By Chris Engelhardt
Astoria District Leader and City Council candidate Costa Constantinides announced a comprehensive five-point plan last week to clean up Astoria’s streets and parks, a plan he believes will benefit businesses and the community.
Constantinides, joined by residents and small business owners, unveiled his “Don’t Mess with Astoria” plan July 15 at Steinway Street and 30th Avenue in Astoria. The plan, Constantinides said, focuses on five areas of interest to combat street litter, park trash and graffiti issues. Points include doubling trash pickups, doubling fines for illegal dumping, establishing street crews for litter removal, creating a plan to reduce graffiti and improving park maintenance and sanitation.
Constantinides, the Democratic district leader for the 36th state Assembly District and a lifelong resident of Astoria, said that over the last several months he has noticed a growing presence of litter and trash in Astoria, prevalent on both business thoroughfares and side streets.
“Over and over again, I hear from residents and small business owners that are frustrated at how dirty our streets have become,” he said. “My Don’t Mess with Astoria plan takes on these problems directly. A cleaner Astoria will improve both quality of life and help small businesses.”
Astoria residents and business owners, including Kevin Foley, owner of Goldstein and Foley Real Estate Firm, lauded what some called a common sense plan.
“Patrons of our small businesses deserve better than having to skirt trash on the sidewalks while shopping,” he said.
Astoria resident Patrick Dimotta called the matter a community issue that needs to be addressed.
“We need better quality trash collection and litter removal in this neighborhood,” he said. “When our streets are clean, our community leaders can focus on events that bring us together rather than issues that are a detriment to home and business owners.”
Constantinides, who is vying for the seat of term-limited Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), said he wants to gather volunteers across Astoria to help with trash cleanups. If elected, Constantinides said he would consider drafting legislation to ensure that one of his plan’s points, the doubling of trash pickups, becomes a reality.
“There should be pickups every day,” he said. “And we need to make sure there are more garbage cans in the community. Trash bins on 30th Avenue are always filled up.”
The ultimate goal, he said, is to ensure that Astoria maintains a fresh, pristine appearance that residents and visitors can appreciate but will also create a boon for businesses.
“The best-case scenario is to have streets where people aren’t jumping over trash,” he said, “and where parks are clean so kids don’t find beer bottles and drug paraphernalia. And once sidewalks are clean, it will encourage even more people to shop in the community.”
Constantinides is one of several hopefuls vying for Vallone’s seat. The other contenders include Independent Party member and Monsignor McClancy High School volleyball Coach Danielle De Stefano, former New York Young Republican Club President and Republican member Daniel Peterson, Green Party candidate and environmental activist Lynne Serpe, Astoria lawyer John Ciafone and Community Board 1 member Constantinos Prentzas.
Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.