Mt. Airy installs colorful rain barrels on Germantown Avenue

Splashy colors. If you’ve been looking closely, you may have noticed a recent, eye-popping change on Germantown Avenue. The Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID) and several artists from the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) came together to install vibrantly painted rain barrels along Mt. Airy’s commercial corridor. BID held an “unveiling ceremony” in front of GeeChee Rice Girl Cafe Tuesday afternoon.

Eighth District Councilwoman, Cindy Bass was on hand to commemorate the community achievement. The councilwoman expressed the desire to see more neighborhood groups get engaged and involved together. “Small things add up,” Bass declared.

A total of 15 decorated rain barrels have been installed along Germantown Avenue between Cresheim Valley Drive and Washington Lane. Five more barrels will be painted and placed at a later date. BID member Carolene Woods came up with the idea to take the water conservation project to the next level by inviting local artists from MAAG to get involved.

BID Chair, Ken Weinstein said the rain barrels have stirred up excitement in just a matter of days. “There’s a buzz already!” he exclaimed.

Weinstein asserted that only in Philadelphia could such a colorful, collaborative conservation initiative happen. “From the Mayor and Council on down, Philly seems to get the sustainability thing.” he noted. BID is the first business improvement district in the city to install rain barrels in its commercial hub. The association was also the first in the city to bring Big Belly solar trash compactors to its neighborhood.

The 55 gallon barrels will help to fill the 30 gallon tank used by BID’s street cleaning crew to water the 90 flower baskets and numerous planters on Germantown Avenue. In addition to obtaining the barrels from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), BID also bought and put in special retractable spouts to direct the rain water from gutter downspouts into each barrel.

The “unveiling ceremony” was a bit of a misnomer, as the barrels had already found their various homes on Germantown Avenue over the weekend. A few of the local artists, like Renee Mills, were unaware that the rain barrels had already been installed. Mills said she had taken time from work for the event, expecting to see all of the barrels on display together. Mills wound up joining MAAG co-founders, Arlene Olshan and Linda Slodki in a search for the barrels, only knowing some approximate locations. “It’s like a treasure hunt!” Slodki enthused.

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