BY TRONE DOWD
Efforts to keep the streets of Southeast Queens clean have been bolstered by the office of Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who is allocating $125,000 towards additional sanitation resources in the neighborhoods of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.
Richards held a press conference Tuesday morning to officially kick off the services coming to the district, which include additional pick up times, mechanical broom service, 35 weeks of additional basket service, as well as basket service for Merrick Boulevard from Springfield Boulevard to Hook Creek Boulevard on Mondays and Fridays. According to the councilman, public trash cans were often overflowing with waste along busy corridors in these neighborhoods. He hopes that this issue will no longer plague the district’s streets.
“We want to keep Laurelton clean,” Richards said. “One of the key things that communities have to have to attract businesses and clientele is clean streets. The sanitation department has done a great job with the resources that they have, but we all know too well that it isn’t enough. The city has cutback on a lot of the funding that they used to have which allowed them to pick up baskets six days a week.”
An additional $75,000 was allocated towards the implementation of 21 new trash baskets throughout the community, as well as sanitation work from the Wildcat Service Corporation. The non-profit will help remove graffiti from neighborhoods, enforce litter and illegal dumping laws.
Richards said a gap in sanitation funding in the city budget has hit his district particularly hard. Luckily, the city council has worked to help fill that need. In fact, the Southeast Queens stimulus is part of a bigger city wide effort to clean up the city.
“We are stepping it up in the council with the NYC Clean Up initiative,” he said. “It is a $10 million initiative. This issue isn’t just central to southeast Queens. I can tell you it crosses party party lines, socio-economics lines, demographics and ethnicities. Everyone one wants clean streets.”
Community partner Robert Glover, President of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton, was thrilled with the news.
“This has been something we’ve been fighting for for a long time,” he told the Press of Southeast Queens.
“Getting sanitation to clean our streets is finally coming to light. This year, 2018, will be the year that Laurelton and Merrick Blvd really sparks. It did me a lot of good this morning to see sanitation was out taking up the garbage and to see Wildcat out doing their job.”
When asked about how the city will enforce proper use of public trash cans in the area, Richards said additional basket services included additional litter patrol by the city’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Nick Circharo, Community Affairs Liaison for the DSNY elaborated on these efforts.
“Our enforcement and district personnel are out monitoring business corridors and neighborhoods to make sure that people are complying with rules and regulations,” Circharo said. “We often do enforcement stakeouts where you monitor a chronic dumping area for improper disposal. We are always watching.”
While the DSNY will keep an eye out for improper use of the new baskets, Richards asked that the community stay vigilant for any sort of illegal activity, the most common of which being residents disposing of household garbage at public cans.
“Sanitation comes at least twice a week to your home,” Richards said. “You should be disposing of your trash at your home. I think that has been central to seeing public cans overflowing.”
Richards promised that similar efforts will be coming to the Rockaways this year. Details on that will be revealed in the coming weeks.