Tag Archives: Department of Sanitation

Maspeth residents call foul on late nights at Metropolitan Oval soccer field

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan's office

Maspeth residents raised the yellow card over late-night problems at a local soccer field, prompting a local lawmaker to take action.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan visited on Monday with several Maspeth families to discuss issues centered around the Metropolitan Oval soccer field, located in the vicinity of 60th Street and 59th Avenue, and possible solutions.

Maspeth residents Francesco Pellot and Norma Canepa say that they have witnessed excessive noise, alcohol use, littering and loitering at very late hours into the night on several occasions during the summer at the soccer complex.

Pellot and Canepa raised these issues at Community Board 5’s (CB 5) September meeting, and have collected over 100 signatures on a petition to call on the Metropolitan Oval soccer field to change its policies and become better neighbors to the community. The petition calls on the soccer field to reduce its noise levels, eliminate alcohol and suspected drug use, reduce littering around the area, improve the field’s security and close at a reasonable time.

“My office received several complaints from local residents about this establishment,” Nolan said in a statement. “The Metropolitan Oval has an obligation to be a good corporate citizen and respect the quality of life of nearby residents. I am optimistic that all parties involved can come to a resolution.”

Nolan passed these complaints along to the 104th Precinct and the Department of Sanitation, which has forwarded the complaints to their Enforcement Unit.

“I forwarded these very serious complaints to several city agencies including the 104th Precinct, which responded and has monitored the situation for the past several weeks,” Nolan said. “Thank you Captain Wachter and the 104th Precinct for tackling this very serious issue. I look forward to hearing back from the other agencies so we can continue to preserve the quality of life for all our local residents.”

The 4.2-acre Metropolitan Oval hosts a U.S. Soccer Development Academy of the same name that allows youths of all ages to play and learn the fundamentals of soccer through specialized training programs, camps and clinics.

The Ridgewood Times reached out to Metropolitan Oval for comment and is awaiting a response.


DSNY expanding organics pilot program to southeast Queens

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Five southeast Queens neighborhoods will be included in the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) latest expansion of the NYC Organics voluntary curbside food and yard waste recycling program this fall.

Ozone Park south of 103rd Avenue and the eastern portion of Lindenwood will begin the week of Oct. 5; residents of South Ozone Park will see their organic waste collection starting the week of Oct. 12; and the collection for Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach will start the week of Nov. 2.

“We are in the process of expanding our organics program,” said Iggy Terranova, DSNY representative, at a Community Board 2 meeting last week. “Queens [District] 10 will be the next one on the market for Queens. We’re going to see that happening … hopefully it moves really well there because we want to use that as our basis on getting it out to the rest of Queens and to the rest of the city. Brooklyn [District] 6 is also getting it, so we’re pushing it as far as we can to try and make it happen for the entire city.”

The organic waste program allows items such as food scraps including fruits, vegetables, egg shells, pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, baked goods, meat and bones, flowers and houseplants, and food-soiled paper such as paper towels, napkins and paper plates to be properly recycled.

“Organic materials make up about a third of our trash,” said Kathryn Garcia, sanitation commissioner. “When you [recycle] your food and yard waste, you decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills and help create a greener and healthier New York City.”

The collected waste materials are managed locally and regionally. Some organic waste is turned into compost, and used locally by greening groups, such as urban farmers, community gardeners and street tree stewards to rebuild the city’s soil.

All single-family homes and buildings with nine or fewer residential units will automatically be enrolled into the voluntary program. Buildings with 10 or more residential units may apply online to participate.

With the organics program continuing to expand into more neighborhoods, Terranova highlighted the DSNY’s need to be prepared to properly pick up the waste.

“We have been thinking about it, logistic-wise, how are we going to pick it up. We just can’t say we are going to start organics in your neighborhood and not have the trucks to come pick it up,” Terranova said. “We have to make sure we have the proper trucks … so look forward to that happening very soon.”

The DSNY previously brought the organics collection program to Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

For more information, visit the DSNY’s website.


LIC organization provides free supplies to educators

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

One Long Island City group is changing the lives of educators throughout the city and teaching them that every object — whether it is a poster or an outdated cellphone case — has a second life.

The organizers behind Materials for the Arts (MFTA), located at 33-00 Northern Blvd., want to spread the word about their mission to as many teachers and other educators throughout the five boroughs as possible.

Operated by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, with support from the Department of Sanitation and Department of Education, MFTA offers a warehouse filled with donations from businesses big and small including Bloomingdale’s, World Vision, Saks Fifth Avenue and the Van Gogh Museum.

