Middletown’s Business Improvement District is trying to get the area’s business owners to help keep the streets clean.
Thursday morning, Mayor Joe DeStefano and folks from the downtown Business Improvement District kicked off “Operation Clean Sweep” by stopping in most of the shops on North Street from Courtland Street to Park Circle, passing out dustpans, brooms and brochures. DeStefano said he wants the shopowners to help keep the sidewalks in front of their businesses litter-free.
“We’re not coming with a hammer,” he said. “We’re coming with a carrot.”
DeStefano said they decided to focus on making the North Street corridor more appealing after meeting with a few business owners there who were complaining about people loitering and engaging in undesirable behavior.
“They asked for more of a police presence, and we’re doing that,” he said.
Alvaro Garcia Jr., whose family owns Garcia’s Supermarket, said he hopes the city’s efforts will help draw more people to the businesses on North Street. The street’s image keeps some people away, he said.
“I think that’s a good effort on the part of the city,” he said.
The market was recently renovated, with the help of loans from the National Development Council and the city. Garcia said their investment, as well as making things better for the customers, represents his family’s faith in the area. The work is mostly done; a Super Tortas Mexicanas torta franchise should be moving into the store soon after finalizing deals with suppliers, Garcia said.
DeStefano said he hopes “Clean Sweep” will help counter criticism that the city has spent too much time on the West Main Street/South Street area and not enough on the city’s other business corridors. As well as enforcing laws against violations like littering, speeding and cars playing loud music on North Street, he said they want to make it more inviting by putting in more street lights and trimming some of the overgrown trees on the street and the weeds in the alleys.
DeStefano also said the city wants to increase parking there — the city recently repaved the formerly crater-filled lot next to the Second Baptist Church, and he said they’re looking into taking an abandoned building on North Street (he didn’t say which) through eminent domain and knocking it down to create more parking.
In the coming weeks, they plan to hit other areas of North Street, and other pockets of the city with strips of businesses, like the Monhagen Avenue/West Main Street area and Wickham Avenue.
The BID, whose budget is separate from the city’s, paid for the brooms.