A new initiative to clean up Flushing got underway last week outside the historic St. George’s Episcopal Church on Main Street.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) organized area elected officials, volunteers and Home Depot to get behind his project to power wash streets for a cleaner and less smelly environment.
“I am starting the CleanFlushing Initiative to raise awareness of the difference we can make together to improve the quality of life in our community,” Kim said. “Everyone here has a role to play.”
The assemblyman noted that downtown Flushing is the fourth largest commercial district in the city and a major transit hub, so maintaining the streets is a major concern.
Home Depot is providing two power pressure washers. Work will be carried out by volunteers from such groups as One Flushing, Asian Americans for Equality, the Flushing Chinese Business Association, the Flushing Business Improvement District, Queens Botanical Garden and the Korean American Association of Queens.
Community members can recommend sites for cleaning or volunteer to help by going to CleanFlushing.org or by calling Kim’s district office at (718) 939-0195. Sign-up forms are also available at his office at 136-20 38 Ave., Suite 10A, in Flushing.
Kim said he got the idea for the program after getting complaints from the pastor of St. George’s, the Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, about unsanitary conditions around the church caused, he said, by MTA bus drivers.
Benitez had written to the MTA about moving the bus stops and alerting the agency to the problems. According to the pastor, bus drivers have been seen urinating on the side walls of the church on 38th and 39th avenues. “This is an offensive practice and the stench they leave behind is intolerable,” he wrote.
The problems began in 2002 when three bus stops were placed in front of the Main Street entrance to the church. Although the MTA replied to the church’s complaints, no solutions were offered.
Kim believes the MTA should change the location of the stops and warn drivers against egregious behavior. He has also written to the agency but has not heard back and promises to follow up.
“The village of Flushing, and all its marvelous chaotic diversity, is home to many nations in search of the American dream. The cleanliness of Flushing should reflect the quality of our vision,” Benitez said in joining Kim’s campaign.
Also standing behind the cleanup effort are state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing). “Littering is a disrespect to our neighborhood and we are sending a message that we will not stand for it,” Stavisky said.
The program will continue during the winter months, weather permitting and previously cleaned locations will be maintained.
Although most of the work will be carried out in the downtown area, it will extend as far as the Broadway Flushing Long Island Rail Road stop. Kim said members of the Broadway Flushing Homeowners Association have complained to his office about conditions around the station.