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.