A little-known citywide trash initiative could clean up Queens streets if more of the borough knew about it, a local lawmaker said.
The city’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Basket” program gives free garbage cans and bags to residents and store owners who agree to monitor the outdoor receptacles and change liners when the basket is three-quarters full.
The Department of Sanitation initiative, which began in the early 1980s, aims to reduce litter caused by overflowing trash cans.
But of the city’s 1,300 participants, fewer than 20 percent are in Queens, a sanitation spokesperson said.
“What’s the point of a program if no one knows it exists and barely anyone is participating?” said Councilmember and Borough President candidate Peter Vallone Jr. “I want to make sure Queens takes advantage of the program that exists and that we expand on that.”
If elected to head the borough, Vallone said he would fund and install placards on adopted baskets that show the name of the participating business.
The Department of Sanitation currently gives participants a certificate, but the councilmember said the award is usually hung indoors, out of sight.
The more visible plaques would give due credit to adoptees and encourage participation “in what could be a very successful program,” Vallone said.
“Sometimes, the proverbial carrot helps,” he said.
Flushing business owner James Chen said waste from full cans on Prince Street often spills out onto the streets. The refuse, he said, finds its way under a tree outside his printing company daily.
“We have to clean that every single day,” Chen said. “It’s horrible. We can’t do anything about it because there are not enough garbage cans around. People just dump whatever they want to.”
New York City law requires property owners to keep their sidewalks clean. Fines for failure to sweep sidewalks doubled to $100 in 2003.
The “Adopt-A-Basket” initiative has been pushed in the past by State Senator Marty Golden in Brooklyn and Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito in Manhattan.
Those interested can call the city’s Citizen Service Center at 3-1-1.
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