Tag Archives: litter

Richmond Hill program will alleviate litter

| mhayes@queenscourier.com


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.

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.