Maits (SM) 4601 Market Street
Alicia Marini (AM) Civic House Associates Coalition, U of PA, (CHAC)
Nancy Mosely (NM) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Cassi Pittman (CP) Student, U of PA
Richard Rogers (RR) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Harris Sokoloff (HSo) Graduate School of Education, U of PA (GSE)
Harris Steinberg (HS) Penn Praxis, U of P A (PP)
Captain S. Trush (CT) Philadelphia Police 16th District (PPD)
Matt Walker (MWA) Partnership CDC (PCDC)
Judiann Winston (JW) 3901 Market Street (3901)
Dr. Frank Wyatt (FW) University Herbs
Andrew Zitcer (AZ) Facilities and Real Estate Services, U of PA (FRES)

Purpose: Monthly meeting of the Friends of 40th Street

Items Discussed:

1) Harris Sokoloff (HSo) opened the meeting by welcoming everybody and wishing them a happy new year. All present introduced themselves. Cassi Pittman (CP), the new Friends of 40th Street Coordinator, was introduced.

2) The minutes from the previous meeting were reviewed. Corrections were made to page 3, number 6, section c so that it states “Residents and management will work together to set up a training program for the residents of 3901 Market Street.” With this amendment the minutes were approved.

3) Harris Steinberg (HSt) suggested having a discussion to determine a set of ground rules or codes governing how the meeting’s dialogue will be published publicly.

4) The 40th Street Planning Principles were reviewed. Harris Sokoloff (HSo) noted that the principles were developed during the Spring 2004 40th Street Community Forums. The principles represent the foundation upon which the Friends operate. The role of 3901 Market Street in the development of the principles was noted.

5) Kathy Laws (KL) asked that the meeting notices and minutes be posted in the building.

a) Kenny Lyons (KLy) responded that the confusion was due to a mix up and that it would not occur again.

b) Alicia Marini (AM) suggested that the meetings be advertised in the Daily Pennsyl vanian to attract more students.

c) Scott Maits (SM) suggested that principles be converted to bullet points that could be advertised in the space that appears adjacent to the logo.

6) Lucy Kerman (LK) gave an update on the status of the website: The website was created a year ago to reflect the dialogue that began during the community forums. It is now being revised to reflect the development of the Friends group. Soon meeting notices, minutes, and other information will be added. At present, a forum section exists where people can post questions, concerns and comments to continue the discussion that occurs during the monthly meetings. LK raised a question regarding the availability of Internet access.

a) Judiann Winston (JW) reported that a computer lab at 3901 Market Street will be available for residents to use.

b) KLy clarified that the computer lab in University Square would not be ready for another 2-3 months due to regulations designated by Neighborhood Network grant. Also mentioned that the computer lab would be for general public use. When asked if anything could be done to expedite the process, he stated that at present nothing could be done.

c) The Walnut West Free library was suggested as a potential location for 3901 residents to gain Internet access.

d) Patti McLaughlin (PM) stated that the Free Library would be available for 3901 residents’ computer needs, though there are limitations to using library computers. There is a time limit of a half an hour and residents would have to library cards to gain access. She stated that it would also be possible to set up a time early in the morning that residents could use the facility without these restrictions.

e) LK emphasized that the website has just started and that everyone has ownership of it. She restated that if anyone has any suggestions that they should feel free to share them.

f) Ajamu Johnson (AJ) recommended that a suggestion box or link for suggestions be added to the actual website. LK noted that the website has a “forum area” that we can use for this purpose. People can post there and it will be available for everyone to read.

g) Scott Maits (SM) asked how to post pictures. LK stated that she would ask the webmistress. She stated that the website also has the ability to play music.

7) LK and Andrew Zitcer (AZ) reported on the Arts Task Force. The Arts Task Force, which meets every month at the Rotunda, located at 4012 Walnut Street, is attracting a people from throughout the community, including the gallery Art on 38th, the East African Resource Center, the Foundation, and Beth Ann Johnson (BAJ) from the Free Library. The purpose of the Arts Task Force is to use the arts to enliven the community and to facilitate bringing the community together. LK gave a brief synopsis of some of the projects, including a possible jazz series that might use the outdoor patio or the Community Room at 3901. Also, there is an oral history project being conducted by a class at the U of PA that will attempt to reconstruct the history of jazz along 40th street. As a part of the project students will be interviewing residents at 3901 Market St. AZ discussed the potential of developing a specific arts section on the website to market the Arts and Culture that exist in the community. The website could serve as a repository of exhibits and events in the community.

