EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — People are always on the move around East 125th Street; the busy East Harlem corridor between First and Fifth Avenues is home to long-time residents and businesses, as well as new commercial and residential spaces.
A new stepped-up effort is underway to encourage business activity and to help clean up the area.
About a decade ago, business owners and neighbors organized a local association known as Uptown Grand Central.
The talk on the block covers all kinds of topics from litter to the number of overdoses. A team of workers has been cleaning up the sidewalks and streets and the crew is getting reinforcements.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility, along with the team, to take care of the city,” said Joel Back.
They’re known for their bright neon jackets and yellow bags. They’re the eyes and ears of the community.
“Just a small gesture as people walk past and say thank you for cleaning up. It means a lot,” said Buddha Moss.
Nonprofit group Positive Workforce joined forces with Uptown Grand Central three years ago. It has been a job-training center in the community for 30 years.
The city has recently added funding and resources to bring on 30 workers. It’s part of Mayor Eric Adams’ “Get Stuff Clean” program.
“It’s making a big difference. People take notice and are getting on board. The lighting is up. They see people getting involved and they get involved,” said Ruben Thomas with Positive Workforce.
Business owners and neighbors say the network connects the community to resources and one another.
“In a neighborhood it has to be about unity, and working with the neighbors and showing support,” said Mohammed Diallo, owner of Ginjan Cafe at 125th and Park Avenue.
A vacant parking lot was also transformed in December to community space on the south side of 125th Street under the Metro-North tracks.
Members of the expanded clean team work seven days a week.