A year since Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s premiere graffiti cleanup hotline started ringing off the hook, the local pol is making more moves to clean city streets with the help of some boys in blue.
“Garbage, just like graffiti, is a blight on our community and affects our quality of life,” said Gentile from the entrance-way of Bay Ridge bar and restaurant Salty Dog on Friday, September 5 where he announced a district-wide partnership with the Department of Sanitation (DOS) and The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program to increase both street sweeping and bagging as well as scheduled basket pickup by sanitation. “[Garbage] increases store vacancy rates, decreases property values and presents a sense of disorder while negatively impacting our civic pride.”
According to Gentile, the deal – part of a $3.5 billion city clean-up initiative – will involve crews clad in blue made up of men in a year-long transitional program servicing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst streets and sidewalks for six hours a day.
Those crews will dedicate one day a week to Third Avenue from 69th Street to 88th Street, and two days to both 13th Avenue from 68th Street to 79th Street and 18th Avenue from 68th Street to 86th Street.
“It brings our service right down to the grass roots all over the city, not just for BIDs but for places the community organizes and the council supports,” said George McDonald, founder and president of the Doe Fund from the steps of Salty Dog, offering up a round of applause for his crews.
The Bay Ridge councilmember also successfully struck a deal with the DOS that will see extra basket pickups on Fifth Avenue from 68th Street to 86th Street, 13th Avenue from 75th Street to 79th Street, Bay Ridge Avenue from Ridge Boulevard to Fifth Avenue and 18th Avenue from 81st Street to 86th Street – the latter a commercial corridor Coney Island Councilmember Mark Treyger went in on securing funds for, and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura called a nightmare.
“I applaud the basket pickup but on 18th Avenue, we do not have baskets,” said Scissura, begging Community Board 11 to “put back the baskets.” “Everywhere in the city of New York has baskets, except 18th Avenue.”
Eighteenth Avenue resident and business-owner Carlo Lauricella agreed.
“I have seen the great days of 18th Avenue and I have seen the downfall of 18th Avenue,” said the 54-year resident adding that 82nd Street, where his business is located, has become a “dumping ground” for small contractors and anyone looking to dispose of bulk items. “Finally, Gentile and Treyger are taking on this problem on their own.”
Lauricella and Scissura joined the handful of local Business Improvement District (BID) and merchant association leaders that were on hand for the announcement in remaining hopeful that this partnership is what will make all the difference.
“This is a small town in a big city and no matter what happens in the world, we always know that in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, we are one community we are one family,” said Scissura, a Bensonhurst boy himself. “The reason that this community has always grown … has been because we’ve always come together.”
“Our end goal is to just keep New York City clean and beautiful,” said DOS Citywide Community Affairs Officer Ignazio Terranova, also commending the team effort that brought this deal to life. “If it takes an army to make that happen, then we welcome it.”
Jim Clark, president of the Fifth Avenue BID, said simply, “A clean street means better business, no questions asked.”