8) HSo asked about funding and suggested the Barra Foundation might be interested, as it has expressed interest in community arts initiatives.

9) To conclude the Arts Task Force presentation, AZ discussed a project being conducted by a U of PA architecture students as a part of their formal training. Their coursework entails engaging in a study/project concerning local properties. Currently they are working on reconfiguring the parking lot of Drew Elementary school. This reconceptualization of the parking lot would include landscaping, creating a bandstand area, and a formalized area for the farmers market. The design would be implemented at a later stage though some components could be built as soon as the summer.

a) John Fenton (JFe) suggested that UC Green be contacted regarding the landscaping efforts.

b) SM suggested that the Lancaster Corridor Group also be contacted. Potential development in the area could make the street life more continuous and fill the gaps that were created by the demolition of the Black Bottom (Vicinity of 40th and Market Streets, north and east to Haverford Avenue.).

10) A second component of the architecture students’ project entails a design challenge. A Japanese architect will help facilitate the project. During the spring an exhibit will be constructed outside of the Rotunda. Students will work with ice and bamboo to construct a temporary public art on the Walnut St. plaza at the Rotunda. Community members, including students involved in the Police Athletic League, will participate in the actual construction of the structure, which should be a fun and uniting venture that will take place at the end of Feb.

11) KL shared her personal collection of original photographs of legendary jazz artist Duke Ellington. She hopes that the pictures will be used to make a collage to demonstrate the once renowned character and history of the area. The mural could serve to attract others to the area. She also mentioned her twins, Malcolm and Jason Brown, who are Penn alumni, who could possibly help with artistic efforts of Friends.

a) Alicia Marini (AM) suggested the Performing Arts Coalition (PAC) of the U of PA, a body of performing arts groups, be used as a resource and to invite PAC to participate in community projects and productions.

12) The Quality of Life Task Force (QLTF) presented on their two January meetings (Tues. 18th and Wed. 19th) in which they discussed issues of public safety. Representatives from the Quality of Life Task Force also met with a representative from the Parkside Recovery Center in January.

a) Capt. Fischer (Jfi) gave updates on crime in the area. There was a robbery on 43rd St. between Pine and Locust streets. They were able to apprehend a suspect with the help of the community.

b) The QLTF is working on developing a merchant fact sheet that would be one page in length. It would highlight activities in the area.

c) University City District’s (UCD) initiatives have resulted in improvement in the area’s level of cleanliness.

d) The QLTF is working to involve Eckerd Drugstore in the efforts to keep the streets clean. A significant amount of trash and debris travels from Eckerd’s parking lot up the Market Street corridor.

e) The cell phone project at present is ongoing. (See item No. 18 for greater detail).

f) Outreach efforts to the 40th Street and Market Street town homes management remains outgoing.

g) SEPTA’s involvement remains critical in initiatives that involve the corner of 40th street and Market.

13) JFi gave a brief update of the police activity in the area. Two individuals were arrested who lived in the townhomes in early December. A male and female. The male had been involved in six robberies, a shooting, and a homicide. The female often disguised herself by dressing in a burka. The police efforts were successful because of the community’s assistance. There has been a rash of robberies in the 18th district, from 43rd to 46th Streets particularly. The thief has often been described as using a silver gun. A number of robberies have been stopped in progress by the police, including one on 41st and Pine.

14) Captain Trush (CT) of the 16th District remarked on public apathy in the past and how presently there is progress because of community involvement. He hopes that such community efforts will move north to Lancaster Ave. He mentioned that he had received support from the Lancaster Ave. Business Association regarding the illegal sale of prescription drugs. He reiterated that he needs feedback from the community regarding crime in the area.

15) A 3901 resident commented on the problem of drugs within the building. The resident spoke of an occasion when dealers were told that they would have to leave the building and get off the property. After doing so, the resident reported what had taken place to a police officer stationed outside, though he did nothing about it. The resident commented that drug dealers have returned to the corner.

a) CT replied that he would speak directly with the resident after the meeting to figure out the necessary course of action regarding the complaint and the officer.

b) JL reported that he has noticed a difference on the corners. He emphasized that the problem will not go way immediately.

c) Building management is aware of and working on the problems in the building. They have been working with 16th District officers to establish a presence in the building. They are building a cooperative relationship and she would like to express her appreciation for their support.

d) HSo reiterated that it is a slow process.

e) A resident brought up the issue of the emergency doors being opened by 3901 residents as a security concern in need of monitoring.

