Southern Brooklyn

Civic Group Seeks Plan To Curb Neighborhood Filth, Faces Pushback Over Agency Jurisdiction

Source: Lisanne Anderson

The Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association met on Thursday to create a roadmap for tackling the neighborhood’s trash problem, but faced pushback from the Department of Sanitation, which claimed some of their concerns were better addressed to other agencies.

Approximately 50 neighbors gathered at the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park, located at Fillmore Avenue and Marine Parkway, to voice concerns to their local government representatives.

Bruno Iciano, the Community Affairs Liaison from the Department of Sanitation spoke first, opening up the floor to concerns from the group about ongoing garbage problems along major corridors, as well as underneath the Brighton Line subway overpasses. The group’s leadership expressed his hope that the department will work closely with the community to improve conditions.

“Our goal is to create a plan to attack all aspects of sanitation,” said Ed Jaworski, the civic association’s president. “It is our hope that grassroots might drive policy.”

Iciano spoke to the audience about several ways that local communities could get involved with neighborhood problems. He spoke highly of the “Adopt-A-Basket” program, the “Sponsor-A-Basket” program, and the Doe Fund. These first two projects would, respectively, allow property owners and individuals to take responsibility over local trash baskets and allow participants to sponsor “high-end” baskets that discourage residents from using them for household trash. The third program would provide local merchants the ability to hire individuals “going through tough times” at a low-cost to help clean up the streets.

The initiatives, though, fell short of satisfying neighbor’s questions, which focused on enforcement:

  • “What do you do with repeat offenders?”
  • “How can we tell if neighbors that get fined actually pay those fines?”
  • “We need to do something about the subway overpasses by the B and Q train on Sheepshead bay. What can you do?”

Not many of these concerns were resolved. Rather, the conversation seemed to resemble a game of hot potato, a diffusion of responsibility by government agencies.

“We’re not responsible for cleaning sidewalks… The overpasses, those are the responsibility of the MTA… You’ll have to call 311,” Iciano said during his presentation.

The MTA, however, sees it differently. Responding to Sheepshead Bites’ questions about maintenance in February, the MTA has previously said that cleaning underpasses and removing hazards like snow and ice are the city’s responsibility, either through the Department of Transportation or the Department of Sanitation.

On preventing sidewalk litter baskets from overflowing, Iciano said they hope to work more closely with residents who live above the storefronts.

“We’re gonna have to do outreach on Avenue U,” he said.

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch told the crowd he would work to keep the pressure on the agencies.

“Keeping our communities clean is our main mission. We want people to stay and shop here. We don’t want them to go to other areas,” he said. “We need to educate small business owners. But that isn’t the only step. It’s a process, and I will be holding every city agency accountable.”

Jaworksi noted that he wished the MTA had sent a representative so that both, the MTA and DOS, could take ownership over the sanitation problems surrounding the local train stations.

“I wish someone would make the connection and take responsibility, say, ‘Let’s talk and get this done.’ How long can they keep passing the ball around?” said civic member Kathy Jaworski.

Comment policy


  1. The Department of Sanitation is passing the buck, It is not the responsibility of of the MTA since they do not own the property under the overpasses. or even own the subway and elevated property. They only have a lease to operate the service for $1 per year.The only circumstance where it would be the MTA’s responsibility is if the area in question were beside a substation. That’s substation, not subway station.

    Since the Department of Transportation is not responsible for removing garbage, except possibly for removing garbage along highways. The only other possible agency responsible could be the Department of Parks, since they are responsible for parkways. I believe, but those cases would be rare. Most likely it is Sanitation.

  2. It really was a game of hot potato…. No one will take responsibility for it. Walked out of their with the feeling of ‘you want it clean, do it yourself’. Which is no answer at all. In the meantime, with the advent of warmer weather, the stench is beginning again under the not MTA responsible, not Sanitation’s problem underpasses.

    I wish I, or anyone could catch/photo the people who are doing the garbage dumping.
    Is there such a thing as shame anymore?

  3. Sanitation is wrong. First of all, the MTA is a state agency and 311 will not be taking complaints on behalf of King Cuomo’s kingdom. Generally, these types of problems are often solved or at least re mediated thru Education and Enforcement. The Dept of San has a small but handy uniformed (and armed) police force, in addition to their unarmed Agents. With a community outreach program esp. done in non-English language posters and speaking to ethnic community groups. Then, write more summonses.


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