Generating trash is the easy part – getting rid of it all is the real problem.
Neighborhood residents at this month’s meeting of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association at the Kings Highway Reformed Church on Quentin Road got a keener understanding of the state of garbage disposal in this borough courtesy of Department of Sanitation Citywide Community Affairs Officer Iggy Terranova.
How complicated is it?
“You gotta be a genius to throw your garbage out,” Community Board 15 member Ed Eisenberg observed.
Here are a few examples: fallen tree limbs are infested, rechargeable batteries are toxic and poop on the sidewalk is a landmine that could land you in handcuffs.
“It’s not about taking money out of your pocket, it’s about keeping New York City clean and beautiful twenty-four hours a day,” Terranova told residents.
Some state legislators want to slap a $225 fine on sloppy pet owners who don’t clean up after their animals. Get caught leaving the scene of the crime and sanitation cops can even pinch your pooch.
Terranova calls this the “pooper-trator” law and it only takes a single $100 summons to get the message across.
“If I take $100 out of your pocket you’re going to remember my bald head,” he laughed.
Voracious Asian Longhorn Beetles make it impossible for the DOS to pick up fallen tree limbs and now require residents to make special appointments with the Parks Department to have them immediately disposed of in their wood chippers.
Your gardener is also prohibited from leaving lawn clippings out for collection. They’re supposed to haul the stuff away themselves.
“If they try to tell you different – get rid of them,” Terranova advised.
Drained batteries can be tossed in the trash – but only the regular kind. Disposable batteries have to be brought back to the point of purchase for proper disposal.
Think you’re a good citizen by meticulously sorting through your trash and depositing items in their proper recycling containers? Think again because as Terranova pointed out, you’re breaking the rules if you don’t pull the caps off those plastic bottles first – they’re not recyclable.
It doesn’t get any easier outside the home either. According to Terranova corner litter baskets are vanishing. Sometimes the disappearance can be blamed on crooks, but other times residents might have no one else to blame but themselves.
“Litter baskets are being abused,” Terranova explained. “People can lose their litter basket privileges.”
Household trash in sidewalk litter baskets is verboten but some people still insist on filling them up, and when they do the DOS can decide to pull the baskets off the street.
Litter baskets will be returned to recalcitrant communities on a conditional basis if they’re willing to clean up their act, according to Terranova, but if the wrong kinds of trash start piling again – look out – because they’ll be pulled again quick, the DOS point man warned.
“We’ll watch them like a hawk,” Terranova said. “If they’re being abused they’ll be taken away immediately.”
It is a dirty job and Terranova said that it’s also a dangerous one. Tossed out items like full cans of hairspray are combustible and can explode in people’s faces. Garbage men out on their routes are struck by automobiles more often then you might think.
“Our job is just as dangerous as cops and firemen, sometimes more so,” Terranova said.
The next meeting of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association will be on May 15 at 7:30 p.m.