By Alexander Dworkowitz
While bustling during the day, parts of downtown Flushing become eerily quiet late at night. But Tuesday and Thursday nights now have a little more bustle.
The city has allocated $11,000 in funding for street sweepers to clean the streets in downtown Flushing late at night twice a week.
The money comes from Councilman John Liu’s (D-Flushing) discretionary funds.
“It’s to preserve the quality of life for all of us,” Liu told a news conference last Thursday morning announcing the venture.
Downtown Flushing has a reputation for being dirty. Many say sanitation services is the largest problem facing the busy area, and some have even called downtown Flushing “a sewer.”
For years the sweepers have cleaned the streets of downtown Flushing in the morning seven days a week.
During that time, there is no parking on many of the streets in order to allow the sweepers to move freely at the edge of the sidewalk.
But the new late-night cleaning shift will not result in parking changes. Few cars park in downtown Flushing around midnight, when the sanitation vehicles are expected to go through. The trucks will simply go around the cars that are parked on the streets, Liu said.
The city will clean the area between Northern Boulevard, Sanford Avenue, Prince Street and Union Street, the councilman said.
It is not the first time Liu has used his discretionary funds to help cleanup downtown Flushing.
Last year he appropriated funds for 10 additional garbage cans in downtown Flushing as well as the replacement of 14 cans with larger, 230-pound Stanley cans. He also worked to keep supplemental basket service for downtown Flushing, which his predecessor Julia Harrison had funded through her office.
Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, which covers Flushing, credited the initiatives with bettering the look of the area.
“Our downtown is looking so much better with the sweeping that we are getting and the additional basket pickups,” she said.
Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, who traveled to downtown Flushing for the announcement of the new service, agreed with Bitterman.
“We have seen great improvements in the area,” he said.
Not all of the cleaning has come from public money. Two business groups, a Chinese collaboration called Destination Flushing and the Korean-American Association of Flushing, have paid for workers to clean parts of the downtown area.
Liu hopes the private work will be replaced by a larger package of sanitation services provided by a Business Improvement District, which the councilman expects to be in place by the end of the year.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.