Another Passive Aggressive Note on Cortelyou, This Time About Trash

Trash Note on Crown on Cortelyou

Cortelyou Road between East 16th and East 17th Streets has become a busy stretch for passive agressive notes. First the two left on a car that had its alarm going off for hours, now on the roll-down gates of the yet-to-open Crown restaurant, which reads:

PLEASE KEEP YOUR SIDEWALK CLEAN, ALONG WITH YOUR TREE PIT.

THANK YOU,
ALL OF YOUR NEIGHBORS

Trash on Cortelyou Sidewalk

This pic is from a few days ago, possibly what prompted the note. We understand on a windy day, like some we’ve had recently, trash can get tossed around and will accumulate in certain spots, like a tree pit.

But, as we’ve noted before, businesses and residents are required by the Department of Sanitation to keep sidewalks (including areas like tree pits) and gutters along the perimeter of their buildings clean. If you don’t, you face a fine of $100-300, and, clearly, the ire of your neighbors (and potential customers!).

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  1. Actually, I would not characterize these notes as passive aggressive. Much of this neighborhood is a trash haven — there are people who regularly dump trash and large items on Ocean Parkway sidewalks; I see people all the time throwing trash on the ground and on people’s lawns; I have a neighbor who has a trash can in the corner of her front yard so people won’t throw garbage directly into her yard; empty lots strewn with junk (I had to fight for weeks a few years back to get a lawn cleaned up); my own block is an unsightly mess…people don’t even clean up the tree pits in front of their homes…leave unwrapped discarded mattresses sitting on the sidewalks.

    So, actually, given the ongoing mess, this letter seems relatively harmless. Besides, I am certain no one pays any attention to them.

    I guess I am not sure why many people believe that what is outside their house is not part of their home environment…I am not saying that everyone in the hood is a slob…but it’s amazing how little people care.

    My next project is to secure a few grants and try to get our block cleaned up…flowers, tree guards, some garbage picking…and in the end, bring people together to create a community…and we can start by making the block a bit nicer.

  2. I was just walking my dog, and I’ve gotta say the entire Ditmas Park neighborhood looks like hell right now. Maybe it’s the wind, but there’s trash everywhere. The bushes are jammed with plastic bottles, there’s plastic bags filled with takeout containers, dog poop, and beer cans all on the sidewalks and in people’s front yards. There’s shattered glass from broken car windows, and shattered Snapple bottles everywhere. I even saw part of a dashboard laying on the side of the road. Seriously, it might be time to start taking turns cleaning up our streets each morning. When I lived in Fort Greene, there was an 80-something year old guy who would pick up all of the trash on our street every single morning and it was always spotless. A few years ago, he went on a two-week vacation, and the trash piled up like I’d never seen it before, so my landlord and I decided to go clean everything up before he got back. Might be time for us to start acting more like him.

  3. I agree: “Passive aggressive” gets tossed around a lot as a descriptive term, but notes like these really don’t qualify. How else to directly alert someone you have no way of talking to personally that there’s a problem? Same goes for the “your alarm is killing us all” notes.

  4. As someone who lives on this block and wrote one of the notes, I have 2 cmts. First, from WIkipedia on passive-aggressive: “expressing aggression in non-assertive, subtle (that is, passive or indirect) ways.” So, these notes are not passive-aggressive- they’er very direct. Mine certainly was intended to be.

    Second, yes wind is a factor but also the DOS is very lax about picking trash up when they are supposed to. What sits out on this block is household trash on MWF but it’s stuff from businesses every day. That’s a lot of garbage.

    I would also point out that ConEd has left a nice little mess: a yard-square divot in the sidewalk, right in front of Cafe Madeline, which is fenced off with their lovely & scenic orange & white saw horses and is rapidly filling up with trash.

    So… before we blame our slovenly neighbors, can we please look to our institutions first? Those of us who live here don’t have the luxury of trash cans that sit out to hold bags of trash. We put trash out when we are supposed to, and hope the DOS comes so that, for example, our landlord doesn’t get a fine, because then he comes back to us. We’re very conscious of it and conscientious about it, and, you know, we live here, so it’s not like we enjoy looking at all that trash any more than you do- we see it more frequntly, you know?

  5. We could use kids to make people who litter feel guilty/ashamed of their behavior. Kids from the schools could do a massive cleanup campaign around the neighborhood. Perhaps their visibility and clean sidewalks and tree pits would be an impetus for people into not disposing of trash improperly. Not all people, of course. But it might affect a few.

    PS 139 could be a leader in this and organize a day of service a few times during the school year. A kind of social studies project. They could work in conjunction with Rhoda Jacobs’ office.

