At the request of the Parks and Recreation Department, police also have been making more frequent sweeps of the park, telling people they may not sleep under the round balcony of the Fairmount Park Welcome Center, police spokesman Lt. Raymond Evers said.
Last month, The Inquirer wrote about the challenges of keeping the iconic park clean. It officially is John F. Kennedy Plaza, but Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture there forever changed its name and made it a mecca for visitors seeking striking photo backdrops.
It's a place whose image creates lasting impressions of Philadelphia. If they see a dirty LOVE Park, they are in Filthadelphia. If it's clean, they are in one of America's great cities.
Figlestahler works hard to create a positive picture, but he fights a constant swell of grime and trash.
The park's flat expanses attract skateboarders, whose greasy track marks mar the granite surfaces. Its high walls create nooks and crannies that are friendly to homeless people, who sometimes do not pick up or pack up the corrugated cardboard and newspapers they use as bedding.
A planned $15 million overhaul of LOVE Park will eliminate many of the walls and hiding places, but it won't be completed until 2015. Until the new design is in place, it's impossible to know whether it will ease the trash problem.
By 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, a stream of visitors from around the world - England, Japan, Brazil, California - had stopped to take their photos in front of the LOVE sculpture. By then, Figlestahler had completed his work, and most tourists interviewed said it looked clean.
Kia Bowles of Doylestown was visiting the park with her family, from Somerset, England.
"It could be cleaner," she said, "but it's OK."
Patricia Tavares, who traveled from Brazil to Philadelphia to study English for four weeks, said she made LOVE Park one of her first stops because she had seen pictures of Indiana's work. It looks bigger in pictures, she said.
Her friend Marilza Oliveira swept her eyes across the plaza and said "not so much" when asked about the park's cleanliness. "I see things around," she said, pointing to a jumbo drink from McDonald's and an Arizona Fruit Punch, each perched just a few feet from the sculpture.
Litter has always been a problem at the park, but in November, when the city closed nearby Dilworth Plaza for its $50 million renovation, more homeless people migrated to LOVE Park. A revamping of nearby Sister Cities Park from rundown urban plaza to sparkling playground for children also led some people to camp out in LOVE Park instead.
That increased the burden on Figlestahler, who cleans the park every day, only to find it littered with soda bottles, fast-food wrappers, and even human excrement when he returns in the morning.
Figlestahler said he didn't know whether The Inquirer article made any difference, but since then, he has noticed that some homeless people seemed to be working on their housekeeping.
"They leave stuff in little piles," Figlestahler said.
About 7:30 Tuesday night, a new crowd began to settle into the park, one that seemed not to care whether someone had to clean up after them.
A man standing near a baby in a stroller tossed a dirty diaper about 10 feet, barely missing the trash can.
He said he had a home in the city and was in the park to hang out. He would not give his name.
He also said he would not put the diaper in the trash can.
"I tried," he said. As for a city employee's having to do it for him, he said, "They get paid to do that."
The next morning, the tale did not surprise Figlestahler.
"Maybe," he observed, "they are just trying to get their money's worth out of me."
Contact Miriam Hill at 215-854-5520 or email@example.com,
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