Richmond Hill program will alleviate litter


City officials, local merchants and the community are coming together in Richmond Hill to kick-start a program set to beautify the streets.

“We can only do so much, [residents] can only do so much, but together we can do a lot more,” said Iggy Terranova of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DOS).

Councilmember Ruben Wills has teamed up with the DOS, the Wildcat Service Corporation and local business owners to create a commercial corridor cleanup program in response to the illegal dumping and chronic littering around the area.

“Our merchants are stepping up and our community is coming together for advocacy,” said Wills at a press conference on Friday, November 30.

Through the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Wills’ office was able to secure the funds necessary to create such a program, which allowed the DOS to increase its pickups to three days a week, and the Wildcat Service Corporation to pick up along the commercial corridor on another two.

The Wildcat Corporation is a nonprofit organization that provides resources for New Yorkers to become economically independent, according to their website. They have joined the cleanup effort, organizing representatives to assist in litter clearing.

“Problem areas,” such as those along Liberty Avenue and Hutch Boulevard, have been made priorities.

“It’s a citywide problem,” said Terranova. “Litter is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere unless people take responsibility for it.”

The DOS recommends simple fixes to the litter problem: keep your own area clean, regularly sweep the sidewalk, have your own sanitation receptacle and turn in an illegal dumper.

If the litter is not eliminated around a storefront, owners risk a $100 fine for the mess. This is also applicable to those caught improperly disposing of their trash.

The program also includes the DOS’s “Adopt-a-Basket Program,” in which any person, group, store operator or building manager actually claims a sanitation receptacle and is responsible for monitoring its usage. When the basket is three-quarters full, the adopter will be expected to remove the trash in a bag and leave it next to the basket for the DOS to service. A new liner will be placed in the basket as needed.

Councilmember Letitia James, Sanitation Committee chair, believes that the relationships being made between city and local organizations with local merchants should be valued going forward.

“At a time when everyone is focusing on Sandy recovery and there’s a deficit in the city budget, we need to look towards public-private partnerships,” she said.

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