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Extra Street Cleaning Services Coming to East Tremont Avenue

img_0970 Trash bins overflow with cups, plastic bags and other garbage all along East Tremont street in the South Bronx. Dog waste and cigarette butts litter every street corner. Local officials announced on September 9th that the city would provide extra sweeping services to the borough. “We expected that our community will be cleaner and nicer just as other boroughs in our city,” said  John Sanchez, Community Board Manager of East Tremont. East Tremont Avenue is the busiest street in the neighborhood. Restaurants, delis and groceries line up on each side of the street where garbage has been a problem for a long time. The city had contracted with Fedcap, a local sanitation company, paying $143,000 for  extra sweeping services in the South Bronx. Approximately $30,000 of the total is slated for East Tremont, according to Sanchez. “There are big complaints about East Tremont right now. The Sanitation Department doesn’t pick up commercial trash, the small business along the busy commercial corridor of East Tremont must contract with private haulers to collect their garbage,” said Sanchez. “What the city pays for is extra sweeping which the sanitation department doesn’t do.” According to the NYC Department of Sanitation’s regulations, businesses in New York City must hire private carting companies for collection and disposal services and to clean the sidewalks adjoining their property, as well as 18 inches from the curb at least twice a day. “We sweep the street every morning for East Tremont Avenue except Sunday,” said the superintendent of Bronx Sanitation Department District 6. “And we clean baskets everyday,” he added. img_0916However, for some business owners on East Tremont Avenue, cleaning the waste thrown by pedestrians and nearby residents has become a huge burden for them. Tito Mecina, an employee of Star Communications, a cellphone store at the corner of East Tremont Avenue, complained about the endless sweeping. He said that he cleans the sidewalks every two hours from 8 a.m. in the morning until the store closes at 5 p.m, but he can never keep up. “People just litter everything on the floor, but there’s a trash bin at the corner,” added Mecina angrily.   Litter overflows from trash bins as well. “It’s always full, you know, every time I go back home from the market, it’s full,” said Alana Barker, a resident at 1904 Vyse Avenue who passes along East Tremont Avenue every day, pointing to the trash bin in the corner of Vyse Avenue and East Tremont Avenue. “And I don’t think those shops often clean the street,” Barker said she saw shopkeepers sweeping up a few times. img_0958 Store owners said rush hour poses a particular burden to them. Customers pour in and out of  delis and grocery stores, leaving their litter along the sidewalks. “We can be very busy in the evening and you see we don’t have much staff,” said Mauricio, the owner of Big Al Deli at 109 E Tremont Ave. Hiring private trash haulers can be every expensive for some small businesses. “We contract with Mid-Bronx Haulage Corp,” said Bilal Zafar, who helps in his father’s 99-cent grocery store at 816 East Tremont Avenue. He said they paid the company more than $350 monthly to pick up their trash. The fines for not picking up trash are $150 a day. Other stores that do not have a lot of trash can pay less. For example, the shop owner of A-Z Gift Shop at 726 East Tremont Avenue paid $25 per week for her private hauler. She sweeps the street in front of her shop by herself. “It will help us a lot if they do that,” said Mecina when he was told that the city will provide extra sweeping services to his neighborhood. “I didn’t see them sweeping the street for a while you know, at least not today.” Fedcap, which merged with the Wildcat Services, is a non-profit organization that hires the previously unemployed, homeless, as well as ex-offenders and disconnected youth for city jobs. “Because we just start right now, we only have six employees and one supervisor for the East Tremont area, but we are planning to hire another 12 employees,” said Mario La Rosa, the manager of Fedcap’s operations.
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Sweeping Map of East Tremont: Route 1:East Tremont from LaFontaine Ave – West Farm Road (Webster Ave – Arthur Ave already serviced under CM Torres); Route 2:East 180th Street from Crotona Park – Vye Ave; Site:Crotona Parkway Mall

Sweeping services began on October 17, on East Tremont from LaFontaine Avenue to West Farms Road, Southern Blvd/Crotona Parkway Center Mall, and East 180th Street from Crotona Parkway Avenue . “It will be done approximately two times a week and it will be going on through June of 2017,” said Sanchez. Staff from the Bronx Sanitation Department said they had no plans to increase pick up time and sweeping time after the services stop next year for now.

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Southern Bronx0 Comments

Giving Back in the Bronx

Giving Back in the Bronx

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On September 5, the day before school started, Ronald Goodwin stood on the corner of Washington and East Tremont Avenues handing out free, brightly colored backpacks and food   donated by the Bronx Health Center to children and their parents. 

“Yeah, it’s for the kids,” smiled Goodwin, 40, advocacy worker with Community Health and Human Services, an organization with 40 volunteers dedicated to providing basic health, job training and counseling for teenagers, as well as parenting classes and child support services.

“I’m trying to help the kids and teenagers in our neighborhood who may have the same issues as me,” said Goodwin, sitting in his small basement office in a shared space with another veteran services group of  Bronx Health Center at 471 E. Tremont Ave. “I don’t want to see them go through what I had been through. And I know how it hurts.”

Goodwin’s dream had always been giving back to the neighborhood where he was first arrested on grand larceny charges at age 15 for stealing a car. He spent six months on Rikers Island. Soon after he was sent upstate for first-degree manslaughter for 22 years. He regrets having spent half his life in prison, away from his family. His grandmother died while he was locked up.

The Bronx was his home beginning at age 13 when he moved there from Manhattan with his mother. Memories of his childhood fill him with anger and sadness. His father, he said, was a drug addict, a hustler, and alcoholic who used to abuse his mother. The drugs, alcohol and violence all around him eventually affected his behavior.

“I was diagnosed as hyperactive when I was in high school and I used to be a drug dealer in our neighborhood when I was around 15,” Goodwin said with a trembling voice. “I remembered I saw one of my dad’s friends shoot himself in the head in my bedroom when I was 9-years-old. I can still remember the smell, you know, the smell when someone fires a shot.”

His new venture, Community Health and Human Services, is primarily funded by the Bronx Health Center that Goodwin and his wife, Tracy, manage together. Other funds come from donations made by individual business owners in the neighborhood, such as Krispy Kurz.

“Ronald works really hard to make it happen,” said Goodwin’s wife Tracy, watching her husband preparing backpacks and food for the community during the event. All his time is spent devoted to the program now, she added.

Goodwin’s future plans are low-key. “For now,” he said, “I just want to raise some money to develop a computer center for students to get useful information and do their homework after school.”

Posted in Bronx Beats, Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Multimedia, Southern Bronx0 Comments