Social media outreach spurs quick cleanup of Howard Beach’s Coleman Square

Photos via Facebook/Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association

The social network is a big plus for the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association.

Much like other community groups across Queens, civic association members interact with one another frequently on its Facebook page, sharing news about happenings in their community, both positive and negative.

So when an association member spotted litter spread across Howard Beach’s Coleman Square last week, according to civic president Joann Ariola, the member called 311 — and shared photos of the debris with the association through Facebook. Before long, those pictures were shared with City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who then reported the condition to the Sanitation Department.

Within three days, according to Ulrich’s office, Sanitation Department crews were on the scene in Coleman Square, getting rid of the trash. The Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association then shared pictures of an almost spotless square via Facebook.

Social media has proven to be a valuable tool for the civic group in recent weeks, Ariola said. She noted that another civic member posted pictures on Dec. 30, 2015 of papers illegally dumped at the corner of 149th and South Conduit avenues. The images were also shared with Ulrich’s office and the Sanitation Department, and the debris was gone the very next day.

“Even when we call 311, we attach a picture,” Ariola said. “When we call a Council member, we follow up with an email and photograph. We’re getting them through instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and it’s a great way to find out about a problem and address it right away.”

Throughout 2016, it figures that the civic association’s members — and smartphone camera lenses — will be fixed on keeping up appearances at Coleman Square, on 103rd Street between 159th Avenue and 159th Road. Located within walking distance of the Howard Beach-JFK Airport A train station, Ariola noted, the square serves as a gateway to Howard Beach– and, as such, must be maintained to give a good impression to commuters and travelers stopping in the area.

“We don’t want them stepping over debris,” Ariola said. “We want them to be able to come into Coleman Square, use our shops and raise our economy. We want it to be a nice experience. The quality of life issues such as garbage and graffiti are two issues that will make or break us, especially in an area that relies so heavily on foot traffic.”

“People don’t want to go and shop where they have to step over bags of garbage or where there’s graffiti visible,” she added.

Ulrich himself is also committed to keeping Coleman Square looking beautiful. According to his office, Ulrich will ask the city to bring in additional litter baskets with small holes to prevent trash from escaping bins and blowing around the neighborhood. He will also work with the Sanitation Department to monitor the area and immediately address any littering problems that may arise.

“Clean streets mean a better environment and a better quality of life for all residents,” Ulrich said in a statement sent to The Courier. “I thank the Department of Sanitation and the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic for their continued collaboration and cooperation with my office to ensure that we keep our community clean.”

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