Fresh Meadows restaurant owner Ed Moore said the excessive litter and overflowing garbage cans along Union Turnpike were more than a mess — they were an embarrassment.
“It’s an eyesore, especially when St. John’s had their graduation, which was on Mother’s Day. There are 20,000 people coming to see their kids graduate from all over the country, and they’re going to come here and see this? That’s a reflection on us as New Yorkers,” said Moore, owner of the Sly Fox Inn.
Moore said the repulsive refuse problem along the area’s key commercial corridor was caused by too many fast food restaurants on the retail strip and not enough city sanitation pickup.
But residents and business owners can breathe easy after Councilmember James Gennaro allocated $30,000 to bring the Doe Fund to the garbage-strewn major street.
The Doe Fund employs homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals as part of a program fostering private employment and independent living, said Ray Damm, director of the fund’s community improvement project. Workers usually focus on litter removal from sidewalks and gutters.
“This is the great opportunity for people to build work experience while helping our neighborhood look its best,” Gennaro said.
The allocations also include an additional “green function,” the councilmember said, which allows workers to mulch and maintain sidewalk tree pits and collect used cooking oil from two local restaurants for recycling into biodiesel.
“We’re helping people who are looking for work. It’s such a great example of what New York City is about — focusing on local and helping people who need a little extra help. To me, it’s so symbolic of what has made this city great,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Doe Fund services will cover the commercial district between 188th Street and Utopia Parkway, Gennaro said. The area will be cleaned three times a week in addition to already established city sanitation services.
“There will never be litter on the streets of Union ever again,” Gennaro said.