Councilman Costa Constantinides announced that over $290,000 from the 2019 Fiscal Year funding would be allocated to keep Astoria streets clean following the months-long subway shutdowns.
On Friday, Aug. 17, the councilman held a press conference to stress the importance of cleaning up and beautifying the streets of his district from the litter and graffiti that had been accumulating since the start of the 30th Avenue subway station rehabilitation. Both the 30th and 36th Avenue stations reopened in June after nearly nine months of being shut down.
“We waited eight long months as the 30th Avenue subway station underwent renovations, taking a severely negative toll on our residents, our shops, and our restaurants,” Constantinides said. “By keeping making our streets clean and welcome thoroughfares, we’re sending a message to the entire city that Astoria is still the wonderful place it always has been.”
But a spokesperson for the MTA said that the time and money they have invested to rehabilitate the train lines would invigorate rather than detract from the neighborhood.
“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to perform significant structural repairs and renovations, improve accessibility, and renew and beautify how stations look, up and down the entire Astoria line,” said MTA spokesman Shams Tarek. “We’re incredibly proud of this work and our partnerships with local businesses to help promote them while stations are closed. The time and money we’re investing in Astoria now will keep local business strong and serve residents for generations to come.”
This year’s fiscal year budget went into effect in July and runs through June 2019. According to Constantinides, who has prioritized these efforts since he was elected into office in 2014, money from the budget would go toward sanitation, clean up and beautification efforts.
Approximately $10,000 will be allocated to the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to increase the frequency of garbage pickups along 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard, which the Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said is one of the busiest sections of Constantinides’ District 22.
The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) received more than $225,000 to continue sweeping sidewalks on Ditmars Boulevard, Shore Boulevard, 30th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North, which the organization also landscapes. Jim Martin is the executive director of ACE, which is a New York-based organization that helps homeless men and women with work experiences and a support network.
“With his allocation, Constantinides is helping ACE put New Yorkers back to work, while at the same helping to keep Queens and District 22 clean for residents, business owners and visitors alike,” Martin said.
In addition, the councilman allocated $20,000 to the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) to remove graffiti from the district and $35,000 to the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition (CALDC) to “spruce up the neighborhood” which includes planting new tree beds and other beautification measures.
“Graffiti is a blight on our entire community and sends a message that we don’t have pride in our neighborhood. This is obviously untrue of Astoria. Thanks to the efforts of Council member Constantinides, our business districts will continue to be free of graffiti. 30th Avenue that was so severely impacted by the subway closure will also be the recipient of several flowering planters adding a visually pleasing and welcoming touch to this vibrant district,” said CALDC Executive Director Marie Torniali.
Updated on Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 2:23 p.m. to reflect comments from the MTA.