Call them the ‘clean team.’
Councilman Ritchie Torres and Councilman James Vacca, whose adjoining districts contain portions of Morris Park and Van Nest, have banded together to bring The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing, and Able work crews to clean Morris Park Avenue from East 180 Street to Williamsbridge Road.
The joint effort was announced at a press conference at the East 180th Street IRT #2 and #5 train station on Friday, January 16 that included the councilmen, Doe Fund founder and president George McDonald, Community Board 6 district manager Irvine Galarza, Community Board 11 chairman Tony Vitaliano, and leaders from the Morris Park Community Association and Van Nest Neighborhood Association.
The cleanliness of a neighborhood is a reflection of its character, and if we fail to keep our commercial corridors and residential streets clean, it sends a message that we do not care, said Torres.
“Local residents and entrepreneurs deserve clean, livable conditions where their families and businesses can thrive,” said Torres. “I am proud that we were able to secure funding to partner with the Doe Fund to bring additional sanitation services to Van Nest and Morris Park.”
Torres spoke first and then introduced Vacca, who he said Vacca was called ‘Mr. Clean.’ in a 1994 news article. Before becoming a councilman, Torres worked as a Vacca aide.
Vacca stressed that clean streets are a community effort, adding that he is often distressed when he sees someone throw a wrapper on the ground. He called having the Doe Fund cleaning crews on the street a “win-win.”
“The cleanliness of our streets speaks to how residents and visitors view the community,” said Vacca. “I was able to allocate money this year so that street cleaners from The Doe Fund could join the effort to keep our streets litter free. If you see Doe Fund workers sweeping or bagging garbage, let it be a reminder that we all must do our part to keep the community clean.”
Both councilmen allocated $68,000 each for the Doe Fund crews, and a spokesman for Councilman Torres said that about a dozen other council members also brought the program to their district.
Tony Signorile, president of the Morris Park Community Association, stressed that having clean streets can attract new residents and businesses; Bob Nolan of the VNNA said that having cleaner streets is one of several developments in the community including the opening of a new public school in the fall; and Bernadette Ferrara, also of VNNA, said she stops to thank the workcrews for helping keep Van Nest clean.
The Doe Fund provides work opportunities to people who were formerly homeless.
One of the Ready, Willing, and Able cleaners working on the six-days-a-week cleanup, is Eugene Samuels, who said he was assigned to remove liter and debris on Morris Park Avenue from the train station at East 180th Street to Holland Aveneue.
“I started with Doe in October, and as soon as I got here, I started to feel better,” he said. “People are coming off the train saying ‘you are doing a great job’ and ‘keep up the good work.’”
More blocks along East 180th Street from Morris Park Avenue leading to Boston Road, that are only in Torres’ district only, are also being cleaned. In total, 29 blocks total will be street cleaned by the ‘men in blue,’ as the crews are called because of their blue work-suits.