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July 15, 2013
Doe Fund Will Start Cleaning Streets in Hunters Point, Councilman Says

by Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer says he's secured funding in this year's budget to bring street cleaning teams to Hunters Point, where the issue of the litter-strewn streets has spurred a war of petitions between residents.

Van Bramer said he's allocated $65,000 to bring the Doe Fund's street-cleaning program to Hunters Point several times a week, starting as early as this summer.

"We have had a situation where folks have been unhappy with the cleanliness of the streets in Hunters Point, and I wanted to do something that could get the streets cleaner as quickly as possible," he said.

The idea of street cleaning has been a source of contention in Long Island City this year.

A petition started by some residents to bring Department of Sanitation street sweeper trucks — and, thereby, alternate side parking — to the neighborhood was met with fierce resistance by other residents, who said it would make finding a parking spot even more of a nightmare.

That faction then started their own rival petition against the street cleaning proposal, and argued that property owners should be responsible for cleaning up the streets in front of their homes instead.

The issue was a constant source of controversy at Community Board 2 meetings this winter and spring, though the board has yet to make a formal decision on the idea.

"Right now, it's still going through a review process," said CB2 chairman Joe Conley.

He said the Doe Fund program "will certainly a benefit," to the neighborhood, but does not necessarily take the possibility of Department of Sanitation street sweepers in Hunters Point off the table.

"The Doe Fund will provide welcomed clean-up, but it's limited to an area," said Conley. The street sweeper proposal, if implemented, would bring the cleaning trucks twice a week to a swath of Hunters Point west of Jackson Avenue, between 45th and Borden avenues.

Van Bramer said the details of where exactly the Doe Fund would send its street cleaners is "still being hammered out," but will include busy Vernon Boulevard and its side streets.

The program  — which provides jobs for homeless and formerly incarcerated people — will send teams of workers to the neighborhood who will sweep up trash, empty garbage cans, remove graffiti, take fliers off lampposts, and clear gutters.

"It's a pretty intensive effort, with a team going out there several times a week for several hours a day," Van Bramer said.

The councilman also started the program last year in Woodside along Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside Avenue and 61st Street. Extra funding in this year's budget will also go toward expanding the program to more streets there, where Van Bramer says it's been a success.

"It's made a difference in Woodside," he said.


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