Alley oops: Ridgeites battle change in garbage pickup on private streets

A new service change by the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is causing big problems for residents of four private streets in Bay Ridge.

Beginning on March 13, DSNY stopped collecting trash on Wogan Terrace (94th and 95th Streets between Fifth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway), Hamilton Walk (94th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues), Lafayette Walk (94th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues) and Barwell Terrace (97th and 98th Streets between Third and Fourth Avenues).

Instead, residents were instructed in a letter sent to them by DSNY to place their trash on the public sidewalk abutting the closest public street. The problem, however, is that there is simply not enough space on these public curbs, residents say, and the garbabe lands up in front of another person’s private home.

Barwell Terrace resident Bill Larney was outraged at the service change, and called into question the logistical concerns created by the shift.

In a letter addressed to his neighbors, Larney instructed them to call Community Board 10 and Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s office.

District Manager at CB10 Josephine Beckmann, agreed with Larney’s concerns telling this paper, “Could you imagine four cans for 16+ houses all in a 20-foot space? You don’t have any frontage.”

In its letter to residents of Barwell Terrace, DSNY said the reason for the change was that “private walkways/easements and alleyways are not accessible for Sanitation trucks.” Larney noted however, that the trucks never went down the private walks at all.

Prior to the service change, residents would place their trash in front of their homes, and a Sanitation worker with a mobile receptacle on wheels would walk down the street and collect the trash. The truck would stay on the public street and never entered the private streets, some of which, such as Barwell Terrace, do not allow any through traffic at all.

This was the procedure up until 4 p.m. on March 13, when residents had to start putting their trash down at the end of their block for pickup. In addition to the massive amounts of trash piling up in the street or blocking the sidewalk and getting in the way of pedestrian traffic, this has caused other issues.

“The last house on my side [of the street] is an elderly couple. A number of residents are elderly with different health conditions, and now they have to bring their garbage all the way curbside,” Larney said.

“You’re pitting neighbor against neighbor,” said Beckmann in reference to the new competition over space for trash on the curb.

Beckmann and CB10’s Environmental Committee organized a forum on March 27 in the auditorium at St. Patrick Catholic Academy (401 97th Street) to discuss the service change. Residents of the affected streets were invited, and over 100 attended, as well as representatives from the offices of Borough President Eric Adams, Gentile, Congressmember Dan Donovan, and Assemblymember Pamela Harris. A representative from DSNY was also present to hear concerns.

DSNY’s argument is that service on these streets is subject to department approval, and can be changed at the discretion of the department. In addition, streets must be able to accommodate a collection truck. Third, the owner of a private street (or homeowner’s association) must provide proof of insurance.

Residents emphasized over and over again that this policy was changed after nearly 100 years of service collection. The new policy also requires homeowners to put their trash on the public street, but, as has been the case for these four blocks, there is not ample space to accommodate all the trash that results.

One argument made by CB10 is that DSNY is requiring people to violate Administrative Code of the City of NY 16-120(a) regarding improper fisposal, which states: “A person may not use another person’s receptacles without permission, or place his/her refuse in front of a premises other than the building in which he/she resides or works.” Violation could result in a fine of anywhere from $100-$300.

The representative from DSNY said that the agency will take into account everything said at the forum regarding this matter and relay that information to Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

In a statement from Gentile’s office, Justin Brannan, Gentile’s Chief of Staff, said, “Councilman Gentile continues to work closely with Commissioner Garcia and the mayor’s office to find a creative resolution to this issue. It is not fair to the residents of Wogan Terrace, Lafayette Walk, Hamilton Walk and Barwell Terrace to have their garbage collection suddenly changed when it has been done without issue or incident for close to 100 years. NYC Organics Collection and the collection of trash from these unique alley streets are not and should not be mutually exclusive.”

Beckmann and the residents of these four streets simply want service restored to the way it had been previously.

“It has been this way for 100 years for a reason, and it needs to go back that way,” said Beckmann.


  1. Pretty ironic. these arwe the same people that won’t let anyone park on “their” street. Too many arguments to remember when trying to park there. Funny as I always asked who picked up their garbage when they said no-one was allowed on their street.
    Let them hire private sanitation for their private street!

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