ASTORIA – One day after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced funding for five New York City parks, including $30 million to Astoria Park, City Council Member Costa Constantinides, in a press conference on August 19 announced his Fiscal Year ‘17 budget allocation of over $200,000 to cleaning services in Astoria. Several groups will provide cleaning, weeding, and graffiti-removal services. The funding comes from Constantinides’ discretionary budget and the Council’s NYC Clean Up initiative.
Keeping the neighborhood clean has been a priority for Constantinides since 2014, noting that litter and graffiti impacts sidewalk accessibility, quality of life, and shopping habits. He has previously invested in sidewalk cleaning and graffiti removal services. These investments were extended and expanded in FY ‘17.
As part of a widened effort to keep Astoria clean, Constantinides will allocate $10,000 as part of the NYC Clean Up initiative to the Department of Sanitation for additional pick-ups of corner litter baskets. They will provide a second Saturday pick-up on Steinway Street from 30th Avenue to Astoria Boulevard and on 31st Street between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard. The additional pick-up will help keep the corners free of trash and help prevent fly-away litter around the sidewalks.
Continuing his investment in sidewalk cleaning services, Constantinides will designate almost $180,000 from both his member discretionary budget and the NYC Clean Up initiative to The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) to sweep sidewalks and maintain corner litter baskets. The funding goes toward expanding sidewalk cleaning services on 23rd Avenue and 31st Street to seven days per week. The Ditmars Boulevard route was expanded to reach between 29th Street and Steinway Street.
The allocation will also extend sidewalk cleaning services on 30th Avenue, Newtown Road, Steinway Street, and Shore Boulevard. ACE will continue to sweep the sidewalks and curb extensions on 21st Street and landscape sidewalks and weed patches along Hoyt Avenue North.
Constantinides will designate funding for graffiti removal to improve neighborhood cleanliness. Over $21,000 will be allocated to Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) for on-demand graffiti removal services throughout the district and $37,500 to Central Astoria Local Development Coalition (CALDC), part of which will be used for the existing graffiti cleanup campaign run by the group.
Constantinides said, “Continuing to keep our city clean was an important part of this year’s budget. I am proud to have made it a priority again by investing over $200,000 in order to keep our neighborhood litter-free. Our expanded services will help improve quality of life for residents, visitors, and small business owners. I thank all our partners for their continued work.” He went on to express his excitement over the $30 million to improve Astoria Park, noting that plans were already in the works for the pool area, track, and soccer field.
Marie Torniali, Executive Director of CALDC, said, “The cleaning and graffiti removal programs funded by Council Member Constantinides make a noticeable difference in the landscape of our business districts and Astoria as a whole. Trash and graffiti are a blight on a neighborhood suggesting neglect and indifference; these programs send a clear message that we take pride in our neighborhood by preserving a pleasing environment in which to live, work and do business
Iggy Terranova, Department of Sanitation Community Affairs Officer, spoke on behalf of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia to express the DSNY’s appreciation of Constantinides efforts working with the DSNY to improve the cleanliness of Astoria, noting how the DSNY has found partnerships are an essential tool in accomplishing their goals, working together with elected officials, and city residents to make Astoria clean again and a source of pride for the public.
“For nearly 25 years, ACE has been helping New Yorkers with employment barriers get back into the workforce and on a path to self-sufficiency. With this allocation, Councilman Constantinides is helping ACE put New Yorkers back to work while at the same time providing essential street cleaning services to the beautiful Borough of Queens. We are extremely proud to join in the effort to keep this district clean for residents and businesses to enjoy. We consider it an honor and a privilege to be invited back to this community!,” said James Martin, Executive Director of ACE.
“QEDC is happy to continue working with City Council Member Costa Constantinides in battling unsightly graffiti in the district and helping make the neighborhood more appealing for residents, shoppers, and businesses,” said Ricardi Calixte, Deputy Director of QEDC.
The Council’s NYC Clean Up initiative allocates funds to each council district for cleaner buildings, sidewalks, and streets. The initiative funding will be voted by the Council in September. Constantinides’ discretionary expense budget was included in the FY ‘17 budget passed by the Council in June.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation.