Northeast: Dumping and Graffiti Create Problems

Just some of the tires dumped by ConRail's train track.

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Short dumping is a problem all over the city and has been a problem for years, but in Holmesburg it seems to be an issue that is bringing down the community.

Just some of the tires dumped by ConRail's train track.
Some of the tires dumped by ConRail’s train track.

Short dumping is the illegal act of disposing trash and debris on a street or vacant lot. With so many auto shops and other businesses in Holmesburg along State Road the area can be viewed as an industrial area. Industrial areas tend to be dark at night which allows for people to  dump their trash and other items.

One area in particular is the railroad tracks at James Street and Bleigh Avenue. There you can see trash, an amazing number of tires lying around and even a boat. So why isn’t it getting cleaned up? Who is responsible for this?

The railroad area with all the tire build up is owned by ConRail. Recently it has been notified of the problem and are looking into getting the mess cleaned up.

Steve Alper, owner of Alper Automotives, has his business right at the tracks and said he wishes it would get cleaned up. While he said he doesn’t think it effects customers coming in, he knows it doesn’t look appealing to customers. In regards to the neighborhood, he said it makes the community look worse.

Mike Rossetti, owner of Rossetti’s Auto Collision Services, who shares the same building with Alper declined to comment on the situation. Rossetti did comment that the dumping in that area is nothing new and has been a problem for years.

Nick Grigoras, president of World Auto Service, had to clean out the dumped tires left on his property himself.
Nick Grigoras, president of World Auto Service, had to clean out the dumped tires left on his property himself.

Nick Grigoras, president of World Auto Service, has his shop on Rhawn Street right along the train tracks and has had a problem with short dumping as well. Grigoras was warned by the city a few months ago because someone went and dumped close to 700 tires on his property over night.

“It cost me money to clean it up,” Grigoras said. “It looks bad for the neighborhood and it looks bad for my business.”

Since the tires were on his property, Grigoras had to pay to have them removed. He is currently working with an architect to build a wall so no one can dump anything on his property again.

“I had no fence,” Grigoras said. “It took me a long time to clean it up. Now I have to spend money to get a wall so people can’t get in.”

A representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., met with people from ConRail recently to get the area cleaned up. Another meeting is scheduled for mid-May.

“Regarding additional trash at the site ConRail said that it may have been dumped by a business located next to the site,” said Brady’s office in a statement. “ConRail will investigate whether or not the business was rented from ConRail.”

John Enright, a ConRail spokesperson, confirmed that ConRail is investigating to see whose property the tires are on. Enright said if they are ConRail’s property, then the company will clean up the site. The company is currently looking into finding the people responsible for the short dumping.

Rich Frizell, president of the Holmesburg Civic Association, said he is aware of the problem at James Street and Bleigh Avenue. Frizell said he is talking to one of the businesses about a possible solution.

Holmesburg Civic Association President Rich Frizell said he is aware of the short dumping at ConRail;s train tracks.
Holmesburg Civic Association President Rich Frizell said he is aware of the short dumping at ConRail’s train tracks.

“If we get cameras up there then maybe we can stop some of the dumping,” Frizell said. “It’s not that much money to take it and dump it legally.”

Alper has cameras on his building, but said they can’t see the people doing it because it’s so dark by the train tracks at night.

“If there was a street light there it would help,” Alper said. “You’d be able to see them. We can see the car coming around and dumping the stuff but we can’t see what kind of car it was because it’s dark. People might just see that it’s lit up and then they wouldn’t want to do it in the light.”

The Tacony CDC announced Tuesday the “SAFECAM” grant program will help qualified Torresdale Avenue business owners install security cameras that can be remotely accessed by the Philadelphia Police Department.

Besides short dumping, graffiti is also a major problem in Holmesburg and Tacony. With these areas being so dark at night it has allows for people to come and graffiti on the walls of businesses and other buildings.

Christina Nicoletti, vice president of the Tacony Town Watch, said she wants the graffiti problem to stop. Nicoletti works with the 15th District police department so it can control the graffiti problem in the area.

“The people that have gotten back there and graffiti won’t be tolerated,” Nicoletti said.

The 15th District was unable to comment on the issue because of the ongoing investigation.

Councilman Bobby Henon, D-6th, said short dumping and graffiti go hand in hand. He said he has noticed the graffiti problem is at its highest peak during the spring and summer months.

“It invites kids and people who think you’re already in a blighted neighborhood that’s already ruined so they graffiti,” Henon said. “It continues to be an issue. Where there’s short dumping, there’s graffiti.”

It seems that no matter who you talk to about the graffiti issue they always seem to praise the Community Life Improvement Programs. One of the programs is the Graffiti Abatement Team.

The Graffiti Abatement Team is a free service which comes out and removes graffiti on public and private properties in the city. Thomas Conway, deputy managing director of the Community Life Improvement Program, said graffiti can only be maintained.

“We will never be able to eliminate graffiti vandalism,” Conway said. “The best we can do is maintain it by removing it as soon as possible.”

Tacony ranks as one of the worst areas in the city in regards to graffiti issues, Conway said .

“Tacony has a bigger graffiti problem than Holmesburg,” Conway said. “We collect graffiti data by ZIP code and 19135 is in the top 10 graffiti removal ZIP codes in the city.”

Henon said a solution to short dumping and graffiti will take a community effort. He said he wants people to call him or the police if they see any of these illegal activities occurring instead of taking actions into their own hands.

“Tacony needs some tender loving care,” Henon said. “There are some parts in this city and in this district that could use a little TLC.”