The Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID) has formed a partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) to clean up 50 vacant parcels in East Mt. Airy.
BID secured an $8,000 grant through Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development’s Philadelphia LandCare program, which is managed by PHS.
Hollie Malamud-Price, BID’s Executive Director says the association saw the conditions of the selected vacant lots as a quality of life issue for the neighborhood. In the past two years, BID has clean up several vacant properties on E. Phil Ellena and E. and W. Duval streets as part of the citywide spring cleanup day.
“It’s a nice extension of BID’s spring clean up efforts,” she said.
Malamud-Price says BID’s latest project is not a money-maker by any means, but rather a labor of love.
The contract covers monthly cleaning visits at a rate of $22.50 per parcel through October after which yearly renewals for up to three years are possible. Cleaning, mowing and maintenance of the parcels has been sub-contracted out to Goodwin Landscaping Company of Germantown.
Nuisance lots, all but 13 of which are privately owned, were identified via drive-by surveillance, Google Maps and through information gleaned from Philadelphia Water Department’s database, Malamud-Price explained.
The partnership with PHS is especially welcome because the organization has not been active in East Mt. Airy in the past.
“It’s really opening the door for PHS to come in and do some work with those properties in the future,” she noted.
BID is also hoping to work together with East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) on a joint project involving one of the parcels during Philadelphia Cares Day.
Cleaning the lots is expected to benefit the neighborhood by increasing property values and reducing crime. Malamud-Price says the intent for the revitalization work is to encourage lot holders to take ownership of their land and develop a sense of community pride which will abate dumping on the grounds.
“It’s going to have an impact,” she said.