8th Avenue merchants and pols launch cleanup initiative

A 10-block stretch of Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn’s Chinatown—one of the borough’s busiest commercial strips—will be getting a spruce-up thanks to the efforts and financial support of a coalition of community and business organizations.

Beginning on Friday, August 8, the sidewalks between 50th and 60th Streets will be the target of thrice-weekly—every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.—street cleaning and graffiti/advertisement sticker removal by a professional cleaning crew.

The crew will be hired with funds donated primarily by the First American International Bank (FAIB) and will be selected with help from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The workers will also be wearing T-shirts sponsored by the Brooklyn Community Improvement Association (BCIA) and some businesses will have an “I Invest In 8th Avenue” poster in their windows.

“Eighth Avenue is our home,” said Jason Chan, senior vice president at FAIB, by way of explaining why the bank wanted to not only be involved, but help take the lead. “We hope this is a long-lasting partnership for a safer, cleaner place for everyone to enjoy.”

“We have wanted to clean Eighth Avenue for a long time and now, with the support of Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and businesses, we can start,” added Rosita Pei, BCIA president. “Now we need community cooperation. We are putting signs in participating store windows and will make a map [showing visitors] where to go.”

According to Chamber President Carlo Scissura, the cleanup initiative is beginning as a three-month pilot program “because it takes time to get it off the ground” and “with additional funding in the future, we hope for more [than three] days a week.

“We want Brooklyn’s Chinatown to be the jewel in the crown of Chinatowns across America,” Scissura added. “Our vision is simple: make sure Eighth Avenue is safe and enjoyable so that more families come and shop.”

Meanwhile, both Abbate and Menchaca pledged to continue to support Council and Assembly funding of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and its small business efforts.

Local merchants such as FAIB will also be taking the lead in educating residents, reminding them not to litter and to take ownership of their community.

“This area has been overlooked for too long,” said Menchaca. “We’re asking the community to join us and help teach their neighbors—especially our kids and students—about safe streets and Vision Zero, as well. If we can get kids on board, we can see beautiful things happen.”

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