New Efforts To Keep Garbage Off The Streets

A litter basket in Ditmas Park. (Photo: Liena Zagare/Bklyner)

BROOKLYN – Garbage has been top of mind for quite a few neighborhoods, especially those in less well-heeled areas, but also worrying some CEOs who penned an open letter to the Mayor last week.  Either way, Mayor Bill de Blasio is finally taking notice.

“We have more work to do to keep working on the quality of life every day in this city,” de Blasio said this morning at his press conference. “And we know with a tight budget that it’s been tough in terms of what we’ve seen in some of our streets and parks. And, we want to improve the cleanliness level.”

Litter baskets service cuts were made citywide as part of the budget tightening, including a reduction in weekday service, and the elimination of Sunday/Holiday service citywide.  The service cuts amounted to a 63% reduction in the current budget, resulting in garbage cans all across the borough overflowing.

The city will be restoring approximately 64 litter basket trucks in areas across the city most impacted by COVID-19. This will be a 24% increase from the current levels or about 45% of what we had before. In Brooklyn, the areas will include Bedford Stuyvesant, Brighton Beach, Brownsville, Bushwick, Canarsie, East Flatbush, East New York/Starrett City, and Sunset Park.

Other areas include those that are expected to see increased pedestrian traffic as people begin returning to work.

“The cleanliness of our streets is directly tied to public health, and now more than ever, we need to do whatever we can to maintain the high standard New Yorkers deserve,” the DSNY Director of Communications Belinda Mager said. “This new announcement will go a long way – but we also need New Yorkers to be our partners, disposing of trash properly. Remember, corner baskets are for small items like coffee cups or candy wrappers, and putting household or business trash in them is illegal.”

A couple of weeks back DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia resigned, blasting the severe budget cuts during the public health crisis as ‘unconscianable’. Her last day is Friday, September 18.

CleaNYC, a sidewalk cleaning program, had been suspended indefinitely because of city budget cuts related to COVID-19 will also be restarted by the NYC Economic Development Corporation with The Doe Fund  providing cleaning services in neighborhoods and parks throughout the city through the end of the year.

Additionally, the city will be partnering with community-based organizations and elected officials to sponsor community cleanups and to mobilize volunteers to help collect litter on streets and parks.

“A lot of you have seen out there, good, good men and women out there turning their own lives around, but doing great work, helping communities to be clean. We’re going to be extending that effort in a number of neighborhoods and parks around the city. So, those efforts, and we’ve found some additional changes that we’ve made in our budget to allow for those,” de Blasio said. “But we’re also recognizing there’s a lot of people beyond the city government, a lot of community-based organizations, elected officials, a lot of folks in the private sector are sponsoring their own cleanup efforts with their own employees or with volunteers from the community. And that’s fantastic. I’m seeing that happen more and more all over the city.”

“We need your help,” he continued. “We’re going to keep doing everything we can to get the most done from the public sector, but everyone else who is contributing, it makes a huge difference.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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