Northeast Times

Nutter visits ‘Needle Park’ to announce the fifth annual Spring Cleanup

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter vis­ited Kens­ing­ton’s McPh­er­son Square last week to an­nounce this year’s up­com­ing Philly Spring CleanUp.

The sun shone brightly on Kens­ing­ton’s McPh­er­son Square last week as May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter joined elec­ted of­fi­cials and a cadre of hard-work­ing loc­al vo­lun­teers to an­nounce this year’s fifth an­nu­al Philly Spring Cleanup.

The yearly event, a city­wide vo­lun­teer ef­fort to clean and green the City of Broth­erly Love, will be held on Sat­urday, April 14.

“We are go­ing to make sure that this year’s cleanup is the biggest and best ever,” the may­or told a gathered crowd on the af­ter­noon of March 6.

Since the be­gin­ning of the Philly Spring Cleanup ini­ti­at­ive, Nut­ter said, about 45,000 vo­lun­teers have helped gath­er 5.8 mil­lion pounds of trash.

Nut­ter also summoned Ray Gant, a Frank­ford res­id­ent who for sev­en years has been a com­munity pro­ject man­ager at the park at 601 E. In­di­ana Ave., to cel­eb­rate his work.

The park has long been known as “needle park” — used drug paraphernalia once littered the area — and Gant said that when he star­ted cleanups there, vo­lun­teers filled buck­ets with dirty, dan­ger­ous drug needles.

“When I first got here, we were put­ting the needles in these red bio­haz­ard buck­ets, and I’m telling you, we filled ’em up,” said Gant. “This isn’t just about clean­ing and mak­ing things green, it’s about health. I think this does lower crime. You really can see people act­ing dif­fer­ently.”

City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quiñones-Sanc­hez (D-7th dist.) also praised the vo­lun­teers for their hard work and thanked the may­or for mak­ing the trip to a park like McPh­er­son Square, which has had such a troubled his­tory.

“Fi­nally we are get­ting some at­ten­tion over here at McPh­er­son,” she said. “If folks or­gan­ize, the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to re­spond.”

Quiñones-Sanc­hez touched on the crime prob­lems that the com­munity faces on a daily basis and prom­ised that the re­cent gath­er­ing wasn’t just a hol­low show of sup­port.

“This isn’t about a press con­fer­ence; we are here to stay,” said the coun­cil­wo­man. “We are just as frus­trated as you are about the bad things go­ing on.”

An­oth­er City Coun­cil mem­ber in at­tend­ance, re­cently elec­ted Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.), said he looks for­ward to work­ing with the com­munity.

“We need your eyes and ears to know what’s go­ing on in the street,” he said. “In time, we will hold our heads up and say, ‘We did it.’”

Mi­chael DiB­er­ardinis, deputy may­or for en­vir­on­ment­al and com­munity re­sources, told the audi­ence that he hoped the event would show Kens­ing­ton neigh­bors that their elec­ted of­fi­cials have a sin­cere in­terest to help im­prove thecom­munity for every­one.

“It’s very im­port­ant for folks in the neigh­bor­hood to feel like the city is at their ser­vice,” said DiB­er­ardinis. “This cleanup ef­fort can lift up … the work of all people.”

Amy Dougherty, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Friends of the Free Lib­rary of Phil­adelphia, said that McPh­er­son Square’s cleanup has pro­gressed with help from her group. The park in­cludes one of the city’s re­main­ing lib­rar­ies built with fund­ing from in­dus­tri­al­ist and phil­an­throp­ist An­drew Carne­gie.

“Our vo­lun­teers went home to home around the neigh­bor­hood (to get vo­lun­teers for cleanups),” said Dougherty. “The re­sponse has been un­be­liev­able. We know that if you can get the neigh­bor­hoods in­volved, it helps the cleanups.” ••

This year’s city­wide cleanup will be held on April 14 (raind­ate is Sat­urday, April 28). For more in­form­a­tion or to re­gister a loc­al pro­ject, vis­it www.phillys­pringcleanup.com.

 

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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