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Party House Draws Police, Neighbor's Ire

Residents report quality of life disturbance on Cotton Street.

Although party houses sometimes feel like the norm in Manayunk, one Cotton Street property went too far, neighbors said.

Constant noise, public vomiting and urination, and destroyed furniture was the scene Manayunk Neighborhood Council member Hilary Langer described at the civic's Wednesday meeting.

"This is the story most Friday and Saturday nights—and it's one, I know, happens on many Manayunk streets—but it's at a house right next to us," Langer said.

Darlene Messina, who shared more information in an email to  Patch, said she's "sick, tire and angry," with the ever-present problem.

"We arrived home Friday night @ 12:05 a.m. and found vomit along our steps and violently smashed furniture all over the porch, sidewalk, and some of it landed on our porch. 
The sight was frightening. Did someone get hurt? A fight, an explosion?  
I rang the bell—no answer—as they usually do not answer when they are drunk. 
I then knocked hard on the door and the door pushed open.
Nobody was home.
We called the police... and soon after the arrival of police, 1 of the tenants staggered up the street @ 1:15 a.m."  

A Bad Egg

Long-time members of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council know the struggle with party houses generally follows a pattern.

New students move off-campus into Manayunk, throw wild parties, get busted by the Philadelphia Police and keep it quieter afterward. But in Messina and Langer's case, the tenants are professionals and have not been swayed but normal methods.

"When I have spoken to them, they are annoyed that I'm infringing on their personal right to party. It's the prevailing attitude for young students all the way up to young professionals," he said.

David Bass, also a MNC member, has dealt with annoying neighbors. He often tries to welcome them into the neighborhood, let them know they are impacting other people's lives. With these residents, he said, nothing has worked.

With college students, the civic has leverage in that it can contact the school and work with its security. He suggests a similar approach with the young professionals and their employers.

"When you have leverage, and I know it's a cold-blooded approach, you have to hit them where it hurts. Do you think these are the kind of employees any company wants?" he asked.

For the Cotton Street issue, 5th District Police Community Relations Officer Charles Kline reported Wednesday that he's spoken with both the tenants and the property owners. 

"I read them the riot act and said some words I can't repeat at this meeting," Kline said. "My ultimate goal is to get them out. And I said that to the owner. He doesn't want parties with 70, 80 people on his property."

If the problem persists, Kline said he would daily monitor and ticket every offense he witnessed.

Bigger Neighborhood Problem

On this specific issue, Langer, Bass and the civic said they appreciated Kline's effort and expected results. However, an endemic quality of life problem exists in Manayunk.

Langer can accept confronting and reporting nuisance properties, but wishes other homeowners similarly voiced outrage.

"There are still at least 50 percent homeowners here. I would really like to see everyone step up," he said.

Messina, who has worked on quality of life issues with the MNC for years, said she's done working with committees.

"I also have decided not to participate in any other civic activities in Manayunk —with the exception of the direct impacts on my street. I have worked tirelessly for 20 years trying to improve (MY) quality of life. and in doing so, have worked to improve all residents' quality of life," she said. "Stakeholders have done NOTHING to mitigate these chronic quality of life impacts over the past 20 years further compounded by ineffectual city government and enforcement."

Others were more hopeful.

Discussing improvements in 2012 at Philadelphia International Cycling Championship through Manayunk, Bass admitted he was initially a skeptic. However, he agreed that police presence and neighborhood involvement worked.

"The bike race changed me. I now know it's at least possible to reach these people," he said.

Although residents credited Kline's work, some, like MNC Vice President John Hunter, advised a proactive method.

"Inevitably, (Kline's role) is reactionary. So what do we do?" he asked.

The officer said St. Joseph's University, in its orientation, emphasizes that students should respect their surroundings. Neighbors suggested meeting students at the school early in the year, which Kline encouraged.

"If we go up as a group and talk to them at , I think we might be able to socialize them," Bass said.

To report problematic houses, residents may call the 5th District at 215-686-3050 or notify 311 through its website.

