On a powder blue skyed, perfect fall Saturday an army of 50 right-minded volunteers fell in behind the Central Delaware Advocacy Group and the environmentally aware apparel company United By Blue and attacked what would eventually become a mountain of man-made debris (paper, plastic, aluminum and scores of shopping carts) found between Pier 53 (Washington Avenue Pier) and Pier 70.
For PlanPhilly, the day marked a return to our roots (we came into being eight years ago as part of the PennPraxis Central Delaware River action planning). The cleanup was proof of what can be accomplished when people, politics and business interests pull together in a common cause.
The final tally, you ask? A whopping 6,220 pounds of debris removed from the river and piers, including 116 (are you kidding us?) shopping carts.
First District councilman Mark Squilla, who knew these piers like the back of his hand as a boy, was right in the middle of the muck on Pier 68, pants rolled up, Italian driving shoes forlorn, hauling shopping carts out of the river with a grappling hook. CDAG Vice Chair Joe Schiavo was up to his waders in the river, attaching cables to dozens of carts that would be towed onto terra firma and disposed of. Parents and tiny tots scurried all over the piers, filling bags with discarded bottles, paper, plastic, you name it.
United By Blue, a local outdoor apparel firm, founded in 2010, was there as part of the company business plan. For every product United by Blue sells, the company removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways all over the country through company organized and hosted cleanups.
The removal of man-made debris included scouring the banks for litter found in plant materials; picking up and bagging debris on the concrete pier surfaces; and tough duty in the mud next to the piers taking heavier materials, such as shopping carts and tires, out of the river. The organizers, participating partners, and sponsors were United By Blue, Lew Blum Towing, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Fire Department, Super Fresh, Staples, Shop Rite and Rocco’s.
The Delaware River has a significant fish habitat, identified by the Philadelphia Water Department, and many fisherfolk enjoy the pier for recreation and solitude, despite the polluted waters. In the close future, the DRWC intends to transform the currently abandoned Pier 68 into a new waterfront destination for active recreation and waterfront enjoyment. Anyone interested in the future of Pier 68 can learn more about the project, the team, and see old pictures and maps of the pier – go to www.pier68design.com.
Pier 68 is located in Pennsport, behind the Columbus Boulevard Walmart. The plan is to turn it into a wetlands park, with opportunities for fishing and temporarily docking small boats.
See full video coverage below.