LIFELONG Manayunk resident John Teague has been fighting a battle for years against the drunks that he and other residents say converge on their tidy riverside community on weekend nights after they pour out of the bars on Main Street.
"It's just the sheer number of young people. There's not enough supervision, and that results in our property getting damaged," Teague, 50, said, adding that drunks often vomit or urinate on sidewalks and people's property.
Wednesday night, Teague and other neighbors made some headway in their fight at a meeting with bar owners, representatives from the District Attorney's Office and members of the state Liquor Control Enforcement. At New Umbria Baptist Church, on Main Street, residents and bar owners voiced their concerns.
In December, Assistant District Attorney Beth Grossman, chief of the Public Nuisance Task Force, and First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann walked in the neighborhood with residents into the wee hours of a Saturday morning to see firsthand what neighbors face.
"The night we walked, I didn't see one or two very intoxicated people. I saw dozens of them - and that's a December night," McCann said at Wednesday's meeting. "There's no question in my mind that there were overserved twentysomething kids out there."
Teague and neighbors, backed by Grossman, suggested that the bars pay to bring more police into the area for the busiest hours. But that overtime police detail would cost about $60 an hour per officer and patrol car, with a four-hour minimum. That's a steep investment, bar owners said, in addition to taxes and assessments they already pay.
"The thing is, too, with the 10 percent [liquor sales tax], it's not like it's hand over fist," said Tony Casselli, who owns Bayou Bar and Grill and Cactus Restaurant and Bar, on Main Street.
Residents also complained that local university students are bussed to Manayunk to hit the bars on weekends - a good idea in theory, they said, but an added nuisance to neighbors who hear the sounds of drunks as they head back to the buses after bars close.
"They're coming in droves. I don't understand it," Casper Baratta, 75, said of the groups that tend to congregate on his block not far off Main Street late at night. "It scares me."
Grossman and McCann assured neighbors that they would reach out to local universities to determine whether the buses are university-sponsored.
Grossman praised the bar owners who made it to the meeting and offered to take part in future conversations about the issue. She said that despite neighbors' frustrations, complaints to her task force about nuisance properties in the 5th Police District, which covers Manayunk, are rare.
"This is not an accusatory thing or an indicting thing," she said. "This is a collaborative effort to see what we can do."