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Daily street cleanup commences in Rego Park

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Doe Fund workers descended for the first time Monday on Rego Park for what is to be a daily clean-up operation brought about by state Sen. Dan Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) to transform the area’s commercial neighborhoods.

“For far too long Rego Park has endured filthy streets and overflowing litter baskets,” Hevesi said in announcing the project.

Hevesi said that in the daily operation from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. including weekends, workers will cover the commercial streets of Rego Park, picking up trash, sweeping sidewalks, emptying garbage cans, removing fliers, posters and graffiti as well as cleaning the exterior of fire hydrants, light poles, street signs and mailboxes. In winter, they will remove snow from crosswalks and bus stops.

The area serviced includes all of 63rd Drive from the railroad trestle by the Shalimar Diner up to Queens Boulevard and on 63rd Road for one block north of Queens Boulevard to 97th Street.

In addition, coverage will include the north side of Queens Boulevard from 62nd Drive by Greenpoint Bank running east all the way to 64th Avenue by Blimpie's.

The south side of Queens Boulevard will be serviced from the Econo Phone Card Shop running east all the way to the Rego Park Jewish Center.

“It’s a big area,” Hevesi said and will make a big difference. “This program, which is currently up and running in Forest Hills, has made an immediate and enormous difference in the lives of residents, shoppers, visitors and merchants alike.”

Jay Parker, president of the Rego Park Merchants Association and owner of Ben's Best Deli, said, “this has been a long time coming and we all owe a debt of thanks to Dan Hevesi for bringing this to fruition.”

The clean-up program in Rego Park, which has also spruced up streets in parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem and the Upper East and West Side of Manhattan, is run by the Doe Fund in cooperation with Hevesi’s office. Rego Park Merchants’ Association will administer the program locally.

Money for the cleanup was obtained from the state of New York through Hevesi’s efforts.

The privately supported Doe Fund is named for Mama Doe, the name given to an unidentified homeless woman whose body was found on the street on Christmas 1985.

The program involves volunteers composed of homeless people and those released from prison. They first work at cleaning streets for $5.50 to $6.50 an hour, then graduate to other kinds of work while taking vocational education classes and as necessary undergoing alcohol and drug detoxification sessions. Sixty-five percent of more than 1,000 Doe Fund graduates have become permanent job holders.

Supporting the project were U.S. Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills and Nita Lowey (D-Rego Park), state Assemblyman Michael Cohen (D-Forest Hills), City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), and Community Board 6 District Manager Kathleen Reilly and board members.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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