  6. I have a crazy sssnole idea. The Ditmas Park Corner Pretty Block Challenge. It’s like those greenest block in brooklyn and prettiest block in brooklyn contests but just in our neighborhood. It stretches from Caton to Ave. H and from Ocean to CIA. We pick a date and on that date a committee of caring neighbors goes around and votes for the prettiest block. There is a house block category, an apartment building block category, and a commercial block category. Ideally we would have a business sponsor it and the winners would get a discount at that business if they bring in something to prove they live on that block. In the business block category we would all try to patronize a business on the winning block on a given day. Also, you may be eleigble for a sssnole hug. Thoughts?

  7. er, yeah, as someone trained in psychology….incorrect use of the term “passive aggressive”.

  8. The hug is tempting, but prettiest is so subjective and there’s not much a block’s current residents can do about a block’s architectural features or lack thereof.

  9. I think the purpose here is to point out that the entire community is responsible along with DOS. Passive aggressive does not describe your notes, which were nicely written, fair, and direct…passive aggressive is not a nice phrase.

  10. This is not a crazy idea…and is what I talked about in my first post. I’d love to talk to you more about this…I think it’s a great way to pull merchants and residents together…and also a way to engage some local community groups and our community board…let’s talk…how do I get in touch with you?

  11. I really don’t think this is about semantics…someone is throwing out an idea about community organizing…the name, at the moment, is irrelevant…it’s the great potential.

  12. This is a tempting idea…but rather than have students do it alone, it should be part of a larger community effort…

  13. I can only speak for myself, but the kids of Brooklyn are probably the last people in the world who could make me feel ashamed of ANYTHING.

  14. Yeah, there would have to be some guidelines about judging. I think it’s probably just about trash and things that people can control. (Extra bonus points for fire hydrants painted like crazy characters if I am the judge!) But i think it could be figured out and the point is that we would all be winners as a result.

  15. The sad truth is that Cortelyou Rd is one of the dirtiest commercial streets in NYC. I think for the most part people are oblivious to the amount of litter or just used to it.

  16. Too bad a lot of the litter comes from the neighborhood kids. I see them dropping their litter, bottles, and cans wherever they please, hardly ever in a proper recepticle.

  17. Love it. I’m in. Perfect timing with spring around the corner. We just need to find captains for each block who can make sure someone is cleaning up at least twice a week. Just involves walking up and down the street with a trash bag, a broom, (and perhaps some gloves) and picking everything up. Would also be great if we could get the DOS to install more trash cans on the side streets like Westminster and Stratford, etc.

  18. Great idea, except some apartment building blocks have no hope of ever winning. No matter how little trash there is, some blocks just aren’t “pretty.” Maybe we could just judge the apartment buildings on being clean?

  19. Yes, this is what i meant although I think we could also include taking care of things like tree pits and window boxes and such. … and fire hydrants painted like crazy characters.

    Also on a separate, I would argue that every building has something pretty and special about it in it’s own way. You just need to look closer sometimes.

  20. The trash in our neighborhood is quite embarrassing. As a home owner, it has been quite frustrating to have to pick up the crap that people drop with no regard as to who might have to pick it up. Enough is enough!!! This includes some of the irresponsible dog walkers too by the way. Stop putting your dog crap on top of my trash bags thinking that the Dept of Sanitation is going to take it like that.
    A note is a nice way to communicate because I feel like going postal over this topic sometimes.

  21. Lets also have the parents around here stop their kids from destroying whatever they like. Sick of eating somewhere where a mommy dumps a whole box of cheerios on the ground under my feet and just leaves it there. Sick of jumping out of the way of your toddler that just knocked over 4 large plastic containers of milk that are now covering the entire corner store’s floor. You people get mad at the lower income people trashing the place up because they don’t care about litter or gentrification but you do similar things and expect others to clean up your mess.

  22. The tenants in my building tried to get together and clean up & plant the green space in front of our building. We went to the landlord with a proposal (basically just planting some flowers and shrubs and maintaining it) and they nixed it on the grounds that it was a safety hazard. We did plant some bulbs in the tree pits. Sadly, most were destroyed when the city planted new trees (not that I’m complaining about the new trees).

  23. It’s horrible, but as a daughter of a small business owner (up in the Bronx), I’ve seen my father get fines for things he can’t control and he does a LOT more than he is expected to in many ways to keep everything clean and shoveled etc. People throw stuff into the pits, and the store isn’t open 24 hours a day. While I don’t know this pit or the particular stretch, I do think it can be difficult. I would say more important are the businesses who are closed during a snowstorm (like the daycare on cortelyou) and don’t shovel at all or wait so long that it becomes ice. I like the notes, and I hope they help.

  24. Things have gotten pretty bad in our neck of the woods, especially on the malls of Glenwood Road and Avenue H (West Midwood). Residents seem to have given up on the corner houses where much of the trash is left and the malls are a no man’s land for garbage. Now with each dog walk I pick up a bunch of trash. Maybe if we all do our part and a little more, others may get the message. As far as the notes, whatever works!

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