The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

August 17, 2018
Contact: Terence Cullen

Constantinides Announces More Than $290,000 in Funding to Keep District 22 Clean After Subway Shutdown’s Lingering Impact

ASTORIA, N.Y. — Council Member Costa Constantinides today announced a robust effort to keep Astoria’s streets clean, beautiful, and graffiti free over the next year. Although this has been a priority since Constantinides took office in 2014, he stressed that more than $290,000  in Fiscal Year 2019 funding was crucial after the brutal effects of the MTA shutdowns.

“We waited eight long months as the 30th Avenue subway station underwent renovations, taking a severely negative toll on our residents, our shops, and our restaurants,” said Council Member Constantinides. “By keeping making our streets clean and welcome thoroughfares, we’re sending a message to the entire City that Astoria is still the wonderful place it always has been. This wouldn’t be possible without the continued partnership with CALDC, DSNY, ACE, and QEDC.”

The Council Member was joined Friday by Marie Torniali, Executive Director of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition; Jim Martin, Executive Director, of The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE); Ricardi Calixte, Deputy Director, and Robert MacKay, Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Tourism, of the Queens Economic Development Corporation; Borough Operations Superintendent Luigi Dirico, District Superintendent Ruben Vazquez, and Nicholas Circharo, Assistant Director for the Bureau of Community Affairs of the Department of Sanitation.

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This year’s budget, which went into effect last month and runs through next June, includes a $10,000 allocation to the New York City Department of Sanitation. The money will increase the frequency of garbage pickups along 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard, one of the busiest sections of District 22.

“We’re proud to partner with Councilman Constantinides and provide additional service in one of Astoria’s busiest commercial corridors,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “This additional will help make residents’ shopping experience more enjoyable, add vibrancy to this important business district, and, best of all, keep Astoria beautiful.”  

The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) received more than $225,000 this year to continue sweeping Astoria sidewalks. This New York City-based organizations provides recovering homeless men and women work experience as well as a support network to take back their lives. ACE members currently sweep sidewalks on Ditmars Boulevard, Shore Boulevard, 30th Avenues and Hoyt Avenue North. The organization also landscapes Hoyt Avenue North.

“With his allocation, New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides is helping ACE put New Yorkers back to work, while at the same helping to keep Queens and District 22 clean for residents, business owners and visitors alike,” said Jim Martin, Executive Director, of The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE). “We consider it an honor and a privilege to be invited back in to this community again this year, and we look forward to continuing our work in District 22!”

Removing graffiti can have profound impacts on a neighborhood’s quality of life. Council Member Constantinides continued that effort in Astoria this year with a $20,000 designation Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC). This will enable QEDC to quickly remove graffiti whenever and wherever it pops up in District 22.

“Graffiti gives a city block the appearance of decay, disrepair, and abandonment. This discourages shoppers from visiting an area and encourages lawlessness, making an area a target for other crimes,” said QEDC Deputy Director Ricardi Calixte. “Thus, we are extremely happy to work with City Council Member Costa Constantinides to get rid of this scourge in so many commercial corridors in Western Queens.”

The prolonged subway closure left businesses along 30th Avenue to languish. Which is why Council Member Constantinides earmarked more than $35,000 to the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition (CALDC) to spruce up the neighborhood. The CALDC allocations, including new tree beds and other beautification measures, were made to counteract the shutdown and should show that Astoria is open for business.

“Graffiti is a blight on our entire  community and sends a message that we don’t have pride in our neighborhood. This is obviously untrue of Astoria. Thanks to the efforts of Council Member   Constantinides, our business districts will continue to be free of graffiti. 30th Avenue that was so severely impacted by the subway closure will also be the recipient of several flowering planters adding a visually pleasing and welcoming touch to  this vibrant district,” said Marie Torniali, Executive Director of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition.

“I want to thank Councilmember Constantinides for being a champion for our quality of life in Astoria. These varied funding streams for clean-ups, increased garbage collection and general beautification are so crucial to keeping Astoria’s character as a family friendly community and keeping Astoria as a place people want to come to shop and eat out.  Dirty streets and brimming garbage baskets send absolutely the wrong message,” said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst. He serves as chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on four additional committees: Parks, Transportation, For-Hire Vehicles, and Land Use, as well as the sub-committee on Zoning and Franchises.