Sean Sweeney’s November Email Newsletter
– Street Cleaning Begins
– $60,000 Council Grant Secured
– 32+ New Litter Baskets Purchased
– Clean Up SoHo Announces Launch Party, Sunday, December 10
Dear Danielle ,
We are pleased to announce that street-cleaning services have returned to SoHo after a year’s hiatus. Additionally, dozens of new, improved, extra-capacity litter baskets will be appearing next week on a corner near you – all thanks to independent community activism.
When ACE stopped sweeping our sidewalks last November, a grassroots group of residents and businesses, Clean Up SoHo, formed to restore the services we had come to expect.
Although many people were involved in this effort, special kudos must go to Dianne Mendez of SoHo Salon and to Danielle Nazinitsky of Soho Strut. Working with the SoHo Alliance, we have achieved a first for New York City – a community improvement district instead of the usual unwieldy Business Improvement District (BID) model.
First, Clean Uo SoHo launched an education campaign to encourage stores and buildings to sweep their sidewalks regularly, as required by law. The Department of Sanitation is beginning to issue violations to offenders.
Next we secured initial financial pledges from several individuals, coops, condos, and retail spaces.
However, our real achievement came with a $60,000 grant from the New York City Council via the office of Councilmember Margaret Chin. We are very grateful for the councilmember’s assistance in funding our clean-up efforts. SoHo generates incredible revenue for the city in the form of sales and real-estate taxes. It is gratifying to see some of it come back our way.
Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district extends westwards from the west side of Thompson Street, also secured council funds to purchase several oversized litter baskets for Prince and Spring Streets, as well as paying for street cleaning at Father Fagan Square on Sixth Avenue. (Incidentally, the park is undergoing restoration which is expected to be completed by January.)
With the $60,000 from Councilmember Chin on hand, Clean Uo SoHo interviewed several non-profit cleaning services. We selected Wildcat, a 501-c3 nonprofit that provides job opportunities, vocational training, and other resources for struggling New Yorkers seeking to become economically independent. Incidentally, Wildcat’s estimate was a fraction of ACE’s proposal.
Wildcat began emptying and bagging our litter baskets in early November and you will see its workers in their green overalls, as well as its green plastic bags lining our corner trash bins. Services extend from Mercer Street to Thompson Street, Houston to Canal.
Furthermore, Clean Up SoHo launched a campaign to purchase dozens of oversized litter baskets for our street corners, the sturdy green ones often found in business improvement districts, replacing the flimsy mesh baskets that the city provides.
Over a dozen folk responded and we are delighted to announce that the first batch of eighteen baskets has been approved by the Sanitation Department with a second batch of ten awaiting approval. The first batch will arrive the first week of December.
First Batch of 18 – Approved by DSNY and Ordered
- CBRE – 2 Baskets
- Goldman Properties – 1 Basket
- 60 Guilders – 6 Baskets
- Premier Equities & SoHo Alliance – 8 Baskets
- Bloomingdale’s – 1 Basket
Second Batch of 10 – Submitted to DSNY for Approval
- Art & Lynn Schnitzer – 1 Basket
- Wooster House – 1 Basket
- ASB Real Estate – 1 Basket
- Greene Street Holding – 1 Basket
- 35 Wooster Street – 1 Basket
- Joan & Marc Sherman – 2 Baskets
- 210 Lafayette – 2 Baskets
- 456-8 Broome Street – 1 Basket
Third Batch of 4 – Sponsorship Submitted
- 515 Broadway Corp. – 2 Baskets
- Elyssa Ackerman – 2 Baskets
A half dozen other individuals and businesses have also expressed interest in sponsorship.
If you, your building or your business would like information on how to sponsor a basket, please email email@example.com. The cost is $1,500 and the basket will have a plaque with the name of the sponsor and a message encouraging a clean SoHo.
Continued Fundraising Required
However, the city council’s $60,000 will only pay for a few months of cleaning service. Now that we have set up the machinery, we strongly urge you or your building to contribute to Clean Up SoHo.
People have asked what is an appropriate amount. It depends, but we suggest a Dollar-A-Day from each individual or unit, or $365 a year. So a ten-unit building might decide to give $3650 annually, which is tax-deductible. But whatever can be afforded is welcomed.
Our goal is to have 100 new, oversized litter baskets in SoHo and an annual fundraising campaign of $100,000 for supplemental street cleaning!
There is talk afoot to create a Business Improvement District (BID) for SoHo. That would be terrible. Not only would it give undue influence to its small board of directors, it could result in increased property taxes up to $10 million dollars.
The BID on Broadway has requested a budget increase to $900,000 annually. That’s just for Broadway. Multiply that amount by the other dozen or so streets that comprise SoHo and you get an approximate $10 million dollar property tax increase to pay not only for street-cleaning but also for the salaries of the BID employees and its offices.
Considering the increased number of empty stores and pop-ups, can SoHo retail and property owners afford the kind of tax burden BIDs create? Do residents want to cede power to a corporate structure most of whose members do not live here or care for residents’ concerns?
A tax-deductible contribution to Clean Up SoHo now may save you a lot more in taxes later on, while keeping our neighborhood a desirable place to live and work.
Finally, Clean Up SoHo Announces a Launch Party. The festive event is scheduled for Sunday, December 10 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Ray Ban, 116 Wooster Street. Local residents, business owners and stakeholders are invited for the open house to learn more about the project and to continue our momentum. Tickets are free but you must RSVP to CleanUpSoho.Eventbrite.com