East Falls community to tackle growing trash concerns in citywide cleanup event

East Falls residents and business owners have had enough.

Pockets of the community, which is home to former Gov. Ed Rendell and former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, are littered with trash. On a recent day along Ridge Avenue, students from Philadelphia Neighborhoods spotted empty bottles, candy wrappers, pizza boxes and an overturned garbage bin strewn across the sidewalk and wedged underneath car tires on the street.

Residents say it’s a growing concern. 

Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corporation, has faced challenges in addressing the issue.

“We’ve tried to do cleanings throughout the year, but we don’t have the resources to clean all the time. I have actually tried to apply for grants and things to try to get more cleaning in the area, but we’re not there yet because of the economic downturn,” Snyder said. 

The impact on businesses 

But that’s not stopping community members and businesses from taking action along their own blocks.

The owner of Slices Pizza on Ridge Ave., is always out cleaning the area in front of his store and along Inn Yard Park, Snyder said.

“There’s not necessarily a relationship between local businesses and the trash that’s being generated. They’re not just cleaning up the trash from their business. They’re also cleaning up trash that is generated by people who are passing by,” Snyder said. 

Todzsa Brown, the owner of Roxborough’s The Garden of Eden shop, said ripped trash bags and lack of community concern are contributing to the problem.

“We have trash cans and recycling in our alley and every day there’s plastic bottles on the ground or soda cans in front of my store, and I think people just don’t care about their neighborhood. But I understand the Sanitation Department can only do so much if the citizens aren’t going to do their part,” Brown said.

Adrienne Berrian has been the owner of Adrienne’s Floral Creations on Ridge Ave. for the past 11 years. She said there’s always trash on the street outside of her business. She attributes the uptick to the city’s budget cuts but adds that fixing the problem is a team effort.

“We have a personal responsibility of going out and cleaning the trash, but not everybody is responsible,” Berrian said.

Calling on the community 

Snyder says it’s something she and the rest of the community will have to tackle on their own. She says many East Falls residents already do their part by participating in the annual Philly Spring Cleanup. This year, the cleanup will be taking place from 9 a.m. to noon on April 14, along the riverfront business district.

The event brings out a mixture of community members and business people, Snyder said. It’s a great way for people to come together, participate in making the area look better and get rid of the winter blues, she said.

“In the past when we’ve had snowy winters it’s really bad because the snow kind of collects the trash and it stays in one place. We haven’t had that kind of snow this year, but there’s just areas where nobody’s been outside really cleaning,” Snyder said.

The Streets Department organizes the event each year, providing bags, gloves, rakes and other materials. A trash pick-up will also be organized for the end of the day.

Collecting recyclables 

On the same day, there’s also going to be a recycling fundraiser for the East Falls community. A truck will be at the parking lot under the twin bridges for people to donate things like old cell phones, shoes, belts, bags and clothing. The recycled items will be collected, weighed and the money received will go back to the community, Snyder said. “It’s a great way for people who are doing their own household spring cleaning to donate items they no longer want,” Snyder said.

The Trolley Car Cafe, located on South Ferry Road, will be giving out coupons for $5 off a meal over $15 to anyone who donates.

“We have a nice synergy going on with trying to get people down here to help with the spring cleanup, bring recycling, and just do a general spring cleaning,” Snyder said.

“In some ways we’re not really avid about just going around and cleaning because we think that people should take responsibility. That’s more of what we’re trying to do with the cleanup.” she said. “We try to encourage people to clean up all the time, because once a year just doesn’t cut it.” Snyder said.

The Philadelphia Street Department’s Sanitation Division was unavailable for comment. 

Jon Ristaino and Kailey Meitzler are students at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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