BCC president starts pilot program to spruce up Midwood
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
What does litter have to do with the economy? Plenty, according to Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
“Clean streets are a catalyst for small business growth, ensuring that residents and visitors alike make walking these streets an enjoyable experience. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone work together to ensure the streets are clean and safe,” Scissura said.
Shoppers are more likely to patronize a commercial zone that has clean sidewalks and graffiti-free storefronts, Scissura said.
With that in mind, Scissura announced on Feb. 5 that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is working in partnership with the Midwood Development Corporation on a three-month pilot project to clean the streets of Midwood’s major shopping areas, including Avenue J.
The pilot program is sponsored by Investors Bank and TD Bank.
The goal is to turn Midwood into a prime destination for shoppers from across Brooklyn.
The manpower will be supplied by the Midwood Development Corporation, which employs developmentally delayed adults to clean the streets under its “Project Sweep” program.
The pilot program calls for cleaning areas near street corner litter baskets as well as weekly Monday clean-ups along major streets and the clearing of debris from under elevated subway tracks on Avenue M and East 15 Street and Avenue J and East 16 Street.
In addition, a hotline will be created to allow merchants to call if they see debris and want to have clean-up crews dispatched to the area.
The pilot program was planned in the wake of a report released by the Mayor's Office of Operations showing that Community Board 12 streets, which encompass the areas of Midwood, Borough Park and Kensington, were listed as only 82.8 percent acceptable in terms of street cleanliness. By comparison, many other Brooklyn neighborhoods scored in the high 90s.
"Midwood is a wonderful neighborhood that deserves to be just as clean as other areas of Brooklyn," said Scissura said. “We at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce believe that all the borough's neighborhoods are created equal,” he said.
"We are delighted to be partnering with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to make Midwood a cleaner place,” said Linda Goodman, executive director at the Midwood Development Corporation.
But Goodman hinted that the cleanup is only half the battle. “We encourage all community residents to join with us in this effort by not littering," she said.
Midwood is the latest neighborhood to become part of the chamber's growing portfolio known as the Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Program. NEP is currently active in nine areas - 13 Avenue in Dyker Heights, Fourth Avenue in Park Slope/Sunset Park, Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, South Williamsburg, North Crown Heights, Red Hook and Sheepshead Bay. Under the program, the chamber works with local merchants and business improvement districts to promote local businesses.
The chamber has also unveiled a map highlighting local merchants that will be given to shoppers at various stores throughout Midwood. The "shop local" campaign is part of the newly-created "I Invest" Program, and will serve as a catalyst for economic development throughout the neighborhood, Scissura said.