satisfydmind October 05, 2012 at 12:31 PM
My fiance own & live on Tower St and I know exactly what she is talking about. We call those couple of houses "party town". It's disgusting just to walk by the house w/my dog, food, trash, liquid allover the place. Last year was not so bad, and we had hopes thing were turning for the the better, but that's not the case. On top of the lack of parking, this is a big part of our decision to move out of Manayunk, as sad as that sounds... but now we wonder, who will want to buy a house on Keg Street???!!!! :-( Glad to see we aren't the only ones who are complaining.
Debbie Thomas October 05, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Sorry to hear of your decision to move, but I don't blame you. It sounds like a terrible situation. I wonder how many other decent people are run out of Manayunk by these "party central" houses. Of course you'll get people who say that compared to violent crime in other Philly neighborhoods this is nothing. However to me IT IS something when homeowners find vomit on their steps and furniture smashed. While this is not true of all of the young people who are renting, way too many don't have any type of respect for the residents.
Judith Gotwald October 05, 2012 at 02:27 PM
You are asking for law suits if you inform someone's employer . . . and end up not having all the facts. Bad idea.
rich October 05, 2012 at 06:52 PM
These people need to take responsibility of their actions ,and that's a fact. I would have no problem calling someone's employer . Professional by day, idiot drunk by night.
Duke October 05, 2012 at 08:42 PM
There is a Speakeasy somewhere on Green Lane Last night into the early morning hours hoards of boistrious juveniles were up and down Green Lane some of them looked younger then 18 years old. I hope we have Philadelphia Police patrol Green Lane this weekend. As these young people urinate, throw thrash on the sidewalks and private property. The State Police should be notified as they will enforce the Liquor laws in Pa. Also notify the Colleges if the law breakers serving these kids are College students. When I find out the location of the speakeasy I will notify the State Police. I'm not going to waste my breath talking to the owners and renters of the house being used as a Speakeasy. I'm hoping that the Philadelphia Police patrol Green lane this weekend maybe they can determine the location. The operators of these Speak easys should be arrested as they charge these young kids for the beer and liquor and the kids end up throwing up on the streest and private properties not to mention all the mischief they get into.
J. October 05, 2012 at 08:47 PM
There is a party House somewhere on Green Lane. These party Houses are causing hoards of young people under 21 years of age to be walking and yelling up and down Green Lane especially over the weekend. These Party Houses are called speakeasies. They are illegal.They operate without a liquor license and serve young people beer and liquor for a price. This causes the young intoxicated juveniles to walk and run up and down Green Lane and act boisterous, throwing their thrash all over Green Lane, urinating on the sidewalks and private property etc and they get involved in more mischief. Last night numerous intoxicated young people some looking no older then 16 years old were causing disturbances up and down Green Lane. When I find out what the address is I will contact the Pa. State Police and the Liquor Control Board. Some of these young kids were throwing up on the sidewalks. The best course of action is to contact the State Police as they enforce the Liquor laws. Don't waste your breath talking to the owners or renters of the properties. Also contact their Schools if they are College students who are violating the Pa Liquor Laws and the LCB. The owners and renters of these houses who are breaking the laws should be arrested. I hope we have some Philadelphia Police Patrols of Green lane this weekend late at night and into the early morning hours. Many Taxi cab drivers bring some of the young people to the Speakeasies.
Alawishes J. Kornberg October 05, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Green lane sure could use Police patrols especially on the weekends and into the early morning hours. It sure was tough to fall asleep last night with all the racket.
Tom October 05, 2012 at 10:00 PM
When I was growing up in Roxborough, especially the teen years from 1976 to 1981, the cops were much more vigilant than nowadays. They would bust you for keg parties, stereos too loud (car and home), car exhaust too loud, etc... But Roxborough, Manayunk, and the 5th district give police an easy assignment. The cops get lazy and enjoy an easy beat. I knew a cop years ago that said most cops wanted to be transferred to the 5th for the ease of the work load. I visit my mother a few times a week, and notice that it is a much dirtier neighborhood, and traffic is just nastier. People who moved onto my mothers street from south philly dont even bother to pick up trash in front of their house. It sits there for days sometimes. It really does make me long for the good old days
J. October 05, 2012 at 11:04 PM
I don't think there are many Police Officers in the 5th Police District. There is a lot of crime in our area. I know the line is that this is the safest area of the city. Big Deal! There is also the safest area to live in Afghanistan. Also the crime statistics only show the reported crime as many people feel the Police can't do anything and don't call. From what I understand is many of the Officers are detailed out of the 5th District to other Districts. In the 1950's, 60's 70's and 80's there were many more Police Officers patrolling the 5th District but those days are over and will never return. Consequentlymany residents and in particular the senior residents have been left to fend for themselves. I have no criticism for the officers in our District as they have no control over the amount of Police in our area and they only do what they are told to do by the powers that be. Also it appears the 911 Dispatchers ask so many questions when a person calls, that by the time the Dispatcher sends a Patrol Officer the offender or offenders have left the area. But come on: Would it spoil some vast eternal City Plan if the Police sent a Patrol Officer up and down Green Lane once in a while?
Debbie Thomas October 05, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Yes, the residents in Manayunk and Roxborough are paying a pretty big share of the taxes in the city, yet residents issues are constantly pushed aside or ignored. I've heard the same thing about these neighborhoods are where the police are assigned who have seniority or are near retirement. Also, I don't know if this is true or not, as I've never been on Ridge after 9:00 p.m. I was talking to a woman who said that's when a lot of the scum crawls out and walks up and down the Ridge. I am not sure if this is true or she was vastly exagerrating. I have noticed many skid row types roaming around when I come home from work. They hang out where Wachovia Bank used to be.
duke and J are obviously of the same familiarity, meaning, they are the same person or close to each other. There is positively no speakeasy on Green Lane, you are merely describing a party.
J. October 06, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Well then everyone is in agreement that there is a Party House on Green Lane.
Alawishes J. Kornberg October 06, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Good article Sam and very informative. Also a good response by Police and in particularly Police Officer Kline. "I read them the riot act and said some words I can't repeat at this meeting," Kline said. "My ultimate goal is to get them out. And I said that to the owner. He doesn't want parties with 70, 80 people on his property." The Police did a great job on the Cotton Street issue. We have to give credit where credit is due. The Police did everything they possibly could to correct the Cotton street problem.
J. October 06, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I second your post Mike. Police Officer Kline and the 5th Police District did a great job on the Cotton Street issue.
Alawishes J. Kornberg October 06, 2012 at 04:41 PM
It doesn't matter that Duke and J may be of the same familarity as there are numerous residents who feel the same way J and Duke feel. When people do not have a liquor license and charge people for alcohol and beer with some of the patrons under the legal age, there are Pa State Liquor laws being broken. It does not matter if these houses are called: Speakeasies or Party houses the results are the same. Neighbors have to clean the discarded thash, garbage and vomit off of their sidewalks the morning after the " Parties" are over. Sometimes these intoxicated kids turn over flower pots etc. There is a sound reason for these Liquor laws, one of them is to protect teenagers from harming themselves by preventing people from serving and selling these young teenagers alcohol. It's sad when you see these young kids throwing up on the sidewalks in the late evenings and early mornings.

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