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Programs Keep Morris Park Clean

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The Bronx Business Alliance and the Morris Park Business Alliance are not big fans of garbage.

The two groups have joined to start a small street cleaning project along Morris Park Avenue to ensure the entire area is kept trash-free.

Since 2009 Senator Jeff Klein has been providing funding to the DOE Fund with a $275,000 grant for the Ready Willing and Able program to keep the streets in his district clean.

Although the project has maintained a trash- and graffiti-free Morris Park Avenue from White Plains to Williamsbridge Road, there are three blocks in the business district that do not receive the service, and it shows.

“We started a pilot program with some volunteers to augment that,” said Bobby Ruggiero, president of the Morris Park Alliance. “We’re basically doing the same thing the Ready Willing and Able is doing, so they sweep the sidewalks, change the trash bags and sweep the curbs.”

The crews work from White Plains Road to the end of the district, and then spin around to cover St. Dominic’s Church and school — in total a nine-block area, Ruggiero said.

Crews have been cleaning the route for the past month, from about 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily. The BBA is providing the funding to StarGate Technology Learning, which is an agency that provides job skills training through basic employment and internships at places like restaurants and clean-up crews.

“It’s a great program. It gives them a little work history and great skill development,” said Margaret Arrighi, president of the BBA. “For us it helps to bring certain services to commercial corridors that we are hoping to be able to provide on a more permanent basis.”

This the first clean-up project the BBA has funded, and providing the service should help bring more customers to the area, Arrighi said.

She said that the BBA decided to focus its initial efforts on the Morris Park district because, with several new businesses coming online soon and various improvement projects underway, the district clearly showed a need.

“That Morris Park stretch isn’t huge, and what we’d like to see is having this through the whole Morris Park area,” she said. “We’re trying to really rev things up over there.”

According to Ruggiero, funding for the project will only last a few more months, but he is hoping that when the owners see the benefits of clean streets, they will join him to reach out to elected officials for additional funds so the program can continue.

“The funny thing with garbage and graffiti, when it’s clean and it’s gone nobody notices it, but when it’s there everybody sees it,” Ruggiero said.

“With them out in the street cleaning up every day, the boulevard becomes considerably cleaner. We got this program up and running when we realized there was a gap. Now we’re hoping we can get some help to continue the funding.”

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@cnglocal.com

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group