Dan Lutz and his team recently began cleaning several residential streets in Mayfair, much to the surprise of neighbors.
“We’re on the block. They see us picking up trash,” said Lutz, a lifelong Tacony resident. “They see us walking down the street and they say: ‘Hey, what are you doing? You going to charge us for that?’”
Lutz’s company is being contracted by the Mayfair Community Development Corporation, which last month launched a biweekly street cleaning program with the help of a $100,000 state grant from the Keystone Communities Program.
“We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from a lot of the neighbors,” Lutz said.
The neighborhood’s Business Improvement District already cleans Frankford Avenue, but executive director Marc Collazzo, who also directs the CDC, said community leaders wanted to extend the sanitation initiative into the heart of Mayfair.
“I think most people in Mayfair really go out of their way to try to keep their properties clean and safe, but it is a constant, constant, constant process,” Collazzo said.
“It’s our way of showing we care as much as they do,” he added. “We want to keep it preserved and beautiful because we want people to stay here and live here and shop here.”
Lutz’s crew doesn’t carry around any mechanical equipment. They have a trash can on wheels, brooms and dustpans. Their first cleanup, which occurred July 24, filled about 20 garbage bags, according to Lutz.
Collazzo said the CDC wanted to pilot the program on some of the neighborhood’s busiest residential streets.
Right now, the cleaning crew is patrolling Tyson Avenue between Roosevelt Boulevard and Frankford Avenue; Brous Avenue from Tyson to Cottman Avenue; Levick Street from Harbison Avenue to Frankford; Rowland Avenue from Tyson to Sheffield Avenue; and Cottman between the Boulevard and Leon Street.
The CDC program also includes Shelmire Avenue, Ryan Avenue, Vista Street, Bleigh Avenue, Aldine Street and Tudor Street from Leon to Frankford.
“This program, we expect to have it grow every year to add more locations, more equipment, more capabilities,” Collazzo said.
Lutz said the entire route takes 25 to 30 hours to complete, and his crew can cover it in two or three days.
“We’re going to stay diligent, and we’re going to try to make the Northeast a better place to live,” he said.
Some may say the CDC is taking on a job that people who live on those blocks should be doing already. However, Collazzo said keeping Mayfair clean should be a collaborative effort.
“You could be the cleanest person in the world,” Collazzo said. “When you have these streets that are heavily trafficked, you have people wandering through it, people visiting, some people dump out windows or what have you.”
Senior citizens may have a difficult time keeping their blocks clean, and some have contacted the CDC for help, Collazzo said.
He said the new arrangement also allows the CDC to address specific problems. For example, on the even-numbered side of the 3500 block of Cottman, tenants in apartments above businesses have been leaving their trash out early, Collazzo said. One person also dumped a small oven on the sidewalk. Collazzo said he called Lutz, who quickly cleaned up the area.
Collazzo said the workers have also removed branches after recent thunderstorms and have begun trimming weeds that have grown through cracks in the sidewalk.
People not putting out their trash properly for pick-up generates the most work for the crew, Lutz said. Circulars and hand-delivered restaurant menus, along with general litter that is discarded by cars and pedestrians, are the other main sources of trash, Lutz said.
“People are slobs,” he said. “As fast as they put it in their mouth, they throw it out the window.”
“Although it’s supplying a job for us, it’s a job I’d rather not do,” Lutz added. “If I sound a little frustrated, it’s because I am, and I’m sure a lot of Philadelphians are. I’m not the only one.”
Lutz said he and his workers will go onto a person’s lawn and remove newspapers or fliers that have piled up.
Collazzo credited state Sen. Christine Tartaglione with helping the CDC acquire the grant to fund the cleaning initiative. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org