Douglas Jones, executive director of the Bed-Stuy Gateway B.I.D., has only been on the job four months, but already, he has one huge success to his credit: He is cleaning up Fulton Street.
“When I came in, folks were really complaining about the lack of cleanliness on Fulton Street,” Jones said. “It was just dirty, everywhere.”
Jones went to Atlantic Maintenance, the company that provides cleaning services along Fulton. Atlantic’s annual contract with the BID was up for renewal, but Jones did not feel comfortable renewing the contract before seeing significant improvement. So instead, he retained the company on a trial, month-to-month basis.
Immediately, David Goldberg, one of Atlantic’s co-founders, made some personnel changes. And the response is positive. “We’ve been getting a lot of very good feedback,” he said in a phone interview.
Stephon McDonald, 23, has worked for Atlantic Maintenance for 2 years. He agreed the recent personnel changes were for the better. “People [were] getting fired because they [weren’t] doing their job. And that’s their fault,” he said.
McDonald and his co-workers walk up and down Fulton Street, from Franklin Avenue to Marcus Garvey Boulevard, with a trash can on wheels, a broom, a dustpan and cleaning supplies.
Goldberg said between three to five employees are present on the street from 6:30am to 7:00pm. Now, both residents and business owners can admit, they definitely see improvement.
“Fulton Street is coming back,” said street vendor Beverly Johnson, 51, from behind a folding table full of homemade desserts.
Sab Salgado is an Army veteran and a native of Bedford-Stuyvesant. “I’ve lived around here all my 38 years, and I would say, coming back and forth, even when I was in the Army for the last five years, there’s a big difference.”
Dan Cannon is a Bed-Stuy native who now lives on Staten Island, though he is often in his home neighborhood for work. He agreed that Atlantic Maintenance’s efforts have improved.
“When they first started, they wasn’t doing as good as they started doing recently,” he said. “You didn’t really see them visible enough. The sidewalks and the streets reflected that.”
When asked what he saw in Bed-Stuy’s future, Cannon answered, “prosperity.”
Joyce P. Turner agreed. “Any effort is better than no effort at all,” she said, sitting in the same real estate office her father founded at Fulton Street and Throop Avenue. A member of Bed-Stuy Gateway’s board, Turner still saw room for improvement, and hoped Gateway’s efforts would inspire her fellow residents to take responsibility for Fulton Street.
“I have a feeling that once we work more on beautifying it, that maybe people will take a little more pride in their neighborhood,” she said.
McDonald said he’s seeing that from residents already.
“People see me up and down, cleaning Fulton Street, they don’t throw nothing on the ground,” he said. “Some people still do, but they just pick it up, say ‘I’m sorry,” and throw it in the garbage.”