EAST FLATBUSH – Farragut Road near Utica Avenue has become a dumping ground for garbage. Now, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is calling for people to document the culprit(s) and make their streets cleaner.
“You know, this is our community. This is where we live. This is where businesses are located. And a person that dumps here is really sending a message to our entire community that we don’t matter,” Adams said on Sunday. “Someone would drive through here and they’ll say, ‘Look at these community residents, they don’t care about where they live.’ That is wrong. The hundreds of thousands of people who live here, they are angry about this.”
Adams’ office has been receiving multiple complaints with photo documentation from local residents about illegal dumping. So over the weekend, Adams and his team went over to inspect the situation and it was worse than they imagined.
“This is not a reflection of who we are,” he said. “This is a reflection on the small number of people— and it may be just one or two people— who believe that our blocks are their dumping grounds. And we say they need to stop.”
The entire block is swamped with overflowing garbage bags, broken pieces of furniture, dirty napkins, notebooks, cardboard boxes, and abandoned cars.
Council Member Farah Louis says she has been working with the MTA and the departments of Buildings, Finance, and Sanitation to address the illegal dumping on Farragut Road for two years. She has also partnered with local residents for community cleanups and has allocated funds through the NYC Cleanup Initiative for the DSNY, and nonprofit organizations like Wildcat Service Corporation to keep the area clean.
“Despite our continued efforts, the debris always returned. The disposal of household and business trash at this site is wrong, disrespectful, and a threat to the health and safety of local residents,” she told Bklyner. “With the additional budgetary cuts due to our city’s COVID-19 response, the Department of Sanitation cannot shoulder the responsibility of cleaning this corridor alone. At our request, there will be an interagency response to schedule regular maintenance while increasing enforcement against illegal dumpers. No one should ever have to live near piles of trash that will own lead to rodent infestation and the spread of disease.”
Sally Wu, 23, often drives by the street on her way to work. She said she has seen garbage take over the area for at least a year now. And most of the time, it smells.
“I think there was this one time I remember that the street was mostly clean. I believe they did a cleanup of some sort a while back. But just a few days later, the garbage was back,” Wu told Bklyner. “I am not sure if there are cameras here, but maybe those will help. The situation needs to be addressed ASAP because it’s also a safety hazard. There are a few abandoned cars here as well with no license plates.”
Like with many city departments, DSNY faced large budget cuts. The new city budget slashed $106 million from DSNY’s operating budget. Just three months ago, DSNY’s Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told NY1, “ There will be a significant reduction in service and these were just really difficult choices… It makes it so that we are much more dependent on the partnership we have with residents and businesses to help keep the city clean.”
But even with the large budget cuts, Belinda Mager, the Director of Communications at DSNY, assured us that the Department was continuing to enforce sanitation-related rules and is working to keep the city clean.
“Yes, we work to remove derelict vehicles from city streets and yes, we enforce illegal dumping laws,” Mager told Bklyner. “Now more than ever, we count on our fellow New Yorkers to be our partners in keeping the city healthy, safe and clean. Property owners have a moral and legal responsibility to keep their property clean (Including the sidewalk and extending 18 inches into the street). Additionally, residents and businesses must dispose of unwanted material in the proper way – again, it’s a legal and moral responsibility.”
According to the DSNY, residents who see abandoned vehicles on public property should report it to 311. And for those who witness illegal dumping, they are also requested to report it. There is even a reward program available.
Additionally, Adams is calling on the DSNY to put in place a three-level plan that includes cleaning up the location, ensuring real enforcement is taking place to identify the offenders, and having a long-term plan to coordinate with community boards, local businesses, and residents to stop illegal dumping like this from happening again.
“And so, we’re asking you, if you drive past here on Farragut and Utica Avenue and you notice someone is illegally dumping, just use your iPhone or any phone, take a photo or a short video and send it to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org,” Adams said. “This will allow us to now move to the next level of enforcement. Trust me, there are only a few people who are doing this. Let’s catch them and let’s clean up our communities.”