The site is open to educators in the New York City school system to come in, grab a shopping cart and shop — for free.

“If you can get it out the door, you can have it,” said Kwame Belle, communications coordinator for MFTA.

The 25,000-square-foot warehouse has everything from paper of all sizes to trims and fabrics, arts and crafts, toys, small props, household and small appliances, computer chairs, tables, chalkboards, computers, printers, binders, books and magazines and much more.

At the entrance of every aisle, teachers are met with displays showing ideas on how to turn items, such as a poster, into bigger projects.

Belle says that teachers can stock up for an entire school year or even come back on a “week-to-week basis.”

Along with being open weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays for teachers to raid the aisles, MFTA holds an annual Back-to-School “Shopping” Spree. On Thursday, Aug. 27, shopping will be reserved for more than 60 underperforming schools from all around the city that have been invited to come and shop for free. During the sprees, three teachers will hit the warehouse floor at time, with music in the background, and look for items. There will also be booths and workshops set up to give teachers direction and expand on what can be made with certain items.

However, MFTA doesn’t just stop at providing free stuff. The group has taken it a step further with providing professional development classes for teachers where they learn how to turn items they can find in the warehouse into engaging projects for all subjects.

“We feel the access for teachers is really important. It helps the bottom line and it helps them be more resourceful in their classroom,” said Harriet Taub, MFTA executive director. “But having the knowledge, taking our classes, that really makes them become much more confident and self-assured in how they can utilize their materials.”

Along with field trips, in-school residencies and public programs such as exhibitions and workshops open to the public, MFTA also offers DOE staff members seasonal P-Credit courses during six Saturdays throughout the year.

The next course, which will begin Sept. 19, will teach educators how to use recycled items to create musical instruments that can be used not just in art, but in math, science and literary courses.

“We connect the dots for teachers in terms of how these materials are actually essential for them to fill the Common Core requirements,” said John Kaiser, director of education at MFTA. “These are supplies not just for art, but for the art of learning, for project-based learning.”

Both Kaiser and Taub believe that the experience teachers and students have through MFTA goes beyond the warehouse and allows students, who often deal with financial hardships, to actually get a taste of the art world and access their creativity.

They added that learning to reuse common day items, which might not seem like much at first, will prepare children for the real world as they learn to be resourceful.

“By having teachers come here and taking readily available materials and bring them to their classrooms, it allows students to think about their own resources,” Taub said. “It gives you the opportunity to say, ‘I am the power behind my creativity.’”

For more information, visit materialsforthearts.org or call 718-729-3001.


Alleged drunk driver from Whitestone has run-in with sanitation truck

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo


There wasn’t a clean getaway for a Whitestone man charged with reckless endangerment and DWI after driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway and slamming into a sanitation truck, prosecutors announced.

Salvatore Ferrara, 34, reportedly claimed he did not realize he was driving on the wrong side of the road when his 2009 Mercedes-Benz collided head-on with a city Department of Sanitation truck at around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Greenpoint Avenue exit ramp of the Long Island Expressway in Long Island City.

Police on the scene allegedly observed Ferrara standing unsteadily on his feet near his totaled vehicle with bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

According to the criminal complaint, Ferrara allegedly told officers that he had been driving his car from the city, and that he had had two mixed drinks, a couple of beers and two bumps of cocaine several hours before the accident occurred.

Both Ferrara and the sanitation driver were injured in the crash. The truck driver suffered pain to his arm, while Ferrara was hospitalized for chest pain and rib injuries.

Ferrara faces charges of first-degree reckless endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and an infraction of vehicle traffic laws. If convicted, he could serve up to seven years in prison, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.


SAFE Disposal event to be held at Cunningham Park

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Sanitation

Queens residents looking to get rid of harmful household products as well as medications and electronics can bring them to Cunningham Park on Saturday, June 20.

The SAFE (solvents, automotive, flammables and electronics) Disposal event, hosted by the city’s Department of Sanitation, is one of several it’s holding throughout the five boroughs this year. There are two slated for Queens in 2015.

The June 20 event will take place, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ball Field Parking Lot. No commercial vehicles are allowed, and cars can enter on Francis Lewis Boulevard between Union Turnpike and Grand Central Parkway. Residents must provide proof of New York City residency, such as a state driver’s license or utility bill.

