Tag Archives: Department of Sanitation

Organics collection service extending to Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Department of Sanitation’s organics collection program is branching out to Queens.

Starting in April, residents in Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale will be able to participate in the program, which targets food scraps, food-spoiled paper and yard waste, such as leaves, to recycle. The program is already underway in parts of the other four boroughs.

The organics collection program is part of the city’s plan to expand recycling. The city spent more than $85 million exporting organics to landfills last year, and hopes that an expanded recycling program will lower that cost.

“If we can collect organics, we can avoid landfills disposal fees and convert the organic material into compost, an organic fertilizer, or clean renewable energy,” said Ron Gonen, deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability. “It’s a win for taxpayers, it’s a win for the environment and it’s a win for local jobs.”

The containers are brown and come in a small kitchen size and a bigger curbside size as well. The program is volunteer-based, but the bins will be delivered to all buildings with nine or fewer residential units.

The Department of Sanitation asks that residents put only food-soiled waste, food scraps and yard waste in the bins. This means no metal, glass, plastics, cartons, animal waste, foam items, clothing or electronics are allowed in the organics bins.

People participating in the program do not need to line their organic trash bins, but if they want they can line them with newspaper, paper bags, cardboard, clear plastic liners or compostable liners approved by the Department of Sanitation.

The organic trash collected from Queens will be transferred to a composting facility upstate, according to a Sanitation Department representative.

For more information on the organics recycling collection program, visit www.nyc.gov/organics.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Hercules flexing his muscles in first storm of 2014


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated Friday, January 3, 7:05 a.m.

The year is starting out with a shot of nasty weather that is predicted to bring near-blizzard conditions to the city.

Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency Thursday afternoon to prepare officials for winter storm Hercules, which is forecasted to bring five to nine inches of snow to the city.

“To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a statewide state of emergency, so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible,” he said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning until 1 p.m. Friday.

Cuomo also announced the Long Island Expressway will be closed from midnight to 8 a.m. on Friday from the Queens/Nassau County border and east. The Northern State Parkway and all MTA bridges and tunnels will remain open.

“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors,” he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized the “forecast could change at any moment.”

“That’s why it’s so important for everyone to pay close attention to updates in the coming hours,” he said at his administration’s first press conference Thursday evening.

Alternate side parking has been suspended Friday to facilitate with snow removal, but payment at parking meters remains in effect.

All express subway service will run local for the start of the morning rush hour, until all stored trains are moved from the express tracks. Riders should expect delays on city buses due to the weather. The Long Island Rail Road is operating on a weekend schedule effective 12:01 a.m. Friday. The Metro-North is running on a reduced schedule after 8  p.m. Thursday, and a Saturday schedule on Friday. To see any additional MTA service changes, click here.

The weather is also affecting air travel. All flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) were suspended as of about 6:12 a.m., but the airport will remain open. Flights could resume in a couple of hours, said the FAA. Thousands of flights have reportedly been canceled across the country Friday, and travelers are urged to check with their carriers before heading to the airport.

City officials have no plan to close specific streets yet, but will monitor that need as the storm progresses, de Blasio said.

The City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has put 2,300 workers on 12-hour shifts, and 1,700 trucks with snow plows will be deployed once two inches of snow hit the ground. To track the progress of DSNY clearing operations throughout the five boroughs, click here.

Kew Gardens and South Ozone Park had accumulated more than 5 inches of snow as of 4 a.m., according to NWS.

Senior centers throughout the city will be closed through Friday, and de Blasio urged city residents to keep a close eye on the homeless population.

Joe Bruno, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) commissioner, said the NYPD, FDNY, EMS and other emergency officials will “work around the clock until this is over.”

OEM has issued a hazardous travel advisory for Friday, and is warning motorists to drive slowly, monitor weather and traffic, use major streets or highways, and have the name and number of at least one local towing service.

Temperatures will be blustery, with a high Friday of 17 and low around 8. Wind chill, however, could make the weather feel as cold as 10 below zero, de Blasio said.

Borough residents hit grocery stores and gas stations Thursday afternoon to prepare for the impending storm. People were piling into the Waldbaums on Francis Lewis Boulevard just “picking up extras,” but said “the crazies” would be sure to clear the shelves in the hours to come.

