Flushing BID bags 820,000 pounds of trash per year

Myra Baird Herce (third from r.) accepts a commendation from city Comptroller John Liu as Dian Yu (l.-r.) City Councilman Peter Koo, Tina Lee and Timothy Chuang look on. Photo by Joe Anuta
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Last year sanitation teams hired by a downtown Flushing business improvement district collected 32,850 bags of garbage, the executive director told the BID’s annual meeting last week.

A four-person sanitation team, working in addition to the standard city service, logged 16,312 hours last year to pick up those bags of trash, which totaled 821,250 pounds — roughly the same weigh as a fully loaded Boeing 747.

“If we don’t remove that garbage, we would have very, very dirty streets,” said Dian Yu, who ran through the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District’s accomplishments from last year and what the nonprofit hopes to do in the next fiscal year.

The BID’s main job is to power wash the sidewalks, collect garbage from extra trash cans placed in the downtown area, make repairs and repaint lampposts in the area.

Specifically, the BID covers Main Street from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue and several of the large streets branching off of Main as well.

Yu said he hopes to continue hauling excess refuse out of the area, but also has a few tricks to make the downtown area a more enticing place to shop.

For instance, Yu wants to install hanging plants along some of the streets downtown to bring a little green to an area where each inch of pavement is a precious commodity.

“The streets in downtown Flushing are very narrow, so we are aggressively working with [the city] to install up to 20 plant baskets,” Yu said.

The BID spends close to $400,000 each year to clean up the streets, but also cleans out catch basins, puts up holiday lights and hosts community events, according to Yu.

“That is how we promote shoppers to stay local,” he said.

One ongoing project is a comprehensive restaurant guide that allows both tourists and longtime residents to branch out and try some of the myriad types of food the area has to offer.

Yu has also been disseminating a bus map so tourists can make sense of the dizzying number of routes that go through the downtown area.

The BID is in its ninth year, but Yu has only been at the helm for two, a short stint that has already produced noticeable results, according to Community Board 7, which has offices in the heart of downtown.

“There is a marked difference in downtown Flushing and we wish him success,” said Marilyn Bitterman, executive director of CB 7. “His success is our success.”

But City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) said that while Yu has had an impact on the condition of downtown, there is still more work to be done.

“Compared to other communities, we are still behind in many areas,” he said.

City Comptroller John Liu returned to his stomping grounds — he held Koo’s seat until 2009 — to honor a longtime resident of the neighborhood for working to make the BID a reality.

“I would call her the mother of this business improvement district,” Liu said, referring to Myra Baird Herce, who once ran the now-defunct Flushing Chamber of Commerce. Liu presented her with a proclamation honoring her service to the community, and she picked up a plaque from the BID as well.

Baird Herce officially announced the end of the Flushing chamber earlier this year, although it had been inactive for some time.

A new chamber is in the planning stages by several civic groups and nonprofits in the downtown area.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 8:31 pm, May 30, 2012
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