According to the Department of Sanitation, accepted items will include the following:

  • Automotive products such as motor oil, transmission fluid and spent batteries
  • Personal care items like unwanted medicines or cosmetics
  • Thermometers
  • Syringes (clearly labeled and packaged in a “sharps” container or other leak-proof, puncture-resistant container)
  • Household products such as pesticides, paint, hazardous cleaners, spent compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Electronics

Products should be clearly labeled, not mixed together, and tightly sealed in containers. If an item is leaking, pack it in a larger container and use an absorbent material, such as kitty litter or newspaper, to soak up excess fluid.



Myrtle Avenue BID pushes for dedicated trash pickup service

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Full and overflowing public wastebaskets are a common sight on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) is looking to do something about it.

In the fiscal year 2016 expense budget, the Myrtle Avenue BID has requested the restoration of six-day dedicated basket pickup service from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Currently, this service is only being provided three days a week within the Myrtle Avenue BID. The present service consists of a dedicated basket run on only Mondays and Wednesdays on the midnight to 8 a.m. tour. On Thursdays, the garbage baskets in the Myrtle Avenue BID often go uncollected because household refuse takes priority.

“Overflowing corner baskets are the first thing shoppers and potential new store owners see along our shopping districts,” said Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue BID in a statement to the Ridgewood Times. “They are an eyesore and create an unpleasant shopping environment.”

Comparable business improvement districts, such as the Greenpoint Avenue/Queens Boulevard Sunnyside Shines BID and the Steinway Street BID, have at the minimum five- to six-day corner basket pickup service between the dedicated basket truck and regular household pickup.

The Myrtle Avenue BID, along with the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC), is looking for similar service for not only the BID’s area, but for all major commercial retail business corridors within Community Board 5. Those areas include Myrtle Avenue between Fresh Pond Road and Cooper Avenue, Fresh Pond Road between Myrtle Avenue and Eliot Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue between 73rd Place and 80th Street, and Grand Avenue between Flushing Avenue and 74th Street.

Throughout the fiscal year 2016 budget process, the Myrtle Avenue BID and RLDC have testified regarding this need during different capital and expense budget hearings. They have also met with Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley on the issue.

“Recently we did receive some good news that Myrtle Avenue will receive extra service on Tuesday and Saturday and that corner baskets would be given special attention because on those days there is a dedicated half mobile litter patrol,” Renz said. “Therefore, while we are grateful for this response, we will need to push for dedicated basket routes.”


Civic fumes over a trashy situation in Woodhaven

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Frustrations aimed at the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) over their overnight enforcement policies came to a head during the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on May 16 at the Emanuel United Church of Christ.

The WRBA has repeatedly petitioned the DSNY to change its practice of issuing pricey overnight summonses to business owners along Jamaica Avenue for illegally dumped trash. In recent months, the WRBA has received numerous summonses over garbage found in front of the group’s headquarters, located at 84-20 Jamaica Ave.

“They ticket overnight because that’s when people bring their bags to the curb for pickup,” explained Gregory Mitchell of City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office. “Unfortunately, there’s an issue that if people dump garbage in front of somebody’s business, the property owner can get a ticket themselves.”

The WRBA held a recent closed-door meeting with board members, elected officials and DSNY supervisors. According to WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp, the DSNY officials explained that if they wanted a change in policy, they would need to petition their local city council member to change the regulations.

“When we were told by our city agencies to go to our City Council member because they’re not going to do anything about it, we realized this is a screwed up situation,” he said. “What are we supposed to do?”

Ulrich was considering changes in legislation back in October 2014 in the form of an “LS request” to investigate the feasibility of the proposed policy change.

“There’s really no way for us to legislate our way out of that problem,” Mitchell said. “We can change the law, but that’s not going to stop people from dumping garbage in the street.”

Blenkinsopp voiced his frustration over the situation to Mitchell. “It sounds like it took an awfully long time to find out we wouldn’t get any results from that process,” he said.

Assemblyman Mike Miller also voiced his displeasure over the situation.

“They don’t care,” said Miller, who participated in the aforementioned closed-door meeting with DSNY officials. “When we challenged them, they said, ‘That’s the way it is. This is the process. This is how we do it.’ It has to be changed.”

Miller explained that he has introduced legislation calling for a Citizen Review Board to deal with and discuss incidents such as wrongly issued summonses.

Mitchell proposed a follow-up meeting between WRBA board members and DSNY officials. He also mentioned that he would try to bring a DSNY supervisor to the next public WRBA meeting to address these concerns. In addition, he advised WRBA members to keep reporting incidents of illegal dumping to 311.

