Tag Archives: garbage

Instagram account focuses on trash problem in Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Astoria Trash

One Astoria resident is getting a snapshot of what some have called an ongoing problem in the neighborhood.

What started first as a joke in July after the Astorian, who wishes to remain anonymous, noticed she had too many photos of trash on her phone has now become an Instagram account with 111 followers featuring “interesting trash” found on the streets of the western Queens neighborhood.

“Once you start looking for trash in this neighborhood you find a lot,” she said. “It’s not meant to be down on Astoria, it’s just a fun way to show there is a problem.”

The Instagram account called “astoriatrash” includes photos taken by the Astoria local and also submissions from neighbors and other residents, making it what she calls “a community effort.”

Calling herself the “Gossip Girl of trash,” she fills each post on the account with fun captions and hashtags. She said she also likes to try to make some posts holiday themed.

She added that she has become more selective with the photos she posts, trying to find “interesting” or “beautiful” trash.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, who since taking office in January has made keeping Astoria clean a top priority, said he is happy to see a community member spreading awareness of the issue in the neighborhood.

The councilman has allocated over $170,000 in discretionary funding to bring The Doe Fund to Astoria, allocated $30,000 for graffiti removal along business thoroughfares and participated in numerous park clean-ups across Astoria.

“I applaud Astoria residents who care about their community and about how our neighborhood looks. As part of our ongoing public awareness campaign to Keep Astoria Clean, we have encouraged participation from residents,” Constantinides said. “It is heartening to see community members like @astoriatrash play a role in spreading this awareness. I hope more people will be encouraged to help Keep Astoria Clean.”

The Astoria local behind the account, who also started a Twitter account to drive attention to the Instagram, said that some of the problems include a scarcity of trash cans in the neighborhood and a lot of people just throwing trash on the ground.

Although it would be bittersweet to no longer have trash to include on the Instagram, she hopes the problem will be solved.

“As long as there is trash in Astoria, I’ll keep posting,” she said. “But I hope the trash problem is fixed in the community.”

For photos, visit instagram.com/astoriatrash or @astoriatrash on Twitter.

To send photos and tips email realastoriatrash@gmail.com.

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Pol, residents call on Jackson Heights Starbucks to clean up its garbage


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 11:07 a.m. 

A group of Jackson Heights residents are telling one Starbucks shop that enough is enough.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with residents in front of the Starbucks located on 78-25 37th Ave. Friday to call attention to the growing issue of garbage being dumped on the residential block of 79th Street instead of in front of the coffee shop.

“It’s really kind of sad that we have to be out here because we are trying to work so hard with Starbucks to get them to be responsible but yet they remain irresponsible and they don’t want to help the neighborhood,” said Dromm. “They’ve become bad neighbors and they refuse to cooperate.”

The councilmember, who lives on 78th Street, said he has attempted to reach out to the manager of the location and the Starbucks district office but has not heard back from them.

For the past year and a half, Dromm’s office has received numerous complaints from 79th Street residents about the garbage, which at times become mountainous piles and are left out on the curb for more than a day.


Photo Courtesy Office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

“This is a real quality of life issue especially for those of us whose apartments face 79th Street where we are subject to loud garbage pickups in the middle of the night, food and coffee grinds that are strewn along the sidewalk and street and never cleaned up,” said resident Susan Latham. “It’s disgusting.”

The residents have also tried calling 3-1-1, but say no fines have been issued because Starbucks leaves the garbage close to 50 feet away from its location, making it hard to find.

“Starbucks has been littering heavily on 79th Street for several years. This is against the law,” said resident Elisa Carlucci, who lives on 79th Street. “City agencies, such as the Business Integrity Commission and 3-1-1, although acting in good faith, have been unable to have any impact because they’re searching the wrong area – in front of the business’ storefront.”

Dromm has also sent a letter to the Starbucks district office, saying the store is breaking a city administrative code that requires businesses to place their garbage on the curb at certain designated times.

“We’re going to ask people, don’t patronize Starbucks until they work with the neighborhood,” Dromm said. “Enough is enough, we’ve had it.”

Starbucks will be looking into this case and make sure all standards are being met, according to company spokesperson Laurel Harper.

“Being a good neighbor is really important to Starbucks, and we have stringent cleanliness standards in place for our stores and for the proper disposal of garbage,” Harper said. “We’re looking into this and making sure our standards are being followed, and look forward to working with our neighbors to address their concerns.”

 

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Pol, businesses battle bulging baskets


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC_0479w

Trash cans stationed on community corners and reserved for pedestrians have been bombarded by household rubbish, causing the receptacles to overflow, much to the dismay of local leaders and business owners.

“Monday morning, I come in and bags are piled up,” said Kenny Patel, owner of a fruit store along Myrtle Avenue, where much of the problem has occurred.

