NYCHA turf gets once-in-a-lifetime cleaning for de Blasio visit

If you want your public housing development to get a good cleaning, invite Mayor de Blasio to hold a news conference there.

A day before Hizzoner swooped in for a brief photo op, cleaning crews descended on Staten Island’s Mariners Harbor Houses to beautify its lawns and scrub its community center — only for de Blasio to leave without ever stepping inside.

“I’ll tell you right now — this place has never been this clean,” fumed Blanche Aponte, 49, a lifelong resident of the development.

“You come out here next week and there will be garbage all over the place.”

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On Friday, the wide lawns between the tiered brick buildings were spotless. The mayor announced plans to spend $ 5.7 million to renovate and expand a community center from its current spot in a former laundry room.

“It means something very personal to folks who live here,” de Blasio said. “We’ve had opportunities for residents and particularly again for youth, but we haven’t had enough. ”

The mayor took off without taking questions — a common frustration for reporters, but also a gripe of Rafael Ramirez, 50, who was picking up his grandkids and his visiting his mother.

“He takes pictures, but no questions,” Ramirez said as de Blasio wrapped up his event.

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He had plenty of questions for the mayor, and was frustrated residents weren’t notified he’d be at their development. He wished de Blasio visited the elevator in his family’s building, which “stinks,” so it’d get cleaned like the community center pols stood outside of.

“I was walking by and I was like, man, I smell pine, it smells real good,” Ramirez recalled. “And you know what it was? They were cleaning the center. Now I know why.”

Residents of Staten Island

Residents of Staten Island’s NYCHA-managed Mariners Harbor Houses wish their lawns could be cleaned once in a while without a mayoral visit spurring the effort.

(Jillian Jorgensen/New York Daily News)

The buildings are plagued by roaches and mice, said Aponte, who in 2016 was awarded $ 250,000 in a lawsuit against NYCHA over bedbugs in her apartment.

NYCHA has appealed the decision, while Aponte says the unit still has bedbugs.

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The community center that’s getting a facelift is the only place for kids in housing development, she noted — summer sprinklers won’t turn on until late July, and renovations to a nearby city park include permanently shuttering a swimming pool.

“You can’t barbecue out here. If you barbecue, the cops will give you a fine. You can’t have parties out here because the cops will give you a fine,” she said. “NYCHA does nothing for their community. They have taken everything away.”

As the residents shared their frustrations with the press, de Blasio was en route to his SUV. After about 10 minutes, Michael Kelly, the general manager of NYCHA, walked over to hear the residents out and offer his business card. Like the thorough cleaning, that seemed to be another unusual moment.

“I’ve never seen that man in my life,” Aponte said.

According to NYCHA, the development has seen a 21% drop in open work orders under the NextGeneration operations program, and the average time for basic maintenance and repair work to be done at the development is 2.6 days.

“All NYCHA residents deserve to live in well maintained communities,” spokeswoman Ilana Maier said. “Under NextGeneration Operations, our long-term plan to become better a landlord and improve resident quality of life, Mariner’s Harbor has improved maintenance times, decreasing the response time for maintenance work orders to 2.6 days, and also new grounds staff, that means a cleaner development, faster repairs and overall higher quality of life. We will continue working to tirelessly uphold our commitment to providing residents safe, stable and connected communities.” 

bill de blasio
staten island
mariners harbor

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