“I’m getting extras just in case,” said Anita Oberwiler, who anticipated frantic shoppers to come rushing through as the afternoon pressed on.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens co-op launches e-cycling program


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

North Shore Towers (NST) residents can now safely dispose of old and burnt-out electronics without leaving the building.

The new recycling program, e-cycling, is intended to easily and conveniently recycle electronics, which must be handled separately from traditional recycling.

The program, which was created through a public-private partnership between the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), made its first collection at NST, a Floral Park co-op.

“Everybody has something they want to get rid of,” said NST Board President Bob Ricken. “We’ve already sent several bins to be recycled. We’re filling them up like crazy.”

Buildings with at least 10 units can receive on-site pickup of stored electronic devices. Acceptable electronics include televisions, computers, printers, cell phones, video game consoles and hard drives. Electronic shredders permanently erase all of the devices’ data.

“It’s the stuff you really [have] to make sure is handled properly,” said Ron Gonen, DSNY deputy commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability. “The world is changing. A lot of what we do now is electronic, and that means our waste stream is changing significantly.” There are currently 51 sites citywide enrolled in the free e-cycling program.

“We’re sticking to our mission to be a greener facility,” said board member Mario Carmiciano. “We made a commitment a few years ago to start going as green as we can.”

Ricken credited new board member Maria Termini-Miller, a DSNY Deputy Commissioner, for getting NST to be a part of the program.

For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/ecycle.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Vallone pushes ‘Adopt-A-Basket’ program in Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Peter Vallone Jr.’s campaign

A little-known citywide trash initiative could clean up Queens streets if more of the borough knew about it, a local lawmaker said.

The city’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Basket” program gives free garbage cans and bags to residents and store owners who agree to monitor the outdoor receptacles and change liners when the basket is three-quarters full.

The Department of Sanitation initiative, which began in the early 1980s, aims to reduce litter caused by overflowing trash cans.

But of the city’s 1,300 participants, fewer than 20 percent are in Queens, a sanitation spokesperson said.

“What’s the point of a program if no one knows it exists and barely anyone is participating?” said Councilmember and Borough President candidate Peter Vallone Jr. “I want to make sure Queens takes advantage of the program that exists and that we expand on that.”

If elected to head the borough, Vallone said he would fund and install placards on adopted baskets that show the name of the participating business.

The Department of Sanitation currently gives participants a certificate, but the councilmember said the award is usually hung indoors, out of sight.

The more visible plaques would give due credit to adoptees and encourage participation “in what could be a very successful program,” Vallone said.

“Sometimes, the proverbial carrot helps,” he said.

Flushing business owner James Chen said waste from full cans on Prince Street often spills out onto the streets. The refuse, he said, finds its way under a tree outside his printing company daily.

“We have to clean that every single day,” Chen said. “It’s horrible. We can’t do anything about it because there are not enough garbage cans around. People just dump whatever they want to.”

New York City law requires property owners to keep their sidewalks clean. Fines for failure to sweep sidewalks doubled to $100 in 2003.

The “Adopt-A-Basket” initiative has been pushed in the past by State Senator Marty Golden in Brooklyn and Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito in Manhattan.

Those interested can call the city’s Citizen Service Center at 3-1-1.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Hunters Point residents split on alternate side parking


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Hunters Point residents are taking sides when it comes to a proposal for alternate side parking.

At a Community Board 2 meeting in January, residents became aware of the Department of Sanitation’s (DOS) proposition for alternate side street parking west of Jackson Avenue between 45th and Borden Avenues due to requests made by some residents in fall 2011.

As part of the proposal, the streets would be swept twice a week, the south and east sides on Wednesdays and the north and west sides on Thursdays. Streets in the area south of 47th Road would be cleaned from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and streets to the north would be cleaned between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Blocks with meters would be cleaned in half-hour segments between 7:30 and 9 a.m.

Dr. Moitri Savard, Community Board 2 member and a local family doctor, has been leading the battle for cleaner streets for about two years and is taking matters into her own hands.

“We just want our streets to be cleaner,” said Savard, who has now started the LIC – Environmental Community Organization (LIC-ECO) to clean the streets as they wait for the changes.

But other residents are worried about the vehicle congestion as cars do the “double parking dance,” switching in and out of spaces.

Longtime resident Diane Hendry believes the community should be accountable for litter and more trash baskets should be added. Hendry also suggests residents get parking permits, as well as resident short- and long-term parking to alleviate congestion.

