Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
Councilman Robert Holden, alongside local business owners and employees of Wildcat Service Corporation, announces his cleanup initiative for the district at an Aug. 20 press conference in Maspeth.

Some of the most trafficked areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village now have expanded cleanup services through an initiative launched by Councilman Robert Holden.

At an Aug. 20 press conference in front of Maspeth Press on Grand Avenue, Holden announced his office’s partnership with Wildcat Service Corporation to clean sidewalks, empty trash bins, remove graffiti and even snow in his district.

The councilman was able to allocate $145,000 from his budget for a one-year contract with Wildcat, he said, which has a mission of employing and providing stability for ex-offenders and the previously incarcerated with little work experience through its Neighborhood Improvement Program.

Holden was joined by a dozen Wildcat employees and supervisors as well as local business owners whose storefronts are likely to benefit from the cleaner streets.

“The initiative is certainly going to improve the environment and provide jobs obviously for Wildcat employees, but we’re expanding the cleanup initiative for a larger space,” Holden said. “We hope to have this going every year from now on. Anything we can do to to improve Wildcat and build up your workforce we will certainly do, because I think this is a win-win.”

Under the new program which got underway last week, Wildcat cleaning crews will work on the following commercial strips:

  • Grand Avenue from 61st to 74th streets, Maspeth
  • Flushing Avenue from Grand to Metropolitan avenues, Maspeth
  • Metropolitan Avenue from 69th to 80th streets, Middle Village
  • Fresh Pond Road from 60th to Myrtle avenues, Ridgewood
  • Myrtle Avenue from Fresh Pond Road to Woodhaven Boulevard, Glendale
  • 69th Street from Queens Boulevard to Calamus Avenue, Middle Village

The cleanups will include sidewalk sweeping, cleaning around litter baskets and emptying them, removing illegal signs, removing graffiti and shoveling snow for senior citizens, Holden explained. The snow removal service was a major factor in Holden’s decision to choose Wildcat, he said, because there are many seniors in the community who struggle to find help with shoveling every winter.

Sergey Shafir, senior supervisor for Wildcat’s Neighborhood Improvement Division, said that his crew was “happy and excited” to partner with Holden and improve his district.

“The Neighborhood Improvement Division is looking forward to taking care of various requests from Council member Holden and his team to beautify their communities,” Shafir said. “Wildcat Organization team will do everything in their power to provide the best possible service for constituents in Council member Holden’s district.”

Also in attendance was David Daraio, president of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, who explained how beneficial it will be to have cleaner streets in front of the area’s many small businesses.

“The Chamber constantly lets our businesses know, reminding them to keep the stores clean, but we get a lot of foot traffic,” Daraio said. “I think it’s going to be a great benefit to the neighborhood to keep it looking great and more people coming up a down the street enjoying the great stores that we do have in this community.”

Maria Kolombos, owner of Good Eats on Grand Avenue, said that one of the added challenges of keeping commercial storefronts clean is being located near so many bus stops where people litter before or after riding the bus.

“Unfortunately people have a problem: they just leave their garbage,” Kolombos said to Holden. “We’re constantly sending the guys outside to sweep. It’s a great community. It’s good people, and what you’re doing is fantastic. Let’s just hope people chip in and do their part.”

The councilman agreed, and said that part of his initiative will include starting a campaign to motivate more members of the community to lend a helping hand by cleaning up after themselves.

“We need the residents to all join us in this initiative,” Holden said. “We’re going to start a ‘clean up your community’ initiative and we’ll have posters around — you’ll be seeing those shortly — asking people not to litter and to actually pick up something. If you see it, help out Wildcat and pick up that trash even if you didn’t do it.”

Residents who would like to report an area that needs to be cleaned or request snow removal can contact Holden’s office at 718-366-3900 to coordinate with Wildcat.

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