Southern Boulevard BID sweeps away litter

Community Solutions puts non-violent Bronx offenders to work in the neighborhoods they call home. Photo by Daniel Beekman

A year and a half ago, Southern Boulevard was dirty. Candy wrappers. Metrocards. Burger bags. Beer bottles.

Community Board 2 asked Community Solutions for help. Community Solutions puts non-violent offenders from the Bronx Criminal Court to work.

Now the strip sparkles, and Southern Boulevard’s Business Improvement District launched its own sanitation effort January 2.

“All good news,” CB 2 district manager John Robert said. “Southern Boulevard looks better, thanks to Community Solutions. Bring on the BID! We want Southern Boulevard attractive and secure.”

According to Community Solutions’ service coordinator, Moises Reyes, Southern Boulevard is a litter corridor – long, busy and windy. Unscrupulous shoppers toss trash on the ground. At night, bottle collectors ransack the strip’s garbage bags.

The litter annoys Southern Boulevard merchants, ticketed by the city when their storefronts aren’t clean. Needless to say, the merchants are fond of Reyes’ team.

“They’ve done a good job,” said Tony, who manages Ashby Furniture and gave only his first name. “Before, the litter was wild. We got four tickets in a single day.”

Bronx Eyecare’s Jazmin Rivera praised “the orange guys.” Reyes’ workers – shoplifters, trespassers, prostitutes and turnstile hoppers – wear bright orange vests.

“It’s helped,” Rivera said. “I don’t have to worry about sweeping up anymore.”

Michael Sylvester of the clothing shop Hip-Hop BX has noticed the BID’s hired hands, too. They wear dark jumpsuits.

“The litter situation is improving,” Sylvester said. “Which is good. This strip gets messed up.”

Community Solutions visited Southern Boulevard Mondays and Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The businesses loved it,” Reyes said. “God knows they needed us.”

Community Solutions is no longer needed. The BID has contracted Nelson Services to clean Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“So far, so good,” said Medina Sadiq, the BID’s executive director. “We’re sweeping. We’re cleaning the tree pits. We’re collecting sidewalk trash.”

The Southern Boulevard BID formed a year ago and began to receive funding recently. Sanitation is Sadiq’s first initiative. Up next: security.

Robert blames careless shoppers for Southern Boulevard’s debris.

“It’s the way people behave,” he said. “I’ve seen kids open up candy bars and, in one motion, drop the wrappers to the floor.”

But Robert has faith in the shopping strip.

“Even when the Bronx was burning, Southern Boulevard thrived,” he said. “It may take a generation to change the way people treat the strip, but we’re moving forward.”

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