Flushing community sanitation program kicks off

By Madina Toure

Business owners at the intersection of Prince Street and 37th Avenue in downtown Flushing and the city Department of Sanitation are working toward a solution to address the trash problem at the intersection.

Business owners said they were being fined by city inspectors for trash accumulating at the intersection and that they were unable to get a response from the Sanitation Department. Business leaders launched the “Keep Flushing Beautiful” community sanitation program at a news conference May 13.

Crown Container Company, a member of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, donated three industrial-strength garbage bins for the intersection—each costing more than $600—and committed to maintaining and emptying the bins daily as a free service.

But after Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) met with the Sanitation Department, the department forced the Flushing Chamber to remove the bins.

“We proposed numerous avenues of cooperation that were met with repeated reiterations of city laws,” Simon Gerson, the chamber’s president, said. “Fortunately, we came away with a personal commitment from Ignazio Terranova, representing the commissioner of Sanitation, to discuss a way to place city trash receptacles on the Prince Street Triangle this week, and we are quite optimistic that a solution can be agreed on.”

Belinda Mager, a Sanitation spokeswoman, said the department’s local district has been monitoring the location daily and that it is cleaned regularly.

The Enforcement Division has issued violation notices to businesses lacking private carter service as well as for littering and throw out conditions at the triangle.

“The department has long worked with business owners and residents to help rectify the problem, which we believe stems from those business owners who do not have private carters and some nearby landlords who are not providing residents with proper garbage and recycling facilities,” Mager said. “Both are required by law.”

Mager said the department will be meeting with Koo and the chamber again next week to discuss further solutions.

She said the department has proposed that local businesses join the department’s Adopt-A-Basket program, which would entail placing litter baskets on nearby corners that may not already have a basket. The local business would be responsible for emptying the basket when it is full.

John Choe, the chamber’s executive director, said the Sanitation Department was not responsive initially.

“As far as I know, when the business owners complained about it more than two years ago, nobody responded to their complaints and when I tried to follow up and called the Department of Sanitation directly, very little information was forthcoming,” he said.

Kim has also played a role in helping to make Flushing cleaner, he added, noting that about two years ago, Kim got volunteers to power wash some sidewalks.

Another local business and member of the Flushing chamber, GW Printing, designed and printed labels asking community members to “Keep Flushing Beautiful” in English and in Chinese.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.