However, according to WRBA President Martin Colberg, the group once reported an illegally dumped mattress in front of their office, only to be hit with a pricey summons while sitting inside. Colberg said that he was considering installing security cameras outside WRBA’s Jamaica Avenue office to not only catch violators in the act, but to prove the group’s innocence to DSNY.

When asked if they could take their fight beyond City Council, Blenkinsopp explained that they have yet to receive a reply from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office regarding the matter.

“Back when he was public advocate, Bill De Blasio wrote a letter supporting a change in this law, but now that he’s mayor, he’s no longer responding to our reminders,” he said. “We can’t get the mayor to respond to his own previous policy decisions and to be consistent in his stance on this.”


Recycle electronics and more at Forest Park on April 26

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Just in time for spring cleaning, two local elected officials will be bringing their biannual recycling event to Forest Park later this month.

“Bringing this event to the district twice a year is so important to [Assemblyman Mike Miller] and me. The standard reasons apply – this is an opportunity to do something productive with old items normally thrown away and wasted. This year, though, is especially important given new DSNY regulations,” said state Senator Joseph Addabbo, who is providing the recycling opportunity with Miller.

Not only does the April 26 event give residents the ability to clean out their homes of unwanted junk for the season, but it will also take place just weeks after the start of new Department of Sanitation recycling regulations.

As of April 1, New York City residents can be fined $100 for placing electronics, such as TVs and computers, at the curb for disposal.

“Given new regulations regarding the recycling of electronics, this event presents an opportunity for individuals to discard many items that must now be taken to drop-off centers. Given the continued success of this event, Recycle Day shows the willingness of people to properly recycle when the opportunity exists,” Miller said.

Items accepted at the free Recycle Day event include clothing, coats, bedding, linens, paired shoes, scarves, belts, hats, handbags, computers, monitors, cellphones, servers, fax machines, televisions, PDAs, scanners, copiers, printers, batteries, laptops, cameras, power strips, wires, chargers, cable boxes, fans, air conditioners, telephones and VCR tapes. Appliances will not be accepted.

At last year’s recycling event, about 300 residents brought more than seven tons of electronics, about five tons of paper and two tons of Salvation Army household items, according to Addabbo’s office.

Recycling Day will be held on Sunday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the George Seuffert Sr. Bandshell parking lot in Forest Park, located on Forest Park Drive, one block west of Woodhaven Boulevard in Woodhaven.


DSNY to expand curbside food and yard waste recycling collection

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Get ready to see more brown compost bins in Queens starting the week of May 18, as more areas of Maspeth and Middle Village are added to the city’s organics waste pilot program.

The NYC Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) voluntary curbside food and yard waste recycling program is expanding into both neighborhoods and communities in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island later this spring.

The program, which began in May 2013, currently serves more than 100,000 households and 700 schools throughout all five boroughs and has collected more than 6,500 tons of material. This latest expansion will add approximately 35,000 more houses to the program.

“Organic materials make up about a third of our trash,” DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. “When you [recycle] your food and yard waste, you decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills and help create a greener and healthier New York City.”

All single-family homes and buildings with nine or fewer units will automatically be enrolled in the voluntary program. Residential buildings with 10 or more units may apply to participate. All eligible households will receive a starter kit, which includes an indoor kitchen container, an outdoor brown bin or a larger bin to share for a building with three to nine units and an instructional brochure.

To participate, residents should place their food scraps and soiled paper products, such as paper napkins and paper plates, into the kitchen container, then transfer the material into their outdoor bin for collection on their pickup day.

Examples of items that may be placed in the bin include food scraps such as fruits, vegetables, egg shells, pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, baked goods, meat and bones; flowers and house plants; and food-soiled paper such as paper towels, napkins and paper plates.

Some items that may not be placed into the bins include plastics of any kind, even if labeled biodegradable, liquids, foam items, animal waste, cigarettes and ashes, and medical waste.

The collected organic material is managed both locally and regionally, with some of the waste being turned into compost and being used locally by greening groups such as urban farmers, community gardeners and street tree stewards to rebuild the city’s soil.


Community demands improvements at Elmhurst LIRR overpass

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst residents and their elected officials are demanding that the city clean and maintain a pedestrian bridge above Long Island Rail Road tracks that they say is deteriorating, dirty and often dangerous.

Local elected officials and community leaders gathered earlier in December to tour the pedestrian bridge that connects two separate sections of 55th Avenue, one of which turns onto 85th Street and the other that becomes a dead end near Haspel Street.

