By Alexander Dworkowitz
Homeless workers hired by business leaders to clean up downtown Flushing have begun to target signs posted on lampposts as part of a spring campaign, officials announced Monday.
Destination Flushing Inc., a group of Flushing businessmen, also plans to hang up more than 70 American flags on Main Street over the next month, said Timothy Chuang, the organization's chairman.
In November, the newly formed Destination Flushing signed a $60,000 contract with the Doe Fund, Inc. to have workers with the organization clean up streets in downtown Flushing.
A non-profit organization, the Doe Fund hires homeless people living in shelters to sweep streets and bag trash in neighborhoods throughout the city.
With the onset of spring, the three workers assigned to Flushing have started to tear down signs from lampposts and repaint them, said Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing).
“We want to make Flushing spotless,” said Liu, who asked the Doe Fund workers to enforce city law banning posted signs on lampposts.
The hiring of the Doe Fund was part of a recent push to improve sanitation services in downtown Flushing. Residents have complained of dirt and grime in downtown Flushing for years, and Liu has made cleaning the streets a priority of his administration.
In the four months since the Doe Fund workers started, they have earned many praises, said Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7.
“The office has received favorable phone calls indicating that Flushing is really taking on a new look,” Bitterman said.
Doe Fund workers Freddie Williams, Andrew Jackson and administrator Allen Forest kicked off the spring campaign by scraping off posters taped to a pole at the entrance to the Flushing Long Island Rail Road stop. Ironically, the posters were from Meilin Tan, the Republican assemblyman candidate who lost to current Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing).
“This is nothing political,” Liu joked.
The Doe Fund contract expires in November. By that time, the Flushing Business Improvement District is expected to be up and running. The Doe Fund workers, however, may continue to clean downtown Flushing if their company wins the city's contract for the BID.
In addition to paying for the cleanup, Destination Flushing leaders also hope to put up American flags and yellow ribbons on about 70 poles on Main Street over the next month to honor the U.S. military effort in Iraq.
“We'll show our support for the troops,” Chuang said.
The flags will cost the business group between $2,000 and $3,000, Chuang said.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.