Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined several Queens leaders Wednesday morning for a walking tour through Flushing to get input from the community on how to improve the neighborhood.
The Jan. 18 tour comes in the wake of public safety concerns in downtown Flushing. While crime was a main concern among the business owners Richards spoke with Wednesday, there were other areas they wished to see improvements in across the area, including traffic and sanitation issues.
In addressing concerns about trash from restaurants building up on the streets and sidewalks, a Department of Sanitation (DOS) representative in attendance mentioned a “Clean Curbs” pilot program currently running across 34 locations in New York City, which involves putting containers on the streets in commercial and residential neighborhoods. With the trash being collected at a centralized location, this allows for the curb lines to be cleaned up and eliminating the rat activity, according to the DOS representative. Richards said hopes to get the program to go into effect in this area as well soon.
“We want to make sure that residents of this neighborhood feel safe, that the businesses feel safe and that the police department has the support it needs to carry out its mission,” Richards said. “We also want to address some of the sanitation issues as well.”
Accompanying Richards on the tour were Councilwoman Sandra Ung, members of the NYPD’s 109th Precinct and representatives of the Department of Transportation, Community Affairs Department, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. Among the local businesses they visited were Legend Chicken, Taipei Fine Wine and Liquor and J-Mart. The owners of each establishment provided input to Richards while there.
Based on the conversations Richards conducted with these small business owners, he is already looking into addressing their concerns. Richards said he wants the Department of Transportation to perform a comprehensive study of the area in order to determine how to improve traffic. He also wants to improve quality of life in the area.
“This is an area that needs some ‘TLC,'” Richards said. “We want to some investments into the streetscape, some of the quality-of-life issues around sanitation, we see that homelessness is an issue here as well. We want to work with our city partners and break ground to do some real outreach efforts here to get people into safe housing and getting these people the help they need. Really this is about bringing a coalition of agencies together and the real work starts after this.”
Richards said he intends to ask the NYPD to try putting more resources into the streets of downtown Flushing. He believes more officers from the 109th Precinct patrolling the area in the evening can play a big part in lowering the crime rate within the neighborhood.
According to Richards, he intends to visit other communities within Queens that are experiencing issues like those seen in downtown Flushing. He made a point of mentioning that it’s important for these communities to know that they are paying for all these agencies to serve them.