The group toured the overpass with Long Island Rail Road and Sanitation officials to discuss the conditions and demand immediate improvements be made at the site.

According to Christian Cassagnol, district manager of Community Board 4, the problems most residents have voiced concerns about include graffiti, lack of sufficient lighting, safety overnight and dirty conditions.

Residents and members of CB 4’s environmental committee regularly gather to clean up the site, Cassagnol said, but there is only so much that could be done on a local level. He decided to contact Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office in the hopes of finding a better solution.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of the nonprofit Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together Inc. (COMET) Civic Association, added that some other issues include illegal dumping, weeds overtaking the site, and deteriorating and uneven steps.

Days before the Dec. 15 walk-through, the city’s Department of Sanitation showed up and did a cleanup.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who was part of the group that toured the overpass.  “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions firsthand.”

According to Stavisky, she and Dromm will continue to monitor the issue.

“Quality-of-life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” Dromm said.

Cassagnol plans to work with local leaders on trying to implement the Greenstreets program at the site, also known as the Green Infrastructure Program, which works to transform areas into green spaces.

“It’s an issue we are going to have to constantly monitor,” Daraio said.


Sanitation worker honored with Maspeth garage dedication

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/NYC Sanitation

A Department of Sanitation garage is being renamed to honor a veteran sanitation worker who was run over by a street sweeper in June.

On June 21, Steven Frosch, 43, was working on a street sweeper when another worker accidentally hit him with another street sweeper and pinned Frosch between the two large vehicles. Police found him unconscious and lying on the ground with severe body trauma.

Steve Frosch (Photo courtesy of the DSNY)

Steven Frosch (Photo courtesy of the DSNY)

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

To honor Frosch for his dedication to the department, his work garage, Queens West 5A in Maspeth, was named after him on Wednesday.

Frosch had been with the sanitation department for 15 years before the tragic accident took his life.


City issues season’s first snow alert

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/NYC Sanitation

Winter may still be more than a month away, but the city’s Department of Sanitation has already issued its first snow alert of the season.

The alert begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and the department has its salt spreaders ready to go in case of bad weather.

With temperatures hovering in the mid-30s, however, the forecast is only calling for the possibility of less than half an inch of snow overnight. Rain is mainly expected to fall, and taper off by Friday morning.


The Doe Fund to help clean more Astoria streets

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

More Astoria streets are getting cleaner thanks to the “men in blue.”

After hearing positive feedback from residents and business owners, The Doe Fund, which was initially brought to the western Queens neighborhood in April, will now expand street sweeping services to Steinway Street, Newtown Road, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Thursday.

“This will be a boon to residents and small business owners across Astoria. The ‘men in blue’ will continue to provide reinforcements and additional resources to help keep Astoria clean,” said Constantinides, who has allocated over $130,000 for street sweeping by The Doe Fund as part of the new city-wide initiative Clean NYC.

The nonprofit organization, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing, and Able transitional work program, was keeping the sidewalks clean and clearing the corner trash cans along 30th Avenue, Broadway and 31st Street.

“This program will increase the quality of life in Astoria, that’s the most important. Clean the street, find new jobs and community come together to be concerned about the quality of life,” said Ahmed Jamil, president of the Muslim American Society. “At the end of the day [before] you [saw] the garbage on the streets and you now don’t see it anymore.”

Although the Department of Sanitation collects trash from corner trash cans once per day in Astoria, the expansion of The Doe Fund helps alleviate the trash and littered streets which have previously caused problems in the neighborhood, such as sidewalk accessibility and shopping issues, according to Constantinides.

“The Doe Fund, combined with community street and graffiti clean-ups, will continue to make a difference in our district and across the city,” said Constantinides, who has also allocated $30,000 in funding for graffiti removal services. “Clean streets and buildings make our neighborhood more enjoyable and inviting—a win for everyone.”



Activist dishes dirt on Jamaica garbage

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



When Joe Moretti moved to Jamaica, Queens, back in November of 2010, New York City was about to experience one of the worst blizzards in its history. As more than a foot of snow covered the streets and sidewalks of his new neighborhood, Moretti was unable to see what really lay beneath. It wasn’t until the snow started melting months later when he saw that the piles of snow covered up piles of garbage.

