Photo by Ray Johnson

After months of complaints from residents and business owners, the Sanitation Department is adding corner litter basket collection along Sheepshead Bay’s commercial streets, according to Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office.

Beginning July 1, Kings Highway, Avenue U and Sheepshead Bay Road will receive extra attention from the department.

“Not only did the overflowing corner baskets look awful, but they were a magnet for additional trash and an open invitation for vermin,” Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “It was getting so bad there was hardly a corner that was spared from this urban blight, and adding insult to injury, the mess would frequently sit on the corner for several days until the regular collection truck came by.”

Last July, Sanitation Department officials ended regular pickups of public trash cans, which happened as often as two or three times a day, seven days a week. Instead, trucks collected during their residential drive-bys, which occur about twice a week.

The additional service announced by Cymbrowitz’s office won’t restore that frequency of service, but does promise improvements. In addition to the residential drive-bys, basket trucks will pick up from Avenue U, Kings Highway and Sheepshead Bay Road twice a week. Residential trucks will also devote a portion of their shift solely to basket cleanings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Business owners say the cleanup will be an improvement, but doesn’t go far enough.

“It’s always overflowing,” said Alex Mikhaylov, owner of Jonathan’s Bakery at 1424 Sheepshead Bay Road. “Two times a day is okay. Three times is perfect.”

Mikhaylov said he makes frequent calls to 311 to complain about garbage.

“I’m running a food business and I don’t want all the trash in front of my store,” he said. “It’s unsanitary and it’s disgusting.”

Because his business is next to the train station and in front of a bus stop, he said cleaning up after commuters is becoming a costly burden on his business.

“I told them if I have to clean more than four times they need to provide me with a full-time employee,” he said. “And guess who’s getting a ticket if they’re putting [garbage] in front of my store?”

Cymbrowitz’s office told Sheepshead Bites they’re pushing to restore full service, but Sanitation can’t deliver because of budget constraints.

So the assemblyman is considering other options. Cymbrowitz said that the problem doesn’t solely lie on Sanitation’s shoulders, but also with residents who disregard the law by dumping household garbage in the litter baskets. The assemblyman said he’s developing a plan to educate the public that throwing household garbage into public cans is illegal and can result in a summons.

In addition to that, he’s pushing Sanitation’s “Adopt-A-Basket” program. The all volunteer program recruits businesses, organizations and individuals to monitor public litter baskets to help prevent overflowing. The Department supplies green plastic bag liners, a collection schedule and a contact person, and are tasked with changing the liners when the basket is three quarters full. Bags are tied and placed next to the basket until collection comes around, helping prevent debris from spilling onto the street.

According to Oswalt Heymann, Cymbrowitz’s chief of staff, Sheepshead Bay’s businesses have so far balked at the proposal, but they’re looking for ways to make volunteering more attractive.

“If we could get merchants to adopt baskets,” it’ll help stop the accumulation and overflowing, Heymann said. ”It isn’t a big deal; a couple of minutes a day. That would make a big difference with or without any additional pickups.”

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    The local businesses could have garbage cans with their names on it. What's better publicity than that. And a grateful public will start going into their stores.

    It could happen, you know.

  • Georgia

    Every morning I walk to the Sheepshead Bay station & it's disgusting the things that I see. A few days ago there was a rat that ran accross the street towards Ave Z. I have seen mice & the stench is enough to make you sick. The store owners should clean there walks with bleach or a power wash every morning in front of there businesses. Just before you approach the station that's when it hits you that block is very bad. The baskets are to small for the volume of people that are passing through. But the public is just as much responsible for this.
    This is my opinion.

  • Evelina

    Lisanne,
    I am so with you! There is so much businesses could do help raise awareness and make an improvement. If every business did that, there would be 1) more garbage cans (hence less overflowing), 2) the garbage cans would look a little more… attractive. I noted two very decent garbage cans in front of the st. petersburg bookstore on Brighton Beach Ave, and noticed also that the area in front of the store is much cleaner.

  • Evelina

    I completely agree that the public is responsible, (and many need to be educated about the problem and their responsibilities), but I also found that there are not enough garbage cans to begin with, which makes it so much more difficult to educate/encourage people to “keep NYC clean.” Perhaps if there are more garbage cans, less frequent pick-ups wouldn't be such a huge problem.

  • Georgia

    Yes correct we do need more garbage cans do you know there is not one pail from the corner where Clements used to be to Shore road all along Sheepshead Road on any corner this is an outrage.

  • Master Mind

    Like other people here, I too walk to this subway station every morning and on some mornings its like walking through a literal garbage dumb. However I think blaming the business owners in this case is not fair. I doubt that any of them are interested in having something that looks like elephant vomit in front of their business. I personally blame the sanitation department which is responsible for the garbage pick up. The way that the sanitation workers handle the trash is disgusting. Throwing, it, improperly handling the bags and the boxes with fish products outside the fish store. And if something rips or breaks they just leave it where if falls. When they empty the trash cans half the trash falls past the truck and onto the road. Do they pick it up? Of course not. More frequent trash pick up would help but what';s the use if half the garbage that's supposed to be picked up ends up on the road or sidewalk due to mishandling of it?

  • Evelina

    I am far from “blaming” the business owners. Instead, I am thinking what, realistically, can be done to improve the situation (and, alas, such actions on the part of the Department of Sanitation just don't appear very “realistic” to me). My point is that we (residents and business owners) can (and probably should) express our frustration over the city's failure, but, while we do that, we can also figure out what steps we can take immediately. I think many big changes in the world were made this way–that is, starting with individual acts and spreading to society overall…

  • Evelina

    I am far from “blaming” the business owners. Instead, I am thinking what, realistically, can be done to improve the situation (and, alas, such actions on the part of the Department of Sanitation just don't appear very “realistic” to me). My point is that we (residents and business owners) can (and probably should) express our frustration over the city's failure, but, while we do that, we can also figure out what steps we can take immediately. I think many big changes in the world were made this way–that is, starting with individual acts and spreading to society overall…

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