According to spokesperson Kathy Dawkins, the DOS is still waiting for recommendations from the Community Board after its next public hearing.

“The Department of Sanitation prepared the plan in response to requests by the Community Board and the local councilmember who sense the changing nature of the area,” said Dawkins.

The LIC-ECO group is planning “LIC Cleanup!” for Saturday, May 11 to clean 48th Avenue between 5th Street and Vernon Boulevard.

Community Board 2 did not respond to calls for comment.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

First Commuter Composter drop-off site comes to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Queens residents have a chance to build a greener community one apple core at a time.

The NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program, hosted by Build It Green! NYC (BIG!), sets up a weekly tent outside the Broadway N and Q train in Astoria on Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The tent houses the first Commuter Composter drop-off site for residents looking to help make a difference with their waste.

“Before they even get on the subway on their commute to work, they’ve given back,” said BIG compost project manager Louise Bruce.

The items gathered at the site will create a high quality natural compost that can be used by local parks, gardens or even home farms.

Whether they pick up brochures to find out more about the program or bring some scraps of food to drop-off, organizers have seen a positive reactions from residents.

“Most people are turning on to the idea and are really interested and looking for ways to participate and also learn,” said project coordinator Christopher Bivens as he handled the site Tuesday morning.

As of April 2012, the Department of Sanitation launched the program in order to provide residents with a range of opportunities to drop-off their food scraps and ensure they would be compost locally.

Along with the commuter drop-off, the program also runs different sites throughout western Queens, including the Steinway and Sunnyside branches of the Queens Public Library.

“People that are recycling are rewarded through more greening and beautification in their neighborhood,” Bruce said.

The drop-off sites accept frozen fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, dry grains, dead plants, corn cobs, food-soiled paper towels and napkins, newspaper, grass clippings, egg shells and many other items, excluding dairy and meat.

“I’m so inspired by all of them because they devote a space in their kitchen to save the food,” Bruce said.
The program hopes to expand the Commuter Composting pilot to other sites and also continue their growth of other drop-off locations around Queens.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Doe Fund cleans up Broad Channel


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Broad Channel is seeing blue.

Nine workers from the Doe Fund, dubbed “the men in blue,” will help clean up a two-mile stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, as the island still continues to recover nearly four months after Sandy hit.

The cleanup effort, which officially began on Friday, February 15, will run from the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the American Legion Post 1404.

The Doe Fund gives homeless men and women a second chance by providing jobs and starting a new life. Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways have been other areas the Doe Fund has cleaned up in wake of the storm. The men will pick up the roadside trash and haul it on to Department of Sanitation trucks.

“The garbage and the litter and the debris are still here,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “People are going to be so impressed. They’re [the workers] going to do a top-notch job.”

Ulrich said he reached out to Doe Fund chair George McDonald two weeks ago to help clean up Broad Channel’s main thoroughfare, which is still littered with debris. Flanked by Doe Fund members and representatives from the National Park Service and the Department of Sanitation, Ulrich said the “Men in Blue” would be on Cross Bay Boulevard, picking up trash until the job is done. The goal, he added, is to have Cross Bay back to its pre-storm look, if not better.

Cross Bay Boulevard is the first view of the Rockaways visitors get and the road needed to keep that vista positive, Ulrich said.

The relationship between the Doe Fund and south Queens goes back to long before the storm, according to Community Board 14 chair Dolores Orr. The organization helps clean up Beach 116th street, an economic hub in Rockaway, every spring, Orr said.

“It’s equally important for the residents trying to recover themselves,” Orr said.

McDonald, who’s also running as a Republican for mayor, said the men and women of the organization were hard workers and dedicated to getting their life back on track.

“It’s on behalf of all the citizens of New York that we come here and help clean up,” McDonald said. “We are thrilled to be able to give back. I know this partnership is going to do great things for this community and I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

LIC residents blame parking problems on Manhattanites


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Long Island City dwellers have circled the block for the last time.

Residents of the rapidly-developing district, sick of searching for scarce parking, blame Manhattanites for using the neighborhood with lax street-side laws as their personal parking lot.

“It’s a convenient place for those living or working in Manhattan to leave their cars for the day or weeks,” said Peter Johnson, a Long Island City resident who claimed the problem has persisted for years.

One Manhattanite who works for Citicorp left her car parked at the edge of Johnson’s house for several months. She told him she occasionally stopped by during her lunch break just to turn the car on to recharge the battery.

