BY VICTOR PORCELLI
Community members who recently pushed the Department of Sanitation to clean an East Flatbush dump site are now asking city and state officials to help finish the job.
The stretch of Farragut Road from Utica Avenue to Kings Highway — which has been a trash-filled car graveyard for decades, according to locals — was cleaned by DSNY on June 18 at the urging of community activists. However, debris and trash still crowd the inside of the burnt-down car wash on the corner of Utica Avenue and Farragut Road, as well as the MTA-owned land that borders the stretch to the south.
Hercules Reid, who has led efforts to clean the site as part of a larger call for environmental justice in the area, calledon the MTA and Mayor Bill de Blasio to address the two uncleaned areas during a rally at the site on Sunday. Reid emphasized the importance of continuing to call on elected officials to address community issues.
“Why is it that it took us coming out here, using our time, using our sweat, partnering with the Department of Sanitation to clean up this lot, before somebody saw the need? Why is it that we continue to elect people that neglect certain areas of our neighborhoods and why are we not asking them why?” Reid said. “This is what happens when you hold your elected officials accountable. Let’s not forget this property has looked the same way for over 25 years.”
Reid thanked Councilmember Farah Louis and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, who were involved in initial efforts to get the dump site cleaned.
Louis, who attended Reid’s first cleanup in May, said she would attend the rally on Sunday but did not show up. Assemblymember Nick Perry did the same — neither Perry nor Louis responded to a request for comment by press time.
Former Deputy Director of Operations for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Shabazz Stuart also spoke at the rally. At DBP, Stuart worked toward keeping public spaces and streets clean. He emphasized that the organization had a $2 million budget at its disposal, in contrast to the unfunded efforts of the East Flatbush residents who gathered for the third time on Sunday to bring attention to the long-neglected strip.
“No community in New York City should be dirty or clean simply on account of the wealth of a tax slot or the color of skin of the people who live there,” Stuart said.
Many of the community members who attended shared Reid’s view that, although much of the area has been cleaned, it is just a start. Some suggested also adding “No Dumping” signs and finding a better use for the space.
“Hopefully, going forward, they are able to do more with the property, something that’ll better serve the community than this,” Che Jones, who has lived in the area for eight years, told Brooklyn Reporter.
Marguerite Vigilante, who lives in the area and was the one who brought the issue to Reid’s attention, said that the recent cleaning of the site marks new progress for an old problem.
“I am head-over-heels ecstatic about what’s happened here. I’ve lived here all my life and this area has always been a blight,” Vigilante said. “Now we’re moving forward.”