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Constantinides Boosts Funding to Keep Streets Clean and to Beautify Shopping Districts

(Photo: Tara Law)

Aug. 17, 2018 By Tara Law

Councilmember Costa Constantinides has increased funding to keep Astoria’s streets clean and make the commercial districts greener.

Constantinides said today that he has allocated $290,000 this year— up from $250,000 last year— to keep the neighborhood graffiti and litter free, and to add new greenery.

Several of the street improvement measures this year are intended to beautify the 30th Avenue area, an area where businesses suffered due to the 8-month closure of the nearby N/W subway station. 

New planters and tree beds will be installed along the avenue. The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition received $35,000 of the $290,000 to install the tree beds.

Constantinides noted that the 30th Avenue station closure had a “huge impact” on many local shops, and that he hoped making the area more attractive would entice more shoppers to frequent that stretch.

“People, when they come back to 30th Avenue, will see an even more beautiful [commercial strip] than they found before,” said Constantinides.

Constantinides said that this effort and the other cleanup and beautification efforts are also intended to improve the quality of life for residents. 

Constantinides has allocated $10,000 of the $290,000 to the Department of Sanitation to add trash pickups along 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard on Saturdays. An additional $20,000 has gone to the Queens Economic Development Corporation, which partners with service provider Magic Touch to remove graffiti. 

The biggest allocation was provided to the Association for Community Employment, a program which provides street cleaning and landscaping services along Astoria’s busiest streets. This fiscal year, which goes from July 1 through June 30, 2019, Constantinides allocated ACE $225,000— up from $210,000 last year.

The organization, which provides a team of five workers, has been cleaning Astoria’s streets for the last three years. With the additional allocation, the organization will clean Broadway between 31st Street and Steinway Street an additional three days a week, said ACE Quality Control Officer Leo Gil.

ACE workers currently sweep the sidewalks and gutters and replace trash bags on Ditmars Boulevard between 29th Street and Steinway Street; 31st Street from 23rd Avenue to Ditmars Boulevard; 30th Avenue from Athens Square Park to Newtown Avenue; Steinway Street from Astoria Boulevard to 28th Avenue; Shore Boulevard from Ditmars Boulevard to Astoria Boulevard South; 21st Street from 34th Avenue to 29th Avenue; and Hoyt Avenue North from 29th Street to 21st Street.

Along East Hoyt Avenue North from 29th Street to 21st Street, the workers also cut down weeds on the curbs, sidewalks and medians.

ACE employees, including Executive Director Jim Martin at left and Elbert Copeland, center (Photo: Tara Law)

Elbert Copeland, the supervisor for the Astoria cleaning team, said that the streets were “really dirty” when the program began three years ago, but that ACE has helped to create positive change in the community.

Store owners are more likely to maintain the area in front of their stores when they see that the street is being cared for.

“When they see the guys out here, it makes them take an effort to clean in front of their businesses,” Copeland said.

Copeland and two of the men he supervises, Clinton Evans and John Baptiste, agreed that the program has also had a positive impact on their lives.

ACE’s street cleaning employees are formerly homeless people, who are able to use the job to return to the working world and to gain professional experience.

“It’s life changing,” Baptiste said.

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13 Comments

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Christina

Clean up Steinway Street from 28th Avenue to Astoria Blvd. It’s a pig sty! Close down Melody Lounge, too many shady characters frequent the place. Have Chubby Burger and 3 Bros. Pizza close at 2am instead of 5am. Im sick of cleaning the steps to my bldg, where landlord doesn’t live, because of vomit, spilled drinks, pizza plates, chicken bones. It’s disgusting AND get the DOS to put the trash receptacles back on the corners on 28th Ave. There should be trash receptables every few feet on Steinway wherever there are stores and restaurants. Why must Astoria be trash infested? Get it cleaned up and fine any store owner AND Citibank for not sweeping their property! Get it done, there’s no reason why i should live in a disgusting neighborhood becsuse trash is everywhere.

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charles a castro

You can all dislike it all you want. It is the truth and your generation is weak. If it smells like a cesspool admit it and work on fixing it. Don’t stick your head in the sand and expect the smell to go away. Nonetheless, face it, Steinway is on life support, thirty , count them, thirty stores closed from Broadway to 30th Avenue.. Costa’s has lamebrain ideas that will not change anything.

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Anonymous

There are trash cans in Astoria Park, along 31st St., and in other parts of Astoria, just not in NW Astoria. Costa has said it’s due to DOT routes.

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becky

There are trash cans at Astoria park! BTW many trash cans overflow and are filled with household trash. Sometimes they make a place dirtier. The sanitation dept picks half of it up and the other half falls onto the sidewalk and streets.

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charles a castro

Hey Annon, Ohio transplant, Astoria Park is nowhere near 31 Street, what are you talking about?

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Rita

So instead of making business owners responsible for keeping their front sidewalks clean taxpayers are paying to do their job. As a homeowner in a residential area I have been wrongful ticketed for a dirty sidewalk area and I took a day off to appeal the ticket. However, it was a waste of time. I was ordered to pay it.

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Tim

Meanwhile the corner of Broadway and Steinway street is a complete cesspool. Vendors selling rotten fruit at all hours, homeless camped out all day outside the Chase bank, and other sketchy characters occupy the sidewalks. Go across the street to the library and another crew of homeless occupy the benches harassing people. The sidewalk outside Basurero resembles and smells like a vomitorium. Yet Costa wants to plant trees.

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