Cleaning crews return to Fumo's plundered turf

Posted: March 30, 2011

Tidying of the East Passyunk area - where cleanup was suspended nearly two years ago after the fall of former state Sen. Vince Fumo - began again Monday under a new civic group.

Fumo's Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, lavishly funded then plundered by Fumo, spent most of the funds remaining after Fumo went to jail on legal fees to defend its board of directors, said Sam Sherman Jr., director of Citizens Alliance's successor, the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp.

What's left is rental income from 14 properties, all storefronts and apartments that Citizens Alliance owned debt-free, leaving PARC a budget of about $450,000.

The money is funding sidewalk cleaning and will pay for tree planting. Sherman said PARC will start out cleaning only about half the area Citizens Alliance did.

The primary focus of PARC's activities will be Passyunk Avenue from Federal Street to Broad, a commercial corridor where PARC owns a majority of its property. PARC said the avenue will be cleaned twice a day, six days a week. A surrounding residential area bounded by 9th Street, Snyder Avenue, Broad and Federal streets, will be cleaned two times a week.

Sherman said ABM Janitorial Services was chosen to run the day-to-day cleaning operation.

Citizens Alliance was founded in 1991 with millions of dollars in donations solicited by Fumo from Peco and the Delaware River Port Authority. It ceased cleaning after Fumo went to prison.

Because of affordable prices and its proximity to Center City, the once-declining South Philadelphia neighborhood is drawing upscale businesses and families.

And the cleaning will make the neighborhood more inviting, said Curtis Alexander, who opened Urban Jungle, a gardening business on Passyunk near Tasker Street, in a warehouse previously used as a Mummers practice space.

"It was just an old Italian neighborhood. There were nice people," but the neighborhood was not well-lit and felt dangerous to walk around in late at night, Alexander said.

"I think it's becoming more of a destination."

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