“[She had] no qualms about taking the parking that should be for residents,” said Johnson.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), street storage of vehicles is prohibited. On streets that are without regulations for alternate-side parking, including residential neighborhoods, cars are not allowed to remain in the same spot for seven consecutive days.

Johnson suggested resident parking stickers as a possible fix to the parking problem. The DOT said residential permits are not under consideration as the agency does not have the authority or funding to implement a system.

“We do know that people are leaving their cars on the streets for long period of time,” said Community Board 2 Chair Joe Conley.

In May of 2012, board members conducted an impromptu experiment, scrawling dates and times on cars in dust along 47th Avenue and 48th Avenue to track their movement. Cars didn’t move for several weeks.

As part of a separate cleanliness initiative, Community Board 2 reached out to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) in hopes of bringing street cleaning to the neighborhood. Conley believes the parking regulations necessary for street cleaning will alleviate some traffic tension.

“Throughout the rest of the district we have alternate side parking so cars have to move,” said Conley. “In Hunters Point we don’t have restrictions so cars can stay there forever.”

Conley also believes the area’s booming population and residential upswing has attributed to parking woes. The formerly industrial neighborhood, which mainly saw circulation increase during week days, is now subject to seven straight days of traffic. Conley added that while LIC has always suffered from a serious parking shortage, turnover of parking is essential to residents and businesses in the neighborhood.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

Carl Berner, Middle Village civic leader, dies days before 111th birthday


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Robert Holden

Carl Berner was someone Middle Village residents affectionately remember as a civic leader, a Mr. Fix-It, and someone who put his community before himself.

Berner died Monday, January 7 at 110 years old. He was born on January 27, 1902, and just missed his 111th birthday.

“If you needed something, anything, with plumbing or even your sink, he knew how to solve it,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, on his longtime friend.

In 1938, Berner helped to establish a neighborhood civic group, which later grew into the Juniper Park Civic Association.

The supercentenarian was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1928. He found himself in New York looking for work.

He learned English, but was still slightly discriminated against because of his German accent. After a grueling search, he found work and became the first night manager at the Chrysler Building. Years passed and he held other odd jobs, but when the Depression hit, he opened his own toy company. The company thrived, and some of his products became collectors’ items.

Holden said that Berner was good with his hands, and this helped not only his business, but also his neighbors. In 1938, he and his wife moved to Middle Village.

“[Berner] said to me, ‘I take pride in my neighborhood,’” said Holden.

Decades passed, and Berner grew older, but it seemed that something as trivial as age could not stop him from doing his day-to-day activities.

“I would see this elderly man, climbing a ladder and getting onto the roof,” said Holden. Berner would frequently walk around the neighborhood, and Holden said that even at 105 years old, he was up on step ladders fixing things. He also used his walks to pick up trash that he found along the roads.

“I just said, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing,’” said Holden.

Vincent Arcuri, chair of Community Board 5, said Berner was “a leader in community activism; a model for children and adults.”

He received several awards for his volunteer work in the community, including the “Partner in a Cleaner New York Certificate of Appreciation” from the mayor and the Department of Sanitation.

In his home, Berner lived “a simple life,” with oatmeal every morning and very minimal technology.

Holden said that he only had a television, a rotary phone, and “shunned all of the modern stuff.”

“He lived like a 19th century person,” laughed Holden. “He never wanted to go to the doctor, he never took medication. When he was 105 he would walk two miles a day.”

However, Holden said that during the last year of his life, Berner started to “slow down,” and an attendant moved into his home. After his passing, there was no ceremony and he was instead cremated, according to his wishes.

Carl Berner on top of the Chrysler Building when was younger. 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Christmas tree collection to begin today


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The presents have been opened, the stockings unstuffed and the time is coming to take down the decorations and dispose of your Christmas tree.

Beginning Wednesday, January 2, the Department of Sanitation will collect the Christmas trees that have been placed curbside.  All trees should be removed of tinsel, lights, ornaments and stands. The program will run through Saturday, January 12.

The trees must not be placed into plastic bags.

The trees will be chipped and turned into compost and spread throughout the city in parks, ball fields and community gardens. More than 140,000 are “tree-cycled” each year.

