Marquis of Debris: When cleaned-up sites go bad

Posted: January 05, 2012

If you want to see your block go from trashy to classy, email the Marquis at, or find my page on Facebook.

ONE OF MY first adventures to help the city clean up its act took me to a parking lot on Cottman Avenue near Oakland Street in Northeast Philadelphia in late May.

I have fond memories of that journey - almost.

The springtime breeze carried hints of pizza and cheesesteaks from nearby restaurants, piquing my appetite as I strolled past the storefronts. It fizzled out when I turned the corner and saw a pile of trash crammed into the rear of the lot, specked with flies the size of almonds.

An alley separates the lot from a block of rowhouses, and neighbors contribute to a trash pile that blows through the neighborhood on windy days.

The parking lot looked much better in June. The litter was gone, and the shrubbery had been trimmed. But in late December, I got wind that it had deteriorated back into a dumping ground.

"I don't understand how the city doesn't issue any citations to the owner," Don Agriss, a frustrated neighbor, said in an email.

Last night, the Marquis was waiting to hear from the Streets Department on how soon an enforcement officer could visit the lot to write up a few code-violation notices.

The Marquis knows it's not the fault of business owners that litterbugs use their parking lot as a trash dump.

But doing commerce in an area where neighbors have a hard time showing they care about their slice of the city is an opportunity for the business owners to lead by example by keeping the area around their stores clean.

O CHRISTMAS TREE: If your tree is still sitting in the living room begging to be put out of its misery, the sanitation division at the Streets Department is here to help.

The agency is collecting Christmas trees through Jan. 14 during its 24th annual tree-recycling program.

Philadelphians are invited to drop off unwanted trees - minus the decorations - at one of three sanitation convenience centers throughout the city between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"By recycling them and returning them to the earth, we help to reduce the number of discarded trees that end up in landfills," said June Cantor, a Streets Department spokeswoman.

The trees may be dropped off at the following locations:

* 63rd Street near Eastwick Avenue, Southwest Philadelphia;

* Domino Lane near Umbria Street, Upper Roxborough;

* State Road near Ashburner Street, Holmesburg.

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