by Nikia Brown
Tensions continue to rise as sharply clashing and dissenting opinions emerge concerning Parkside Recovery’s presence in the Parkside community. Parkside Recovery provides treatment to opiate dependent individuals, but the impact of this facility appears to extend far beyond its clinic doors.
On Thursday, July 17, 2014, Parkside Recovery hosted an on site meeting of a select group of individuals to discuss the various allegations and criticisms that have been directed at the clinic in a petition that calls for the removal or closing down of the facility.
Long time community activist Lucinda Hudson began by saying that those circulating the petition should have first brought their concerns to community organizations like the one she heads (Parkside Association of Philadelphia) before initiating a petition drive.
She also asserted that Parkside Recovery had begun working on resolving problems related to the clinic long before the petition drive began. She therefore deemed the petition drive to be unnecessary. The Parkside Journal attempted to obtain additional statements and opinions from others present at the meeting, but a majority of those present expressed discomfort with the presence of press and requested that we (two Parkside Journal reporters) leave before the official beginning of the meeting.
Since we were unable to discover what about the methadone clinic was going to be discussed in the meeting, we talked to nearby residents and business owners regarding their feelings about the clinic. Community resident Betty Lindley states, “The methadone clinic has been holding the community back for 39 years with operations that have expanded to 7 days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.” Donna Parker, a resident and community liaison, echoes similar sentiments expressing concern for her children. She stated that patients of Parkside Recovery are under the influence of drugs which could lead to unpredictable behavior.
She added that patients loitering outside the clinic after treatment threatens the safety of her girls who pass the clinic en route to extracurricular activities at Cornucopia on 49th and Parkside. Lindley and Parker believe policies implemented by the clinic offer no real solution, but rather exacerbate the problem. Lindley states, “The clients are currently being forced by clinic security from catching the bus at 5000 Parkside Avenue just outside the clinic.
Instead they are coming further into the community bringing trash, inappropriate behavior and drug transactions… if there is a problem at 5000 Parkside then what rationale is there for dispersing the problems throughout the community?”
While Lindley and Parker maintain that the clinic hinders community progress, other residents feel that the problems surrounding the facility have been addressed. Robert Zakian, Charter Member of the Business Association, told The Parkside Journal that 3 months ago he would have agreed with Lindley and Parker. When returning home from work, he was often met with the unpleasant experience of patients loitering outside of the facility. He claims, however, Parkside Recovery took appropriate measures to resolve the issue by implementing a zero tolerance loitering policy.
When discussing whether the safety of residents is an issue, Zakian responded, “There are more security guards than there are people.” Lucinda Hudson of the Parkside Association of Philadelphia agrees with Zakian emphatically stating, “Parkside Recovery has made a herculean effort to improve the situation.” Zakian says the zero tolerance loitering policy, “killed two birds with one stone.” He continued, “By attacking the loitering issue, the clinic simultaneously addressed concomitant complaints such as littering and alleged illegal drug transactions.
he debate concerning the effects of Parkside Recovery on the community raises some difficult questions. As stated, a petition for the removal of the clinic is in circulation and some residents feel the clinic not only affects community members, but local businesses as well. Parker told The Parkside Journal that workers at Shop Rite have personally shared with her their frustrations regarding the lewd and disruptive behavior of the clinic’s patients.
Zakian retorts that he cannot validate this claim because employees have not directly voiced these complaints to him. While Donna Parker would like to see the clinic moved to a remote location, Zakian says, “The clinic and the patients have a right to be there. And thus the debate continues.
Look for continuing updates on this story here on our website