In response to the illegal dumping and chronic littering along commercial corridors, City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) has launched a private-public partnership cleanup program to address heavily trafficked business districts in southeast Queens — those along Liberty Avenue, and Guy R. Brewer, Sutphin and Rockaway boulevards.
“We have been able to secure funding in cooperation with the Department of Sanitation to pay for an additional day of basket pickup along all of those corridors,” Wills said at a press conference outside Sybil’s Restaurant and Bakery in Richmond Hill on Friday. “We’re walking the strips and we are asking our merchants to partner with us.”
Those business owners who decide to get on board will be asked to adopt a basket. They will be supplied with trash can liners so they can empty the receptacles themselves, should they become filled quicker than the twice a week they are emptied. Merchants should place the filled bag next to the receptacle.
“Unfortunately the Department of Sanitation can’t clean up every litter basket every day and as often as we would like to,” said DOS Commissioner John Dougherty. “So I think programs like the ones Councilman Wills has put here by coordinating the different groups in the community, so that the litter baskets will be picked up an extra day during the week, are beneficial.”
The Wildcat Service Corporation, a nonprofit organization, will give out the liners, place additional cans in certain places and try to make sure that the area around the cans is litter-free. The Richmond Hill Economic Development Corp. and 119th Avenue Merchants Association will be doing the same.
Wills allocated $15,000 to the DOS and $12,000 to Wildcat for the project during June budget negotiations, which took place before he was stripped of his earmarking privileges amid a probe into the potential misuse of taxpayer funds.
Wildcat has been partnering with the DOS for the last three years to help clean up the areas in the district hardest hit by foreclosures, as well as alleyways, residential streets and commercial corridors, according to David Saturn, the group’s director.
“We are looking forward to a long, continued relationship in not only helping hire people and getting them off of public assistance and training them and getting them gainful employment, but also in helping clean up the neighborhood,” Saturn said.
City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn), chairwoman of the Committee on Sanitation, also praised the program.
“At a time when we are recovering from Sandy, and at a time when there will be cutbacks in the budget, and the amount of services we will be able to provide in the City of New York is decreasing, it is critical that we engage in public-private partnerships,” James said. “And this is a prime example of a public-private partnership where you have civic engagement and corporate models, who are coming together to recognize a need in the neighborhood, and that is to keep the streets clean.”
A familiar green DOS public trash can was present outside Sybil’s Restaurant and Bakery, and owner Vilbert Bernard said the agency does a great job. He expects that it will only get better under the new program.
“We are blessed to have them,” Bernard said of the DOS workers. “They do a wonderful job.”