The July heat only enhanced the scent of garbage as Assemblymember and mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis walked with residents over overflowing trash bags and past mattresses and furniture left alongside 62nd Street during a trash tour through Dyker Heights on Thursday, July 6.
It isn’t uncommon for the residents of District 10 to have to circumvent mattresses, or step over rotting eggshells or around heaps of garbage and scattered broken electronics to make it down the street.
“It looks like a third world country, that’s what it looks like,” said Malliotakis, who says she would make fixing such problems a priority if she were to take office.
Residents pin the blame on one major factor: the district-wide implementation of the organics program, a compost recycling program that is one of the key initiatives of the mayor’s zero waste by 2030 objective that has given the city the goal of sending no waste to landfills through waste reduction and increase of recycling. Residents say they have always had a trash problem but the changes to pick up have left garbage sitting for days and weeks and caused a spike in illegal dumping.
“Our taxes have gone through the roof and we are not getting any service, and people come here and go ‘I thought you lived in a good neighborhood. What is this?’‘ We have trash all over the place,” said Beatrice DeVito, who lives in the area. “It’s just not fair. The quality of living in the 22 years that I’ve been here has gone down. And the city is just making it worse.”
Community Board 10 requested that the volunteer organics program be offered district-wide following a successful pilot program in sections of Bay Ridge. On October 2, 2016, all of CB 10 began organics collection.
With the organics program came changes to pick-up procedures. According to a presentation created by CB 10, all single hopper trucks were replaced with dual bin trucks, meaning that trucks that once picked up trash in one large bin now have two sections – one for trash and one for organics.
The splitting of the truck has resulted in an inability to pick up large items. Both recyclable and non-recyclable bulk items larger than three by four feet now have a special collection process. According to the presentation, one designated single hopper truck goes around the district once a week only picking up items on a list supplied by DSNY’s CB 10 garage.
Josephine Beckmann, CB 10’s district manager, said, in addition, that twice-weekly Motorized Litter Patrol, which used to pick up litter in 30 different locations, including along 62nd Street, had been discontinued.
“We are supportive of organics … but the changes that were made to accommodate the change in fleet that was needed, need to be addressed because it’s not working,” said Beckmann who says the accumulation of bulk items and lack of litter pick up has attracted even more illegal dumping. “To have this level of street level trash on the streets, and to lose the MLP in 30 locations is having a negative impact, it really is.”
Complaints have been at an all time high at the community board office. Since October, 2016, over 900 calls about bulk trash and over 100 about litter have been made to the office. For residents, it’s a daily frustration and a daily discussion, with many saying the changes are not only causing trash to sit outside their homes but also exacerbating illegal dumping.
“They’re not picking up the bulk,” said Carl Esposito, who lives near 62nd Street. “People don’t want it front of their house so they take a ride and throw it all along here.”
According to Department of Sanitation representative Belinda Mager, CB 10 is one of the cleanest districts in the city, scoring a rating of 97.9 percent. She said that no services were eliminated and that the community is being served by “basket trucks, mechanical sweepers, the borough’s JTP [Job Training Program] workers” and a refuse collection crew responsible for servicing drop-offs along their routes.
“There will always be challenging areas that need attention and we will continue to work hard to clean them as quickly as possible,” said Mager in an email. “Residents and businesses are our partners in keeping the city clean. Both have a responsibility to keep their property, including 18 inches into the street, clean. Residents are also our partners in combating illegal dumping. If residents notice illegal dumping, we ask that they report to 311, or fill out the Illegal Dumping Affidavit or Illegal Dumping Tip Form.”
All known dumping locations are monitored by enforcement teams, said Mager.