MARY BOZZA watched with pleasure recently as workers in bright yellow vests picked up litter and swept the sidewalks on West Passyunk and Snyder avenues between Broad and 18th streets.
"It's a pleasure to see the streets clean," said Bozza, 49. "It's healthier to be clean. Nobody wants to go to a dirty place."
The workers were cleaning up as part of the Newbold Community Development Corp.'s new Corridor Cleaning Program, which kicked off April 4 in an effort to revitalize the two commercial corridors through "cleaning and greening."
"Six months ago every block was full of trash and it didn't feel safe," said Tim Lidiak, president of the Newbold CDC, in South Philly. "Now, [the area] is almost litter-free.
"The end-point of the program is to improve the perception of safety and make people feel more comfortable and attract new investments."
To that end, the CDC pays three to five workers to cldean the Passyunk corridor four days a week for 32 hours, Lidiak said.
The workers are provided through Horizon Employment Services, an affiliate of Horizon House which serves people with disabilities, he said.
Lidiak said that on the first day of the program, workers collected 1,500 gallons of trash. On the second day, they collected 1,400 gallons, and on the third day 1,250 gallons. The average since has been 150 gallons per cleanup, he said.
At the nearby Mediterranean Cafe, Zach Mouloudj, who works there part time, had nothing but praise for the program.
"The program is good and [the workers] really clean," he said. "The people are happy and I see everybody respect [the workers]."
Lidiak said the cost of cleaning runs around $1,000 per month, an expense covered by donations of about $10,000 he sought from local businesses and a $5,000 grant through the Philadelphia Water Department's Soak It Up! Adoption program.
Josh Sklaroff, general manager and part-owner of the Philly Pretzel Factory at McKean and Broad streets, was the first person Lidiak asked to donate money for the cleaning and the first to give.
"As a small business, I don't have a lot of capital to give, but donating space and free pretzels is a great way to be involved in the community," said Sklaroff, who allows the workers to store waste bins, brooms and other cleaning supplies at Philly Pretzel Factory and provides end-of-shift pretzels.
Lidiak said the CDC's goal for this year is to get more businesses involved in keeping the area clean and to attract more donations. "Once people see what you're doing, the fundraising gets easier," he said.
Lang Tran, owner of Lang's Fruit & Produce at 16th and Snyder, is glad to have help keeping the area clean. Known for keeping his sidewalks tidy, he said the area was always dirty but is now much better.
"I sweep up in my corner," he said, "but now they come clean up all the time. It's beautiful."