Oct. 4, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
A patchwork of street cleaners and maintenance crews are working in and around Astoria Park as part of an effort to tidy up the wider neighborhood.
The workers are sweeping the sidewalks, emptying the trash and landscaping the park.
Councilman Costa Constantinides announced the new services on Friday, made possible through more than $200,000 in funding from the Councilman’s discretionary funds, the City Council’s NYC Cleanup Initiative and the Parks Equity Initiative.
The DOE Fund, already at work cleaning Steinway Street, 30th Avenue, Ditmars Boulevard and other Astoria corridors, opened a new route on Shore Boulevard in September, the Councilman said.
The “men in blue,” as DOE Fund crews are called, will tackle Shore Boulevard on Friday, Saturday and Sunday weekly into November, and then again in April, May and June of next year.
Through the DOE Fund, formerly homeless and incarcerated individuals receive paid transitional work and educational services, one phase of which is the street cleaning program.
Crews with the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless, which similarly provides job training and work experience, will also landscape sidewalks and weed patches along Hoyt Avenue North leading up to Astoria Park. They will visit twice a month through October and in April, May and June, Constantinides said.
Within the park itself, an additional Parks Department-employed maintenance staffer has been secured, although park-goers will have to wait until spring for his or her arrival.
The new maintenance staffer will be stationed at Astoria Park from April to June 2016, following an allocation of $18,000 through the City’s Parks Equity Initiative.
Martha Lopez-Gilpin, Chair of the Astoria Park Alliance, spoke about the communal effort of keeping the neighborhood clean.
“[These crews] are doing very crucial and vital work. But I call upon all our citizens to step up to support this work,” she said. “Every piece of garbage you throw on the ground doesn’t belong there.”
“We can do better, we have to do better, because we have to support this great work,” she continued.
Alongside the Astoria Park services, Constantinides announced graffiti removal programs from both the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition and the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
The DOE Fund will also expand their route to include 21st Street, including its new pedestrian safety curb extensions.
Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at [email protected]