Some Glendale residents have been taking full trash bags and dumping them in city litter baskets, which quickly fills the cans, say locals.

“We need to educate the residents to not use these for household trash, that’s what makes the cans overflow,” said Assemblymember Mike Miller.

The assemblymember has been working with the Department of Sanitation to register businesses in the Adopt-A-Basket program to help keep sidewalks clean and prevent fines for local stores.

Business owners are responsible for trash in front of their store, which can become more difficult when trash cans are filled past capacity.

Sarsia Sabudin, who owns a deli on Myrtle Avenue that adopted a basket, said almost daily he needs to collect debris that litters the area in front of his shop due to an overstuffed wastebasket.

“I’ve seen people drive up, roll down their window and dump their bags into the garbage,” he said.

If a business adopts a trash can, the DSNY supplies the owners with green bags to line the receptacles. When these near capacity, the proprietor replaces the bag and places the full bag next to the container for pick up.

“It’s a lot better to have two or three garbage bags tied up neat, than an overflowing garbage can,” Miller said.

The program and increased enforcement will aid in the battle of bulging trash, Miller said.

“Once we identify a corner where we know the basket is being abused, we’ll have our enforcement agents monitor it,” said Ignazio Terranova, DSNY community affairs officer.

Dumping household or business trash in litter baskets carries a $100 fine.

Miller said he will contact the Sanitation Department with trouble areas and business that want to adopt a basket. The assemblymember also said he plans on requesting request additional days of collection.

The litter baskets along Myrtle Avenue are currently collected twice on Monday, once on Wednesday and Thursday, and once a month on Sunday.

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.

Politicians, locals want trash barged


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Locals and elected officials trashed a recently approved plan that will increase waste-filled train traffic, saying residents need refuge from the refuse.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved a plan on June 11 that increases the amount of sanitation districts’ garbage that passes through the Review Avenue waste transfer station and ends up on trains that travel through Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth.

Currently, 958 tons of residential waste is delivered to the site, Waste Management spokesperson George McGrath said. The new plan will add an additional 200 tons from districts in Queens. The increase would not take place until after the facility is renovated, which has no timetable, he said.

For years, residents have complained about the noise and odor from the trains.

“You have people who can’t open their windows. You have people that I know of that have moved,” said Anthony Pedalino, who lives just down the street from the Middle Village tracks. “It’s just become a nightmare.”

Pedalino documents the daily disturbances recording the times the trains pass behind his house, with the times often occurring before 6 a.m.

Instead of alleviating the issues, homeowners are worried their troubles will only increase.

The DEC said the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) analysis found the project’s impact would not be considered significant under the criteria in the State Environmental Quality Review regulation.

“I think any amount of increased noise or odor pollution is too much to withstand for these residents,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “These residents don’t need more rails bothering them on a daily basis.”

The DSNY could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Area officials — including State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Mike Miller and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley — gathered with residents outside the waste transfer station to urge the DEC to reconsider the plan and instead barge the garbage.

Currently, the garbage travels from the Long Island City facility north to Selkirk, NY, crosses the Hudson River and travels back south through New Jersey to Waste Management’s landfill in West Virginia.

“Now I don’t think that makes much sense when you consider this facility is sitting on the Newtown Creek, a waterway,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

Holden and the elected officials want the trash barged to a New Jersey port, either Port Elizabeth or Port Newark, both of which have stops along the CSX rail line that carries the trash.

“All we’re saying is we know the issue, we have to get rid of our waste. Well, we’re saying rationally, go with the barge, it’s right here; enough with the rail,” Addabbo said.

Any legislation to change the route would have to be federal because of the interstate travel.

While barging was considered, McGrath said, the narrowness of Newtown Creek at that point creates logistical problems.

“There is no place to store barges in that area, so you have to move them in and out several times a day,” McGrath said. “That in turn probably involves lifting the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge several times a day.”

“Our focus is working with customers in moving waste as efficiently as possible. In this location we believe rail is the way to go.”

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.

No garbage, recycling collection on Memorial Day


| brennison@queenscourier.com

In observance of Memorial Day, there will be no garbage or recycling collection or street cleaning on Monday, May 28.

Those who normally receive garbage pickup on Mondays should place their trash curbside after 5 p.m., the Sanitation Department said.

Residents who usually have recycling collection on Monday will have it picked up on Monday, June 4.

 

Trashy situation along Liberty Avenue


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Business owners are bearing the brunt of the burden as overflowing garbage cans and household debris continue to litter Liberty Avenue.

“People seem to think — when they see a trash can — that they can dump all of their garbage from home there. They think they have the right to do that. It’s frustrating,” said Monica, a manager at Monique’s Beauty Salon, who did not want to give her last name. “This always happens. I get upset because we didn’t put the garbage there, but we’re still being fined for it.”

