By Bill Parry
Increased efforts are being made to clean up Astoria.
City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) announced last week that he has allocated more than $200,000 from his discretionary budget and the City Council’s NYC Clean Up initiative for street cleaning services.
“Continuing to keep our city clean was an important part of this year’s budget,” Constantinides said. “I am proud to have made it a priority again by investing over $200,000 in order to keep our neighborhood litter-free. Our expanded services will help improve quality of life for our residents, visitors and small business owners.”
In addition to cleaning, graffiti remediation and sidewalk sweeping, the budget enables the Department of Sanitation to provide a second Saturday pick-up on Steinway Street from 30th Avenue to Astoria Boulevard and on 31st Street between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard. The additional pick-up will help keep the corners free of trash and help prevent fly-away litter around the sidewalks.
“The department has found that partnerships are an essential tool in accomplishing goals,” Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. “Elected officials, city residents and Sanitation can work together to make our neighborhoods a source of pride to the people who live and work here.”
Constantinides will provide $37,500 to the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, part of which will go to its existing graffiti cleanup campaign, An additional $21,000 will be earmarked for the Queens Economic Development Corporation for on-demand graffiti removal throughout the district.
The cleaning and graffiti removal funded by Constantinides make a noticeable difference in the landscape of Astoria’s business district and Astoria as a whole, according to Marie Tornialli, the executive director of the Central Astoria group.
“Trash and graffiti are a blight on a neighborhood, suggesting neglect and indifference,” she said. “These programs send a clear message that we take pride in our neighborhood by preserving a pleasing environment in which we live, work and do business.”
In addition to their graffiti removal in Astoria, the QEDC is hard at work in districts represented by City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and City Councilman Eric Ullrich (D-Ozone Park). Koslowitz helped clean a Queens Boulevard storefront in Forest Hills earlier this month.
Since 2014, QEDC and Magic Touch Cleaning have removed graffiti from over 300 blighted commercial and residential properties in Astoria, Howard Beach, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Woodhaven.
“QEDC is happy to continue working in battling unsightly graffiti and helping make the neighborhoods more appealing,” QEDC Deputy Director Ricardi Calixte said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr