Marquis of Debris: A chat with the Marquis & trash bids adieu

Posted: October 14, 2011

WOULD YOU like to see your neighborhood go from trashy to classy? If so, email the Marquis at

Neighbors in East Mount Airy were fuming last week over a pile of trash in the parking lot of the shuttered Lakey's Restaurant that was in danger of becoming a community dumping ground.

A take-out container here and a plastic bag there eventually turned into bulging black Hefty bags of trash, and even a raggedy sofa left lying on the far end of the parking lot on Stenton Avenue near Mount Pleasant.

Last week, the Marquis contacted the building's owner, Josephine Reed, and her real-estate agent, Bob Merritt, to ask how they planned to deal with the situation.

The building is for sale, and the two said they were negotiating with potential buyers.

Reed said she would have the trash hauled away, and Merritt said he'd install a chain around the entrance of the lot to keep dumpers from driving onto the property.

Since our discussion, the lot has been cleaned and is sporting a flashy gold chain and "KEEP OUT" sign across its entrance on Stenton Avenue.

More beautiful, indeed: Last week, I tagged along with Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) block captains during their annual clean block contest.

Judges zigzagged across Philadelphia evaluating neighborhood-beautification projects and listening to neighbors present a brief history of their area.

After eight years judging the contest, Tara Smith, a block captain who works as a community- support specialist for the city's town-watch program, said seeing people come together to improve their way of life never gets old.

"That's what's important about the contest - motivating other neighbors and just trying to improve the quality of life," Smith said on a ride from 65th Street in Overbrook to Luray Street in Hunting Park.

"It's just nice to see what people are doing all over the city - it's encouraging," she said.

While judges walked along Luray near 5th Street chatting with neighbors and eating lunch, contest judge Awilda Ocasio looked from one side of the litter-free block to the other and smiled.

"I wish there were more blocks like this," she said. "These people have not let people come in and mess up their neighborhood."

The winning block will be awarded $1,000 for neighborhood-beautification projects. The Streets Department said 29 blocks entered this year's competition.

Winners of the contest will be announced Nov. 4.