Like Monica, several merchants along the main commercial strip in Richmond Hill have been slapped with $100 fines for waste that spills onto their storefronts, although they say the mess is not theirs.

“People leave nasty stuff outside — and when they leave it there, we get a ticket,” said Pam Mohabir, owner of Melanie Fashion Boutique.

Mohabir said she has seen garbage bags, construction waste and even mattresses pile up in front of her store on 127th Street.

She said she was pinned with a $100 fine at the end of November for debris and leaves blown in front of her store during a rainy day.

“When other people leave stuff outside, we have to bring it in to the back of the store so we don’t get fined,” Mohabir said.

The debris debacle has also raised concerns from local leaders.

Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, said the problem stems from a combination of not having enough garbage receptacles along Liberty Avenue and not having frequent enough garbage pickups.

“When the garbage overflows, the store owner gets a ticket. It’s a very unhealthy relationship,” Mahadeo said, adding that business has suffered as a result of the overwhelming amount of refuse. “[The area] no longer is a shopper-friendly environment. It’s a sore sight and it’s very unsanitary. When there’s overflowing garbage, you don’t feel comfortable shopping there.”

Councilmember Ruben Wills — who has been working with merchants about this issue over the last year — said trash pickups have been recently extended from two to three days a week after he and Councilmember Eric Ulrich were able to secure funding for it.

“That alleviated a lot of the problem,” Wills said, adding that they just added more funding.

However, according to Wills, the problem lies beyond insufficient pickups and trash bins. He said the area is home to several “illegally converted apartment buildings, which allows for a lot more garbage to be accumulated and for the infrastructure to be overwhelmed.”

He said he is currently working with the Department of Buildings and the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to enforce fines upon the people who litter and not the storeowners.

“It’s not fair for this issue to be put on the back of small business owners,” Wills said.

While business owners are still required to sweep their sidewalks during the day, DSNY officials said they are “closely monitoring litter baskets to address their misuse, as well as pedestrians to make sure they respect their community.”

Business owners are asked to report garbage overflow problems to 3-1-1.

No garbage/recycling collection on January 2


| brennison@queenscourier.com

In observance of New Year’s Day, garbage and recycling collection will be suspended on Monday, January 2.

Alternate side parking rules, street cleaning and mail delivery will also be suspended.

Residents who normally receive Monday garbage collection can place their trash out on Monday after 4 p.m. for pickup.  Those who receive Monday recycling collection will not have their recycling picked up until Tuesday, January 3.

For questions about Sanitation services and holiday schedules, contact 3-1-1 or visit the DSNY website at www.nyc.gov/sanitation.

No garbage, recycling collection on Thanksgiving


| brennison@queenscourier.com

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no garbage or recycling collection, or street cleaning on Thursday, November 24.

Residents who normally receive Thursday garbage collection should place their trash out at curbside Thursday after 4 p.m. for pickup.  Those receiving Thursday recycling collection will not have their recycling picked up until the following Thursday, December 1.

No garbage collection on Election Day


| brennison@queenscourier.com

There will be no garbage or recycling collection on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8.  Sanitation Department administrative offices will be closed.

Residents who normally receive Tuesday garbage collection should place their trash out at curbside Tuesday after 4 p.m. for pickup.  Those receiving Tuesday recycling collection will not have their recycling picked up until the following Tuesday, November 15th.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: No. 7 train service suspended this weekend


| brennison@queenscourier.com

NEWS YOU CAN USE:

No. 7 train service suspended this weekend

This weekend will be the first of five planned service suspensions on the No. 7 line. There will be no service on the train between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza beginning at 11:30 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. on Monday.

The suspension allows for the installation of a new signal system called CBTC – Communications Based Train Control.

The service suspensions will also take place during the weekends of October 28-31, November 4-6, November 11-14 and November 18-21.

Riders can use the E, F, N or Q trains to travel between Manhattan and Queens. Free shuttle bus service will be provided between Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue and Queensboro Plaza. Q train service will be extended to and from Astoria-Ditmars Blvd. during the daytime hours. In Manhattan, the 42nd Street S shuttle will operate overnight throughout the weekend.

No garbage pickup on Columbus Day

In observance of Columbus Day on Monday, October 10, there will be no garbage or recycling collection or street cleaning.

Alternate side parking will be suspended on Columbus Day and post offices will be closed.

Residents who normally receive Monday garbage collection should place their trash out at curbside Monday after 5 p.m. for pickup. Those receiving Monday recycling collection will not have their recycling picked up until the following Monday, October 17.

For more information dial 3-1-1 or visitwww.nyc.gov/sanitation.