Pelham Gardens residents are elated after a polluted vacant lot was cleared
The vacant lot on the corner of Waring and Westervelt avenues, which extends through Kingsland Avenue behind Westervelt, gets overgrown every year.
According to Community Board 11 vice chairman Tony Vitaliano, who lives directly across the street from the area, he recalls the lot being cleaned twice a year by the Department of Sanitation, but says the routine is now limited to a once-a-year cleaning which normally occurs in late May or early June.
However, by the beginning of August, Vitaliano and fellow board member Gene Tutora, who also lives on the street, became concerned as to why the lot had yet to be cleaned. The two men inspected the property and found mosquito-infested ponds.
Entangled in the overgrowth were empty alcoholic containers, discarded bags of garbage, used condoms, and construction debris. Vitaliano then contacted CB 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and the DSNY was immediately notified.
“This is by far the worst it ever was,” Vitaliano said. “It was nice when it used to get cleaned twice a year, but now we’re waiting longer and longer. This time, it was a complete mess in there.”
The DSNY finally sent a crew of workers to clean out the lot on Monday, August 8. Vitaliano and Tutora were very relieved with the end result.
With a front-end loader, the Sanitation Lot Clearing Unit cleaned out the polluted area and backbladed the weeds so that they do not grow back so quickly. According to one of the workers, the lot was last cleaned in November 2010.
“It’s not consistent the way it’s cleaned and the result is overgrown weeds,” Vitaliano said. “The pollution was horrible, but my biggest concern was the large amount of mosquitoes in there. The West Nile Virus is still something we need to be concerned about.”
The clean-up took about two hours, and workers came out sweaty and bitten by mosquitoes. Vitaliano, Tutora, and Vacca hope that DSNY monitors the lot more often to avoid a similar problem in the future.
“When Community Board 11 told me of their frustration, I reached out to Commissioner’s office and was able to get quick cooperation,” Vacca said. “We can’t have large vacant lots uncared because they will only go from bad to worse. I am glad I was able to help the Pelham Gardens community in this case.”