Sweeping away three problems at once

Brooklyn Currents | 1/03/2015 | 0 comments

By DAVID J. GLENN

Cleaner streets. More jobs. Better business climate.

When State Senator Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and City Councilman David Greenfield announced on Monday in front of Goldberg's Supermarket that they would bring all this to Borough Park, it may very well have sounded like simple campaign promises.

But the three were re-elected in November, and are not currently running for anything. The announcement was for something already taking place – Project Sweep.

Felder had secured a $100,000 state grant for the project, designed to take a three-pronged approach to community improvement: reducing the amount of litter on the street, giving jobs to people having difficulty finding them, and helping merchants keep the sidewalks in front of their stores clean and inviting.

"A clean and litter-free commercial area instills community pride and encourages more people to visit and shop, which is a win for the neighborhood," Felder said. "[It also] provides an employment opportunity for adults who want to give back to the community."

Project Sweep is "wonderful for the community," a manager at  an 18th Avenue store said, adding that it will help local businesses avoid at least some of the tickets often given out by the city's Department of Sanitation. Sanitation agents "will pounce on you as soon as there's a piece of paper on the sidewalk in front of the store," she said -- in fact, she had to hire a full-time employee just to make sure the front sidewalk would be completely litter-free all day.

The Midwood Development Corporation manages Project Sweep for parts of Brooklyn. In Borough Park, five people are deployed each day Monday through Friday to cover 13th , 16th, and 18th avenues from McDonald Avenue to 65th Street. They're paid the minimum wage of $8.75 an hour.

"They make us feel appreciated," said Vincent, 38, from Brownsville, one of the recently hired workers. "I really feel good about helping to keep the neighborhood clean."

(This story was first printed in the Hamodia newspaper)



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