Southern Boulevard will likely look a bit cleaner in the coming weeks thanks to new services announced last week by Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr.
Starting September 19, the city will be paying Wildcat Services, a local private sanitation services firm, to help cleanup the perpetually busy business corridor that runs down the western side of the borough.
Salamanca announced Friday, August 9 at a press conference outside his Southern Boulevard office he had allocated $140,000 in funding for the Longwood, Mott Haven and Hunts Point areas to help clean up garbage and refuse that litters the area.
“They will assist areas in our community that do not get that much attention from sanitation itself, as far as cleaning the streets, graffiti removal, snow removal, tree maintenance,” Salamanca said. “I’m really excited because I have a big district, a district where there is a lot of traffic flow, and I want to ensure that it’s just as clean as midtown Manhattan.”
Wildcat Services is a non-profit founded in 1972 to provide employment opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed, including groups such as homeless, ex-convicts and the mentally disabled.
Director of operation for Wildcat Services Mario LaRosa said his was one of the few companies giving people second chances in the city by paying them to perform sanitation type jobs like sweeping and power washing.
“We work with them (employees) to give them opportunities,” LaRosa said. “The funding goes to cleaning the neighborhood, and we give opportunities to people through on-the-job training programs to gain a job, gain some current skills, update their resume and become more marketable in the job market.”
Brooklyn Councilman and Sanitation and Solid Waste Committee chairman Antonio Reynoso said he hoped the program would help set a new standard of cleanliness in the Bronx.
“The city of New York should always set the standard in how we look and how we provide for our constituents,” Reynoso said. “Salamanca has been able to keep that standard and keep that promise that (streets of) the Bronx look just as clean as any other street in the city if not better thanks to the services we are providing.”
Salamanca was also joined by Community Board 1 district manager Cedic Loftin, Community Board 3 district manager John Dudley and Community Board 6 John Sanchez, who thanked Salamanca for the funding.
“This initiative you have taken will change the dynamics that we’ve been struggling with for so long,” Loftin said of the program.
Sanchez said the second chances the program offers for some high-risk residents were also welcome in the borough.
“We’re not only creating safer streets and cleaner streets, we’re also creating opportunities,” he said.
The service wil operate four days a week.