“The department is very pleased to offer this special recycling service.  Providing collection and recycling options for residents is environmentally valuable and benefits our neighborhoods,” said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

The city’s Parks & Recreation Department will also hold a Mulchfest on Saturday, January 12 and Sunday, January 13. Residents can bring their trees to one of the 80 designated locations around the city — 11 in Queens — for mulching. New Yorkers who drop their tree off at the event will also be able to pick up free mulch.

For more information on Christmas tree collection and recycling and/or Mulchfest 2013, visit www.nyc.gov/sanitation, www.nycgovparks.org or call 3-1-1.

Here is a list of Queens Mulchfest locations:

Astoria Park* (19th Street & Hoyt Avenue)

Brookville Park* (Brookville Boulevard between 144th Avenue & Caney Road)

Cunningham Park* (Visitor Parking Lot & 196th Street)

Forest Park Bandshell* (Forest Park Drive, west of Woodhaven Boulevard)

Juniper Valley Park* (80th Street between Juniper Boulevards North & South)

Kissena Park (164th Street at Underhill Avenue)

Land Restoration Project Compound* (Queens Plaza South & 10th Street)

Oakland Gardens/Playground 203* (Springfield Boulevard at 56th Avenue)

Rockaway Beach (Shore Front Parkway & Beach 94th Street)

Roy Wilkins Park (Park entrance at Merrick and Foch Boulevards)

Travers Park* (78th Street at 34th Avenue)

* Free mulch will be provided

Richmond Hill program will alleviate litter


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

IMAG0042w

City officials, local merchants and the community are coming together in Richmond Hill to kick-start a program set to beautify the streets.

“We can only do so much, [residents] can only do so much, but together we can do a lot more,” said Iggy Terranova of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DOS).

Councilmember Ruben Wills has teamed up with the DOS, the Wildcat Service Corporation and local business owners to create a commercial corridor cleanup program in response to the illegal dumping and chronic littering around the area.

“Our merchants are stepping up and our community is coming together for advocacy,” said Wills at a press conference on Friday, November 30.

Through the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Wills’ office was able to secure the funds necessary to create such a program, which allowed the DOS to increase its pickups to three days a week, and the Wildcat Service Corporation to pick up along the commercial corridor on another two.

The Wildcat Corporation is a nonprofit organization that provides resources for New Yorkers to become economically independent, according to their website. They have joined the cleanup effort, organizing representatives to assist in litter clearing.

“Problem areas,” such as those along Liberty Avenue and Hutch Boulevard, have been made priorities.

“It’s a citywide problem,” said Terranova. “Litter is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere unless people take responsibility for it.”

The DOS recommends simple fixes to the litter problem: keep your own area clean, regularly sweep the sidewalk, have your own sanitation receptacle and turn in an illegal dumper.

If the litter is not eliminated around a storefront, owners risk a $100 fine for the mess. This is also applicable to those caught improperly disposing of their trash.

The program also includes the DOS’s “Adopt-a-Basket Program,” in which any person, group, store operator or building manager actually claims a sanitation receptacle and is responsible for monitoring its usage. When the basket is three-quarters full, the adopter will be expected to remove the trash in a bag and leave it next to the basket for the DOS to service. A new liner will be placed in the basket as needed.

Councilmember Letitia James, Sanitation Committee chair, believes that the relationships being made between city and local organizations with local merchants should be valued going forward.

“At a time when everyone is focusing on Sandy recovery and there’s a deficit in the city budget, we need to look towards public-private partnerships,” she said.

Neighbors upset over school garbage


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Residents in Bell Park Gardens are raising a stink about a school sidewalk across the street that they say has grown to be a rancid repository for piles of garbage.

“It stinks like a garbage room and it’s an eyesore,” said a neighboring resident who wished to remain anonymous. “We didn’t buy a very expensive co-op to look at this and be part of this.”

Some of the Bayside co-op owners who live across the street from P.S. 46 said they’ve been dealing with the repulsive refuse problem for four years. Dozens of garbage bags — full of milk cartons, leftover lunch and paper artwork — sit for hours on the sidewalk, posing as an attraction for local wildlife and an invitation for litter, they said.

“Sometimes it’s out for days,” said resident Trish M., who did not want to give her last name. “It’s not that much of a bother to me, but there is a lot of garbage.”

Kathy Dawkins, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Sanitation, said the Alley Pond School is on the agency’s summer school route and receives seven garbage, four paper, and three metal, glass and plastic collections a week.

