Southeast Queens elected officials and community organizations rallied in Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica on Saturday, June 11, calling for cleaner streets, parks and open spaces while highlighting local beautification efforts.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams encouraged community members to come together and get involved in volunteer projects such as the cleanup event in Baisley Pond Park.
“For decades, sanitation issues like illegal dumping and overflowing litter have negatively affected the quality of life for residents in southeast Queens,” Adams said. “In recent years, pandemic-related budget cuts worsened conditions, impacting the health, safety and well-being of our communities. In response, community leaders and organizations have stepped up to organize cleanups and involve their neighbors in beautification projects. When combined with deeper investments in sanitation services and funding for additional cleaning initiatives, our communities will finally have the clean streets, parks and shared spaces that we deserve.”
Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers said that one of the most common constituent complaints across her district is sanitation.
“From Brookville Road to the Rockaway Boardwalk, illegal dumping continues to pervade our communities,” Brooks-Powers said.
State Senator Leroy Comrie agreed it is a quality-of-life issue that demands priority investments.
“The pandemic highlighted the need for increased access to our parks and outdoor venues for families while also putting a spotlight on the need for more city services for sanitation pickups, street cleaning and park maintenance,” Comrie said. “With Speaker Adams at the helm and strong leaders like Majority Whip Brooks-Powers, our community’s open spaces will be a shining example for the entire city.”
Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch said environmental justice begins at the street level.
“The cleanliness of our streets is essential to New York’s recovery,” Tisch said. “I want to thank Speaker Adams for her advocacy in southeast Queens, and all of the five boroughs, and look forward to continuing to work with her to give New Yorkers the clean streets they expect and deserve.”
As in the case with many communities across the borough, DSNY services are augmented by workers from the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE), the Long Island City-based organization that provides job training, work experience and a lifetime support network to help program participants achieve their goals and establish economic independence.
“The NYC Cleanup Initiative is improving the quality of life for everyone right here in District 28 and for millions around the city, but it’s more than just clean streets,” ACE Executive Director James Martin said. “This initiative has opened up the door to full-time employment opportunities for New Yorkers who are eager to overcome hardships like homelessness, incarceration and addiction and earn a living wage for themselves and their families.”
Adams partnered with NYC H2O and SEQ Cleanup on the cleanup event at Baisley Pond Park.
“From the spectacular 30-acre freshwater pond filled with fish and redhead ducks to the park’s shady oasis of 100-year-old oak trees, this area is an incredible community resource,” NYC H2O Executive Director Matt Malina said. “We love organizing cleanups here because these events bring out the best, in the best New Yorkers. Cleaning the park helps improve habitat for wildlife, greenspace for community members, and creates more inviting space for children to learn about the environment and become involved in stewardship.”
SEQ Cleanup founder Karen “DJ Nett” Lawson saluted Adams, Brooks-Powers and Councilwoman Nantasha Williams for putting extra attention into beautification and programming in the parks and green spaces of southeast Queens.
“At SEQ Cleanup, we aim to continue to inspire our fellow community members to ‘do their part’ to be part of the solution rather than just pointing out the problem,” Lawson said. “These community groups include NYC H2O, Abuela Neighborhood Maintenance and Family of Five Foundation. Together as a unit, we can make waves.”