TTF Diversity Committee: The impact of litter on Tacony Creek Park: Philly needs to do more!

By Luanda Morris, Board Member & Chair of the TTF Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee, and the DEI Committee

On Thursday, May 5, 2022, Philadelphia City Council held a public hearing to examine enforcement practices, preventative measures, and potential solutions necessary to address the widespread illegal dumping taking place in the City, and to explore ways to collaborate with City agencies to address this problem. As a Frankford/Northwood resident, illegal dumping in my community is an issue that impacts the quality of life of so many of us. I am tired of seeing dumped tires, mattresses, or construction stuff being dropped off in my neighborhood. As a TTF Watershed community Board member, my family and I use the park to connect with nature, watch birds, and walk for exercise. I often see litter and trash being dumped throughout the park, impacting the peace you seek when connecting with nature. Since the City has neglected to have trash cans accessible and available throughout the park, when walking in Tacony Creek Park, residents must carry their trash to dispose of it later. It is annoying and frustrating that the City of Philadelphia does not do more to ensure waste is removed from this nature space.

I believe that by the City of Philadelphia allowing litter and dumping to become the norm in my community, including Tacony Creek Park, it leads to more violence in our neighborhoods. I have seen the community surrounding Tacony Creek Park – Frankford, Olney, Juniata Park, Northwood, Feltonville – increasingly impacted by violence. Studies demonstrate that cleaner and greener neighborhoods can reduce violence. Charles Ellison, Philadelphia Citizen columnist Executive Producer, and Host of “Reality Check,” as well as ECO-WURD on WURD Radio (96.1FM/900AM) has authored articles on this topic, connecting trashy environments to the incidence of crime.* Philadelphia needs to be better. City leaders need to address this issue and take illegal dumping and litter as a threat to residents.

We need more trash cans in parks (coordinated with regular pick-up and waste disposal) so residents do not have to hold onto trash (and are less likely to throw litter in the streets). We need investments in city green spaces such as Tacony Creek Park and the communities surrounding the Park. We need a focused effort to eliminate illegal dumping and actual consequences for contractors who dispose of their waste this way. We need continued investment in Tree Philly and organizations focused on greener spaces in communities.

At TTF, we do our best to keep our watershed clean. We host weekly (Wednesday) and monthly (Saturday) cleanups with volunteers to keep the park and its gateways as clean as possible. We applaud and support the work of park neighbors to clean as well, including Bennett Compost, which hosts weekly (Thursday) cleanups, H Street neighbors, and the 215 Alliance. We know that there are other neighbors who take a lead in cleaning park and street areas. We are here to help, whether with tools and supplies, promotion, or coordination with the City. 

We are also in the process of developing a new Master Plan for Tacony Creek Park. We know that the cleanliness and safety of the park are critical challenges. We need to hear from you with your concerns about problems and ideas for this green space. Please contact us at 215-744-1853 or visit the Tacony Creek Park website

If you as a resident would like to report illegal dumping in your community, the City’s philly.gov website offers the following resources:

Additional information regarding illegal dumping:

*Studies by Charles Ellison on connecting trashy environments to the incidence of crime:

Reality Check: Could we Cut Philly Shootings by…up to 93 Percent? by Charles D. Ellison

One Word to Fix Philly’s Trash Crisis? Invest. by Charles D. Ellison

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