The school custodians are under the same sanitation requirements as local homeowners, Dawkins said, which means they must place receptacles out on the sidewalk by the curb no earlier than 5 p.m. the day before their scheduled collection and no earlier than 4 p.m. from October 1 to April 1.

But co-op shareholders said the remaining debris and slimy residue are left sitting on the sidewalk overnight until at least 7 a.m. when they said school custodians come out to sweep. By then, they said another load of trash is put out for the next pickup cycle and remnants of the rubbish find its way to neighboring properties.

“The garbage is put out again almost as quickly as Sanitation collects it,” Dawkins said. “The department will work with the custodians on this and monitor this location.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the area is “cleaned as soon as possible.”

Bell Park Gardens management and school custodians declined to comment.

Meanwhile, neighbor John Chorzepa said the tussle over trash was trivial.

“I didn’t realize garbage was such a problem. Everybody has garbage. It’s a school – they have to,” he said.

Jamaica’s trashy situation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Joe Moretti

Not long after Joe Moretti moved into his Jamaica apartment nearly two years ago he realized there was a problem.

The former Long Island City resident noticed his new neighborhood had a trash crisis, the result of illegal dumping in the LIRR tunnel on 170th Street as well as excessive littering in private lots, streets, sidewalks and even in St. Albans Memorial Park.

“This is not a way for a community to be,” Moretti said. “I had never seen anything like this. The more I walked around in Jamaica, the more I would see garbage. This had to be addressed.”

Moretti, a self-proclaimed clean-freak, began to contact the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), media outlets, and various community leaders at least once or twice a week for what he called “an embarrassment.”

As a result of his inquiries, many areas around his neighborhood have been cleaned repeatedly. However, the trash is reappearing. So Moretti is planning to start a grassroots organization with other locals that share his passion to combat the problem.

“It’s becoming too much for one person to do,” he said. “One voice is fine, but it’s better and more powerful if there are more behind it.”

According to Moretti, the problem is threefold. It starts with people who litter instead of throwing garbage in trash cans. Property owners are also to blame, he said, because many do not clean their lots and sidewalks. Finally, he said community leaders aren’t following up with the issue.

“The problem is going to be addressed,” said Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12.

Reddick said CB12 has been asking business and land owners to clean their lots, the sidewalks and 18 inches from the curb into the street.

“If someone dumps a black bag in front of your door and you don’t see who did it, it becomes your job to remove it,” Reddick said. “You can’t wait for collection day.”

Reddick has also urged business owners to use the DSNY’s Adopt-A-Basket program, by which they can monitor chained litter baskets provided and collected by the city agency to prevent overflow.

Moretti and public officials agree that the DSNY is not to blame, because the agency has cleaned lots and picked up trash when contacted, and even posted violations and warnings to property owners that have neglected cleaning practices.

Moretti’s area in Jamaica has two scheduled weekly pickups, and residents should call 3-1-1 for any complaints of dumping or trash in private lots, said a DSNY spokesperson.

“Anything behind a fence is private property,” said Keith Mellis, of the DSNY. “We can’t just go in there and clean it.”

He added dumping, which has fines up to $20,000, is a hard issue to deal with because “it takes place in the wee hours of the morning.”

Councilmember Leroy Comrie said the garbage problem won’t go away in the near future if the community mindset and habits stay the same. It’s the reason he is willing to back Moretti’s grassroots organization.

“The only way we can do that [cleanup] is have a real campaign to get people a real respect for their neighborhood,” Comrie said.

Homeowners say trash rule is rubbish


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Homeowners and one state legislator in northeast Queens are trashing the city’s sanitation department over fines and enforcement rules they say are rubbish.

“This is a money-making thing. They want to make some money, so they make these laws that no one knows about — and they get you,” said Whitestone resident Raymond Jansson. “That’s all it is. It wasn’t to protect the neighborhood or anything.”

Jansson, 59, said he was issued a $100 fine by the city’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) on December 8 of last year when he took out his garbage 45 minutes before the allotted time of removal. He said he put his trash cans out on the sidewalk at 3:15 p.m. and was slapped with a ticket 12 minutes later. Enforcement agents told Jansson his receptacles were also blocking the sidewalk — a claim the homeowner heavily disputed but lost.

“I was on the way to pick up my daughter. I just never thought about it. I’m almost 60 years old. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. That was my job. I’d come home from school and I’d put the garbage out,” Jansson said.

“Nobody on the block knew [of the rule],” he continued. “They never heard of it.”

