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Queens Chronicle

Taking the streets into their own hands

A city proposal to sweep roadways hasn’t passed; LIC group forms

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:15 am, Thu Mar 21, 2013.

In lieu of any action on a Department of Sanitation proposal to introduce street cleaning to parts of Long Island City, a group of residents have taken cleanliness into their own hands.

About a dozen neighbors created LIC ECO — Long Island City Environmental Community Organization. The group plans on applying for permits, which take at least two months, to close down the streets so volunteers can take to the roadways with their brooms and trash bags, according to one of its founders, Moitri Savard.

“We didn’t want to just wait,” Savard said. “Cleanup takes months.”

Shortly after Hurricane Sandy, about 450 signatures, which has climbed to about 640, were submitted to Community Board 2 asking the DOS to propose a street cleaning plan for Hunters Point, the most southwestern portion of LIC. Street sweeping could have prevented flooding by ridding roadways of debris that plugged road drains, Savard said.

The department came back in January with a proposal to sweep between 45th Avenue to the north, Jackson Avenue to the east, Borden Avenue to the south and the water to the west. Street-cleaning regulations would go into effect for 90 minutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays: from 9 to 10:30 a.m. north of 47th Road and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. south of 47th Road within the proposed boundaries. The south and east sides of the streets would be cleaned on Wednesdays and the north and west sides would be cleaned on Thursdays. If drivers always park in the same spot, they would only need to move their car once a week.

Chairman Joe Conley at the last CB 2 meeting on March 7 reiterated there is no deadline for a decision on the DOS plan.

Since the proposal was made neighbors have spoken against the plan. A petition opposing street sweeping was presented. It now has about 750 signatures.

“We asked the opposition to come up with another proposal, which they haven’t,” Savard said.

Those who disagree with alternate side parking say they submitted plenty.

“Numerous ideas, from resident parking permits to freeing up areas such as 48th Avenue and obsolete no-parking zones have been put forth,” CB 2 member Kenny Greenberg said. “Additionally, specific equipment and methods that do not require moving cars have been proposed. There are some, such as myself, who have suggested a once-a-month approach. In fact I provided CB 2 with a list of major cities where this is practiced.”

The issue has been discussed at several community board meetings and at a forum at PS 1 on Jan. 16. At the February CB 2 meeting a once-a-month sweeping plan was met with nods of approvals from people on both sides of the issue, but some board members said resident permits and parking lots were improbable.

A dozen speakers spoke out again against street cleaning at last Thursday’s meeting, saying it would be a waste of time, would take away hard-to-come-by parking spots and that the sidewalks are what’s dirty, not the streets.

“Hello, Earth to community board, do you get this? There is nowhere else to park,” LIC resident Nigel Rollings said. “The neighborhood is saturated.”

Rollings suggested the city invest in sidewalk cleaners that look like riding lawn mowers. These would allow the sidewalks to get a scrubbing without having to move cars.

Among the many in opposition to street cleaning, one resident spoke in favor of some sort of parking regulation. He said that on his block, 44th Drive and 21st Street, people park for weeks at a time, which he disagrees with.

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