Marquis of Debris: Mysteriously, a tire pile grows in Fishtown

Posted: September 01, 2011

IF YOU'RE SICK of trash and illegal dumping in your neighborhood, send The Marquis a note at trash@phillynews.com.

DON'T TREAD ON ME: Looking for a used tire? There are thousands to choose from at a vacant lot on Beach Street near Susquehanna Avenue, in Fishtown.

At Penn Treaty Park, the scent of the Delaware River and well-kept grounds make for an inviting riverside hangout. But a few blocks north, the stench of rubber and swarms of mosquitoes buzzing around the overgrown shrubbery cloud the air.

It wasn't until walking deep into this jungle of overgrown plants and discarded tires that The Marquis realized how severe the problem was.

Thousands - yes, thousands - of tires. So many, in fact, that a satellite photo from a few years ago shows mountains of tires beginning to form, and the problem has gotten only worse.

"They've probably been building for two years," said Tom Potts, of the New Kensington Community Development Corp. "We don't know who's dumping there, you can't blame anybody unless you catch them," he said.

"We even used some of the biggest tires to try to erect barricades to prevent more dumping until someone can figure out what to do about this problem," said Christopher Sawyer, of the Olde Richmond Association.

Sadly, that wasn't enough.

Someone parted the stack of enormous tires, and now they almost look like a themed entrance to the lot.

Potts said that he's been in touch with Councilman Frank DiCicco's office about the lot, and that inspectors will likely pay a visit in the near future.

"We're pushing the Health Department to go out there and check on the mosquito problem," Potts said.

They better bring some bug spray along, because a visit earlier this week left The Marquis with bites in some rather uncomfortable places.

Although the property is abandoned, nothing keeps neighbors from walking right in. When The Marquis visited, a few were fishing in the murky river and biking on gravel walkways past mountains of tires and piles of garbage.

Aside from the threat of tire fires and someone contracting West Nile from the swarm of mosquitoes, The Marquis noticed that there are no barriers to prevent someone from falling into the water here.

According to city property records, the lot is owned by Glasgow Inc., a highway construction and materials producer based in Glenside.

The company bought the 58,760 square foot lot for $1 in 1985, according to city property records, and didn't return The Marquis' phone call.

Maybe a code violation or fine will get them talking.

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