Police officers from the 72nd Precinct, representatives of the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE), and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca gathered at Eighth Avenue and 55th Street on Friday, September 1 to announce efforts to clean the busy shopping district which has been plagued by excessive garbage as well as to limit crime in the area.
Menchaca and Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez, the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct, introduced two initiatives.
“This is a community that is plagued by so many issues, including illegal dumping and over-capacity trash bins,” said Menchaca, who announced that $150,000 in City Council funding would be dedicated to street cleaning and trash removal along Eighth Avenue as part of NYC Cleanup Initiative. In addition, Menchaca said that $50,000 had been allocated to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) “for extra corner waste basket pickups.”
He also acknowledged ACE which helps clean Eighth Avenue. “They do a great job of picking up trash, packing it for Sanitation so it’s easier to take trash out,” Menchaca said.
ACE itself is a job readiness program that lasts four to six months for individuals that seek employment.
Elbert Copeland, a supervisor for the ACE crew, explained how the group has improved the area. “We want to keep the communities nice and clean and keep people coming,” he told this paper. “We clean and if there are any type of problems with the businesses or anything that we can take care of, we’re always willing and happy to do that. It’s not easy cleaning up after someone else’s trash and garbage. It’s a humbling experience.”
ACE has worked on Eighth Avenue for about eight months. “It’s improved heavily since we started,” Copeland said. “The streets would be covered. With so many people around, you would see as much trash and no one wants to come to a restaurant when you have a whole bunch of trash nearby. We just want to do our best to keep it clean.”
Gonzalez discussed the installation of a new street security camera at Eighth Avenue and 55th Street. “It’s been up a few weeks,” he said, adding that he is hoping to get more on the avenue. “When you’re using technology in this manner, it’s always a great thing,” he said. “We are using it in a positive way to help us in our endeavor to make it safer.”
“NYPD cameras are now here for us and our community and we’re really excited about it,” added Menchaca.