“There was a vacant lot next to my building that always had a bunch of garbage all over the sidewalks around it and people would keep putting more. I started taking pictures and sending them to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and 3-1-1 because I wanted it cleaned up,” said Moretti, who has now been living in Jamaica for almost four years. “As I started walking all around Jamaica, I kept seeing more and more garbage, so more pictures and more reporting to the [DSNY].”

Moretti even took to YouTube, and posted music videos about it. While the videos garnered some media attention, Moretti wanted to get even more attention on the problem.

“I thought, ‘How can I crank this up some notches?’” Moretti said.

And that is when “Clean Up Jamaica Queens” was born. “Clean Up Jamaica Queens” is a blog Moretti started in 2013 to highlight the worst problems in the area: garbage strewn in to vacant lots, sidewalks and streets. He uses harsh language and writes in a tone that many might find offensive, but at the end of the day, he gets his point across.

“That has helped to bring attention to this major problem in Jamaica. Everyone is now talking about the garbage problem, whether they are offended by what I say or not. People are starting to do something. At the end of the day we all want the same thing: a cleaner, safer and better community, I just happen to do it in a loud and different way,” Moretti said.

He posts pictures that he takes around the neighborhood and writes a few choice words for some of Jamaica’s elected officials.

“Our leaders have been completely useless on this issue and have failed to do anything. They need to make sure that all the laws on the books such as littering, uncovered garbage cans and household garbage in public garbage cans are enforced,” he said. “People here feel they can do whatever they want because there are no consequences. It truly is the Wild Wild West of Queens.”

The blog is not all negative though. While its main focus is to bring attention to Jamaica’s garbage problem, Moretti also takes the time to talk about the good.

“The best thing [about Jamaica] would be the inside of the former Loews Valencia Wonder Theater (now the Tabernacle of Prayer Church) on Jamaica Avenue, which is completely intact and the only one in NYC that has been preserved. It is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see,” said Moretti. “The homes in the Addesleigh Park section of Jamaica are also gorgeous. At one time many of the jazz greats lived there back in the days. People think Jamaica is all crap, but there are some beautiful homes here and especially in that section.”

In recent months, there have been plans to revitalize and beautify Jamaica. Earlier this month, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz revealed plans to install dozens of light posts along Jamaica Avenue to encourage nightlife. The Sutphin Boulevard Improvement District plans to replace awnings in front of businesses, and a new department store on Jamaica Avenue is in the works. All of these changes are great, Moretti said, but pointless if the trash issue is not handled first.

“If you are not going to clean up the area and take care of the garbage problem, all those things are just the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. I mean, what good does it do to put new signs or awnings up, when the community is filled with garbage?

How about cleaning it up first?” Moretti said.

As long as he continues to live in Jamaica, Moretti said he will continue to post on his blog and continue to shine light on the problems.

“There is this bizarre part of me that gets off in taking on the powers to be here in Jamaica. It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Moretti. “Will it ever be what it once was? Probably not. But it can be great in a different way.”



Assemblyman Braunstein to introduce law to ban fake clothing drop-off bins

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein is planning to introduce legislation to clean up clothing drop-off bins of businesses that masquerade as nonprofit organizations.

Under the bill, clothing bins that are not operated by organizations recognized as proper nonprofits by the IRS will be banned and the city will be able to remove the bins immediately. First-time offenders will be fined $250, and then $500 for every additional one during a calendar year.

Recently, there has been an explosion in bins all over the city, according to published reports. Bin owners collect donated clothes and sell them to thrift stores, using what should be donations for income, the assemblyman said.

“Enough is enough. It is time we remove these bins from our streets and ensure that these fake charities no longer benefit from their deceptive actions,” Braunstein said.

Currently, all clothing bins are banned in the city on public property. The Department of Sanitation places notices on the bins, giving operators 30 days to remove them. But organizations simply remove the notices and move the bins to other locations, the assemblyman and local leaders said.

“But if you’re parked illegally [the city] has no problem towing your car that day,” said Devon O’Connor, president of the Welcome to Whitestone Civic Association.

Besides hiding under the false pretense of a nonprofit company, residents have complained that the bins attract graffiti and are eyesores in the community.

Community Board 11, which represents Bayside, Douglaston and Oakland Gardens, has received numerous complaints of nearly a dozen bins around the community, which range in colors from a stark pink to black.

“It’s just a scheme for some crooked people to make money and it’s a horror story,” said Andy Rothman, a Bayside resident. “They shouldn’t be anywhere in New York City or New York State.”

Calls to Our Neighborhood Recycling, which owns a few bins in Bayside, were not returned.