Bensonhurst Residents Bemoan Garbage Issues At Town Hall

Councilman Greenfield and Sanitation Department's Iggy Terranova

Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Midwood residents blasted the city’s handling of garbage-related issues in their areas, including fines, holiday pickup schedules and overflowing trash cans along commercial boulevards, at a town hall hosted by Councilman David Greenfield.

Greenfield spoke to an auditorium full of residents at the St. Athanasius School on March 29. The meeting was called to address sanitation and parking issues for Bay Parkway and the surrounding blocks—an area Greenfield dubbed the city’s “largest growing community.”

He began by making mention of his recent accomplishments.

“He wants to be a sanitation superhero,” quipped one elderly resident.

She’s not far off. Among other efforts, Greenfield has plunked down $1 million in capital funds to purchase snow removal equipment, including snow-ready trucks fitted with plows for the sanitation garages in his district 44 neighborhoods. He’s also responsible for writing a bill that recently became law: A ban on the impossible-to-remove neon yellow stickers stuck on car windows for violating alternate-side parking regulations.

“I know the issues here,” he said. “I live three blocks away.”

Among the residential gripes is the area near McDonald Avenue and 60th Street, which is considered by most to be an illegal commercial truck stop. Greenfield has been working with the NYPD and DOT to setup sting operations in order to catch truck drivers and stop them from leaving their commercial vehicles overnight.

He’s also urged the NYPD to put up clear signage warning of towing and ticketing for illegally parked trucks.

“Before, police were reluctant to give out tickets without the signs,” said Greenfield.

Sanitation representative Iggy Terranova was also on hand to discuss the DSNY’s strategies for a cleaner and less congested Bay Parkway. His department plans on continuing their multi-lingual outreach efforts to local business owners about illegal dumping and unloading.

“It’s disgusting,” yelled an audience member. “I won’t step foot anywhere near those supermarkets in the summertime. It stinks!”

As the subject of holiday trash pickups came up, the audience became rowdy.

“Every official holiday falls on a Monday and we remain without Monday recycling pick-up in our area…Where can we store three weeks’ worth of aluminum, plastic bottles, newspapers?” yelled another impassioned local.

Terrenova explained the Sanitation Department’s handling of holiday trash as being divided into a 70/30 percentage ratio. If a pickup falls on a holiday, the DSNY will take 70 percent of the leftover trash, leaving 30 percent for the following scheduled day. On the subsequent holiday, the numbers are reversed with a 30 percent pickup and 70 percent leftover until next time.

He admits this is not a great solution, but insisted the Sanitation Department is operating on a bare-bones budget.

“We just don’t have the crew to pickup up all 100 percent,” he said.

Greenfield was unafraid to name names in his blame for the city’s sanitation woes. He points the finger at Mayor Bloomberg and the deep sanitation budget cuts he instated, calling him a “bottom-line mayor” that “makes money from tickets.”

Greenfield also called out the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for not supporting his Bay Parkway plan to purchase “big belly” garbage bins as replacements for existing top loading bins – which overfill as Sanitation pickups have decreased.. He says his office has set aside several thousands of dollars to push this project forward but the OMB has not been cooperative.

Big belly bins have an internal solar powered compactor, thus allowing for increased capacity with simultaneous garbage dumping and compacting.

“The [old] bins have 72 hours of survival. But if you throw commercial or residential garbage in, the bins survive one hour,” said Terrenova.

Before the meeting’s end, tempers flared again when local residents spoke up about excessive sanitation tickets for foreign garbage that blows onto their property.

Terrenova and Greenfield and gave conflicting response to the inquiry, with Greenfield mentioning a ticket quote and Terrenova shooting down any quota schemes.

Ultimately, they agreed by urging home-owners to take photos of the property, call 311 and obtain a complaint number, and then contact the representative’s office and the local community board. Greenfield promises to champion the rights of residents in any sanitation disputes.

Greenfield is not in favor of ticketing residents or even local business owners to enforce clean-up. He says that they should be a last resort in the efforts to fix the situation on Bay Parkway. Instead, he’s focused on education outreach in a variety of languages, clear signage, and better equipment to clean up the neighborhoods. He’s also hosting two clean-up events: April 29 marks a community day of action in Bay Parkway and May 19 is the clean up for the Seth Low public park.

“Call us. Tell us what’s going on,” he said repeatedly. “Try us out, this is what we do.”

To discuss garbage or parking disputes or to get information on the clean-up days, call David Greenfield’s office at (718) 853-2704.