Bronx residents have noticed an increase in trash on the ground throughout the borough, following the city slashing $106 million from the operating budget of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
Street cleaning has been reduced and city litter baskets are not being emptied as often.
On Sept. 1, the Community Board 7 Environment and Sanitation Committee held a meeting where residents and board members discussed the overflow of trash.
“We had to make some very difficult decisions recently,” said Steven Caruso, the citywide community affairs officer for the DSNY. “Most of these cuts have been reflective in our cleaning services.”
Caruso explained that up to 63 percent of the litter baskets have been reduced. While he stressed that it does have a big impact on all five boroughs, residents and business owners need to do their part as well.
These responsibilities include people properly disposing of their trash and business owners cleaning up the sidewalk and gutters next to their store, which extends from the building line to 18 inches into the street.
“I think more than ever it’s important we work together,” he said. “We can’t just rely on the Department of Sanitation.”
According to Caruso, e-waste pickups are suspended due to COVID-19, so many people are dumping TVs, electronics and furniture in city trash cans.
He noted that in order for someone to get fined, the DSNY actually has to witness the violation.
“There is more improper disposal of those items because they don’t know what to do with them,” he said.
Elizabeth Quaranta said many business owners are just sweeping trash to the curb and not actually getting rid of it. While she understands that they are following city regulations, she would like to see some type of legislation that would mandate they pick up the refuse.
“They just have to bend down and pick it [trash] up,” she said.
Resident Jake Wilson told the board there has been garbage in front of P.S. 310 for weeks. Wilson also noted that Heath Avenue is getting gross.
”Since the pandemic has subsided there has been no cleaning on Heath Avenue,” Wilson commented.
The committee suggested doing a walk through of the commercial corridor to remind the store owners of the need to keep the sidewalks and streets clean and broached the idea of doing monthly cleanups on certain blocks.
Committee Chair Betty Arce stressed that while the budget cuts are hurting the community, residents must pitch in and do their part.
“It’s not just sanitation that keeps streets clean,” she stressed. “We’re the ones that have to remind our neighbors you have to pick up after your dog.”