Flushing resident JoAnn Kelly was also given a $100 ticket last September by DSNY enforcement agents, when her ailing 68-year-old husband — who has since passed away from lung, brain and spine cancer — put out the household trash too early.

Kelly, 65, said she’s waiting for her fourth appeal after contesting the ticket and being told by a judge each time she didn’t “present a meritorious defense.” She said the trash could only be put out when someone else was around to help.

“I don’t know what could have been a more meritorious defense. A person was dying,” Kelly said. “I’m really upset because my husband always considered himself a law-abiding citizen. He passed away feeling like he almost committed a crime. They could have given him a warning. We’ve been living in this home for 40 years and never had a situation like this before. It just seems ludicrous to give someone a $100 fine.”

According to the DSNY’s rules and regulations, residential units may place receptacles out for collection on the sidewalk, right by the curb, no earlier than 5 p.m. the day before their scheduled collection and no earlier than 4 p.m. from October 1 to April 1. Receptacles must also be removed from their collection place by 9 p.m. on collection day. If collection occurs after 4 p.m., receptacles must be removed by 9 a.m. the next day. Failure to comply could result in a $100 to $300 fine.

State Senator Tony Avella blasted the DSNY, saying the policy was not established under the necessary rulemaking procedures established in the City Administrative Procedure Act (CAPA), which he said requires public comment on proposed rules.

“Unfortunately, Ms. Kelly is not the only one affected by the issuance of significant fines based on this void policy,” Avella said. “[DSNY] has ignored all of CAPA’s requirements in establishing and implementing this policy, resulting in the issuance of significant fines against many alleged violators.”

According to Chief Keith Mellis, spokesperson for the DSNY, the statutory mandate, as per the New York City Administrative Code, goes back many decades and states that “refuse must be stored in the building and not placed out until the time for removal by the department.”

“Using common sense and as a courtesy to New Yorkers, the Department has exercised discretion in enforcing the law and [has] not required citizens to place their refuse out beginning at 6 a.m. which is the time when department collection generally begins,” Mellis said. “Instead, the Department has reasonably allowed residents plenty of time to place out their refuse in the late afternoon and evening on the day before scheduled collection. In so doing, the Department is reasonably enforcing the statute which is critical to protecting public health.”

Homeowners unsure of their collection schedules can visit www.nyc.gov/dsny.

Vallone’s trash talk


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. is telling illegal garbage dumpers where they can stick their trash.

Vallone, who observed personal garbage in a public receptacle outside his office, is outraged that some citizens view the city as their private dumping ground.

“I was walking into my office in the rain and I noticed one of the garbage cans outside was stuffed up with personal garbage. I passed it and got angry,” said Vallone. “This is something a lot of people are not aware of, but they see these overflowing garbage cans and a lot of times they assume it’s because they haven’t been emptied. But a lot of times it’s because pigs think they can dump their garbage in public property.”

Vallone proceeded to remove the refuse and inspect it in search of the “swine’s” identity. He says he found a magazine with a name and address, which he has passed on to the Department of Sanitation for enforcement.

“I have your last name and address. Expect a visit from Sanitation to your pigsty,” Vallone posted on his Facebook page on January 17.

Beyond singular civilians, Vallone also believes businesses are dumping their trash in public cans for financial benefits.

“Businesses try to avoid paying for a private trash removal company by emptying into public dumpsters,” said the councilmember. “Private people who do it are either too lazy or too stupid to figure out pick up days. But either way it causes our neighborhood to look dirty.”

According to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), 793 fines were issued for illegal dumping of residential garbage in street bins in Queens in 2011 – down from 887 violations in 2010. Fines increased by roughly 47 percent citywide, however, from 2,512 in 2010 to 3,681 in 2011.

DSNY spokesperson Kathy Dawkins says the city is doing whatever it can to enforce what is considered a “well-known law.”

“It is important to know that people are not supposed to put their household trash in the litter baskets,” Dawkins said. “We are responding to commercial areas where merchants are concerned about this problem, as well as to complaints by politicians.”

To discourage dumpers, Vallone said he has introduced legislation that would increase the fine for a first offense from $100 to $200.

According to the councilmember, the key to cutting down the dumping is notifying the city by registering complaints with 3-1-1.

“Enforcement is complaint driven,” said Vallone. “Sanitation does not have the resources to investigate every garbage can. We have to do a better job of letting them know where this is a problem.”