CM Joann Ariola leads effort to keep streets in southeast Queens clean

joann ariola
Councilwoman Joann Ariola.
Photo courtesy of the office of Councilwoman Joann Ariola

Council Member Joann Ariola aims to keep the streets clean in her southeast Queens district with the help of city agencies and an employment program looking to improve the area. 

Every week participants of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)— a second-chance program giving formerly incarcerated people support in finding jobs — work to keep the Queens neighborhoods in Ariola’s district (D-23) clear of trash and dangerous conditions. 

Ariola allocated $79,000 in discretionary funding to the CEO organization this year and plans to utilize the program moving forward. The council member says this collaboration between CEO and her office benefits everyone involved—from the community to the previously incarcerated, who are trying to integrate themselves back into society.

“Not only does it help our residents, but it also helps the workers at CEO as well,” Ariola said. “They give people a second chance and help integrate their employees back into society by giving them jobs and putting them on the road to success.”

The group, aided by Ariola’s office, has cleaned up several locations where trash has accumulated, including Colman Square and Shore Parkway in Howard Beach; the Addabbo Bridge on Cross Bay Boulevard; Rockaway Beach Boulevard; and the Flight 587 Memorial Park in Rockaway.

Ariola said she is focused on quality-of-life issues, and cleaning up dirty streets is a step in the right direction. 

“By deploying these dedicated individuals to regular litter hot spots throughout the week, we can make sure that our neighborhoods remain clean and tidy – and clean streets are a major component of maintaining the quality of life that District 32 residents deserve,” Ariola said, who often posts photos of the cleanups on her social media pages.

Center for Employment Opportunities throws salt on an icy sidewalk in front of a busy bus stop in Woodhaven. Photo courtesy the office of Councilwoman Joann Ariola
Center for Employment Opportunities helps rid Queens streets of trash, snow and ice. Photo courtesy the office of Councilwoman Joann Ariola

When the city finally saw its first snow in nearly two years last month, members of CEO were out on Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue, clearing the bus stops and sidewalks from unsafe weather conditions.

Ariola’s office documented the clean-up while it was happening and while commuters waited for the Q11, Q53 and Q52 buses. 

Meanwhile, Ariola is also getting extra help from a number of city agencies to clean her district.

She has partnered with the Woodhaven Swarm, a multi-agency initiative to clean streets in the area.

According to Ariola’s office, volunteers and members from the New York City Department of Sanitation, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and NYCEDC help sweep up trash from areas in Woodhaven

In total, 650 blocks in the 32nd District were swept in 2023 through these programs, while 176 properties had their graffiti removed. Meanwhile, the clean-up crew picked-up more than 1,000 pounds of garbage.