16) HSo called for a 911 cell phone update. LK stated that the QLTF is working with the organization Phones 4 Life. Phones 4 Life gathers used cell phones, and then reprograms them so to dial 911, so they can be used in medical and safety emergencies. The process involves two steps. The first step is collecting the phones and reprogramming those in working order. This will be happening in the next few weeks. The next step involves distributing the cell phones to the interested local citizens. The goal of the cell phone drive is to distribute approximately 100 cell phones.

a) Sheri Halpern (SH) suggested listing all of the locations in which people can donate their used cell phones on Friends’ website and also in the Daily Pennsylvanian (DP).

b) LK mentioned that she had tried to get the project reported in the Daily Pennsylvanian (DP), though she had not been successful in her efforts. The cells phones will probably not be ready for distribution until late Feb. or early March. How the cell phones will be distributed still needs to be determined.

17) HSo wanted to return to an issue mentioned in the report of the Quality of Life Taskforce regarding the Parkside Recovery Center. He asked how best can Friends and Parkside collaborate on addressing the drug activity on the corner of 40th and Market Streets.

a) Laverne Fish (LF) introduced herself as a staff member at Parkside and spoke about how they have been working with their clients to resolve the problem. An advocacy group of their clients, speaks with other clients about how not to engage in illicit acts. She stated that they have no control over their clients’ actions. When Parkside staff discovers clients engaged in such activities, they immediately discharge the client. Several people have been discharged so far and they are doing as much as they can to resolve the problem. Their advocacy group has also spoken with clients from other clinics/centers.

b) It was noted that some of the people involved actually come from Kensington.

c) A question was raised about whether Septa could be contacted. LF suggested that Septa should be asked to have police presence on the buses. Often staff from the clinic that used public transportation have seen clients on the buses under the influence. She mentioned that the problem is also greater than just their clients as doctors are giving prescriptions for the medications because of the profit involved.

d) A resident stated that there is someone who drives the clients to the Veterans Hospital where they get the medication and they are then brought back to 40th street to sell the drugs. The “hook up guy” in their opinion is the main problem.

e) LF responded that if their clients leave the clinic with Methadone it is because they trust them. As their central aim is to improve the quality of life of their clients, when their clients appear reliable and responsible then they will trust them to leave with the prescribed medication.

f) She also described certain methods to ensure proper use of the medication, including call backs, when clients must return with their medication bottles to ensure that their clients are using the medications themselves. Using technology it can be determined if the bottle has been tampered with. At present they are investigating new technologies that enhance their ability to determine if the bottle has been tampered with.

g) CT reported that they have a narcotics team that is working on investigating the problem at higher levels. They do not want to simply displace the problem. They need at least a month to complete their investigation.

h) JL and HSo discussed the necessity to continue the dialogue outside of the present meeting.

18) Patti McLaughlin (PM) and Beth Ann Johnson (BAJ) reported that the Free Library system in Philadelphia is facing layoffs. For example, as a result ,beginning on Monday, Jan. 31st , the library on 34th will only be opened from 1pm to 5pm and will have no librarians. Four librarians at the 40th Street branch may be laid off. West Philadelphia has been particularly hit hard by library cut backs.

a) Both asked that community members write letters to Mayor John Street, Elliot Shelkrot, the director of the Free Library, Philip Goldsmith, the managing director of the city of Philadelphia, and also to the Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell regarding the situation.

b) BAJ also passed around a petition and announced that on Feb. 12th 2005 at 10:30 am there would be a rally in front of the Central branch of the free library located at 1901 Vine.

c) In addition on Sat. afternoon at 1:30pm Beth Ann will be hosting a book sale and people can come by then to sign the petition and write letters.

19) The library recently received permission to use the field adjacent to the library to host their Easter egg hunt, which will occur on March 26th.

20) HSo asked that a notice be created with the addresses to help residents who wanted to write letters on behalf of Free Library.

21) SM suggested that efforts be made to involve the community in demonstrating their love of the building. Perhaps by painting a mural on the building?

22) PM added that Wed. evenings at 6:30pm John Howard, a resident of 3901, will be conducting chess classes. He has 10 regulation chessboards and pieces and can teach up to 20 people at a time. KL asked the time be moved up to 5:30 so that people could have more time to play before the library closes. PM agreed to make the necessary arrangements.

23) HSo concluded the meeting by stating that the next meeting would occur on Feb. 25th 2005 at 8:00 a.m. at 3901 Market St.

24) Standing meetings will be held the last Friday of each month with the exception of August and December. Meetings are open to the community and members are urged to invite neighbors and friends to participate.

© 2004, 40th Street Community Forum and Serendip