By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sweeping changes have come to Milestone Park in Bensonhurst. Literally! The small park, located on 18th Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets, was swept clean by a group of volunteers on June 23 as part of an ongoing effort by Councilman Vincent Gentile, Assemblyman Bill Colton, and Community Board 11 to spruce up the neighborhood.
Cub scouts, intermediate school students, high schoolers, church groups, and local residents all volunteered for duty on Sunday morning. After getting a pep talk from Gentile and Colton, everyone got to work sweeping litter from the ground with brooms, shovels and gloves supplied by the city’s Department of Sanitation.
“It’s great for the park and it’s wonderful for the volunteers, too,” Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle before the cleanup started. “They get a sense of pride in knowing that they did something good for their community,” he said.
Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said the goal of the cleanup was to raise awareness of the importance of keeping the neighborhood free of litter. “Maybe if your neighbor sees you picking up litter, it will inspire them to be more conscious of their surroundings and think twice before littering next time,” he said.
“Everyone loves a clean neighborhood, including our visitors,” Gentile added.
The volunteers included a group of Cub Scouts from Troop 20, students from Dyker Heights Intermediate School and New Utrecht High School, and members of the Saint Paul-Saint Athanasius youth group from Saint Athanasius Catholic Church on Bay Parkway. Mark Treyger, a teacher at New Utrecht High School, and Laurie Windsor, vice chairman of Community Board 11, also pitched in.
The volunteers had been set to give the park’s benches a fresh coat of paint, but opted not to. Sara Steinweiss, an aide to Gentile, said the park was in full use, with many people sitting on its benches. “We don’t want to disturb anyone,” she said. The bench painting would have to wait for another day.
Gentile and Colton have co-sponsored community sweeps, including graffiti cleanups, in the past. The two lawmakers are planning a graffiti cleanup of the 86th Street shopping strip on July 15.
Milestone Park is named for the milestone marker it contains. The current milestone is a replica of the original marker placed at the location in 1741 to assist travelers needing directions.
The original milestone made of sandstone, is housed in the Brooklyn Historical Society, according to the Parks Department website. But the granite reproduction occupies the same spot where the original stood.