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Volunteers honored for community cleanups at Juniper Park Civic Association

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Two groups of local students and their mentors were honored at last week’s Juniper Park Civic Association (JCPA) meeting for their service and commitment to keeping the Maspeth and Middle Village communities clean and eco-friendly.

JPCA President Robert Holden and Department of Sanitation’s Community Affairs liaison Bruno Iciano presented awards to the Maspeth High School Green Club and Assistant Principal Mario Matos Jr. on Dec. 3 for their continued efforts to improve the environment by participating in local cleanups throughout the community.

“We are a club that is relatively new in the community, but we’re really seeking to make a difference,” said teacher and club moderator Aaron Bell.

Since their creation nearly five years ago, the student organization has been involved with local park space beautification, historical restoration, graffiti removal events, gardening, habitat maintenance and local water and air quality monitoring. They have also organized tree giveaways and nature walks and spearheaded a recycling program and cafeteria organics collection at the school.

“Maspeth High School has been involved with every cleanup we’ve had over the years since they’ve been in existence,” Holden said. “They’re a model school. The students are great; they volunteer throughout the neighborhood.”

Adult and youth volunteers from the Juniper Juniors youth civic group and their leader, Len Santoro (right), were honored by DSNY Community Liason Bruno Iciano (center) and the JPCA.
Adult and youth volunteers from the Juniper Juniors youth civic group and their leader, Len Santoro (right), were honored by DSNY Community Liason Bruno Iciano (center) and the JPCA.

Awards were also given to the Juniper Juniors, JPCA’s youth civic group, and their leader Len Santoro for their dedication to maintaining and beautifying the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Middle Village. The group organized several local cleanups in recent years, including graffiti removals and tree planting events throughout the community.

In addition to the award presented to the Juniper Juniors volunteers, JPCA and DSNY also honored Santoro with a Certificate of Appreciation for his leadership and service throughout the years.

“Len has coordinated a lot of the cleanups and is always involved in the community,” Iciano said. “He’s inspiring a lot of people to do the right thing.”

Santoro thanked the 104th Precinct and their graffiti officers for their partnership and support of the Juniper Juniors and their cleanup efforts.

“It’s all teamwork, folks,” Iciano added. “When we come together as a team we get more done and achieve great things in the community.”

Community Affairs Officer Charles Sadler continued to deliver more good news to the civic group in the form of dramatic reductions in six out of seven major crime categories. Sadler, who stood in for Captain Mark Wachter, announced a 7 percent drop in major crimes over the past 28-day period, with an 11 percent reduction overall in the past year.

“We’re having a great year for crime,” Sadler explained. “It’s probably the best I’ve seen since I’ve been in this precinct.”

104th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Charles Sadler with JPCA President Robert Holden
104th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Charles Sadler with JPCA President Robert Holden

In addition to the drop in crime, Sadler also reported a sharp decrease in accidents with fatalities thanks, in part, to the precinct’s recent Vision Zero Initiative. The precinct is down roughly 56 accidents with fatalities when compared to last year. Sadler announced that a whopping 330 vehicles were towed this year, with an additional 503 moving violations and 193 parking violations issued to drivers. Nearly 136 summonses were also given to off-route truck drivers, a chronic problem plaguing the Grand Avenue area of Maspeth.

“We are just ordinary people trying to do extraordinary things,” Sadler explained. “But it’s a whole collaborative effort. We can’t do it alone.”

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