By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Good intentions can have messy consequences, according to officials at two community boards in southern Brooklyn, who said that large metal bins placed on public sidewalks to accept clothing donations are not bringing out the charitable side of residents.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback from our residents,” said Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst “They told us people are dumping garbage near the bins. And people have been seen pulling clothes out of them,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The bins are popping up on sidewalks all over Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, officials at community boards 10 and 11 said.
The non-profit groups responsible for the bins are routinely ignoring a city regulation prohibiting the placement of clothing bins on public property, according to Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckman. “They don’t belong on a public sidewalk. But in the past two weeks, they’ve been popping up all over the place. It looks like they’re placed haphazardly,” she said. She estimated that Bay Ridge has more than a dozen of the bins.
“The placement of collection bins by any person, other than a government or governmental agency, or its contractors or licensees on any city property, property maintained by the city, or on any public sidewalk or roadway is prohibited,” the Department of Sanitation regulations read. “Collection bins include, but are not limited to, clothing bins. Failure to comply with this prohibition may result in the removal of any collection bin improperly placed on public property,” according to the regulations.
Like her colleague in Board 11, Beckmann has received numerous complaints from local residents about the proliferation of the bins. “One of the complaints is that it’s difficult to tell what organizations are responsible for them. People in our community are aware of the many not-for-profit organizations like the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army, and St. Mary’s Church, which collect clothing for the poor. People prefer to donate to an organization they know,” she said.
The bins do list phone numbers where residents can call to get more information. But the names of the organizations are not always posted. Some of the bins have numerous stickers with the logos of everything from the American Red Cross to obscure groups, making it hard to distinguish which agency is responsible.
There’s another reason residents don’t like the bins. “They’re also unsightly,” Beckmann said. “The clothes are overflowing and there are graffiti tags on them,” she said.
Beckmann said she believes the companies responsible for the bins pay property owners a fee for the right to place the bins on sidewalks. Nonetheless, they don't belong on a public sidewalk, she said.
Over in Bensonhurst, several of the bins were placed on Bay Parkway between 65th and 69th streets, Elias-Pavia said. Board 11 officials contacted the city’s Department of Sanitation. The agency has reached out to the bin owners to warn them that the receptacles are going to be taken off the street, she said.
Under city regulations, the Dept. of Sanitation places an orange sticker on the bin, notifying the responsible party that it has 30 days to remove the bin. If the owner ignores the warning, the city takes the bin away, Beckmann said.