Litter baskets to be cleaned twice a day
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
What does a clean sidewalk have to do with the borough’s economic outlook? Plenty, according to Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
“Customers won’t shop in a place where there are dirty sidewalks,” he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Dirty, litter-filled sidewalks repel customers, which causes businesses to lose money, which in turn, causes the city to lose tax revenue, he said.
The chamber’s members, especially the mom-and-pop stores that make up 70 percent of the membership roster, want the sidewalks in front of their establishments free of litter, Scissura said. “Clean streets is one of the top things our members talk about, along with health care costs,” he said.
Scissura was one of the officials on hand at a press conference Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) called on Aug. 1 to announce that he had secured funding to help business owners in his district keep their sidewalks clean.
Gentile and Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr. (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst), who is chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, said they brokered a deal with the Bloomberg Administration to have the city pay for additional trash collections at litter baskets on local commercial strips by the Sanitation Department.
Sanitation Department workers will clean out the litter baskets twice a day, four days a week, Gentile said. “These baskets will be picked up much more frequently,” Gentile said at the press conference inside Boulevard Books & Cafe, a bookstore on 13th Avenue. The announcement was scheduled to take place on the sidewalk outside the book store, but was moved inside because it was raining.
The twice-daily litter basket pickups will take place on all along Third Avenue and 13th Avenues on 69th Street between Ridge Boulevard and Fifth Avenue, and on portions of Fifth Avenue, Gentile said. “We touch on each of the commercial corridors in BK 10,” Gentile said. BK 10 is the designation the Sanitation Dept. gives to Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, the two neighborhoods located within Community Board 10.
“Business owners and residents all will welcome this level of service,” Gentile said. The idea behind the increased collections is to make the commercial strips “more attractive to businesses and to shoppers,” he said. “No one wants to see trash overflowing,” he added.
“It is one of the things we worry about,” said Tatiana Nicoli, owner of Boulevard Books and co-president of the 13th Avenue Merchants Association. Nicoli, who also lives in Dyker Heights, said residents also worry about litter on sidewalks.
Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, called the new program “great news for Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.”
City Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said he was pleased that Gentile and Recchia secured the funding for the additional collections. “We can’t do the job without having a team,” he said, adding that his agency works in partnership with elected officials and community residents to keep the streets clean.
Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, said the litter baskets in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights were emptied twice a day many years ago under a program instituted by Marty Golden, when he served as the councilman from 1997 to 2002. But the second daily collection was stopped about 10 years ago, Vella-Marrone. “I’m very grateful that the program has been reinstated. We haven’t had it for 10 years,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Now that the litter baskets are going to be cleaned more frequently, Doherty said the Sanitation Dept. will continue its educational outreach to residents to remind them that the litter baskets are for litter, not for household trash. “Don’t be bringing your household garbage to the litter basket!” he said, adding that large, bulky trash causes the baskets to overflow with garbage.
The agency has an “Adopt-A-Basket” program in which every day citizens can accept responsibility for the litter baskets. Under the program, a resident agrees to clean the basket. Gentile said he engage in a promotional effort to get more residents to participate in the program. “You get a free pair of gloves!” Doherty said. Participants receive gloves from the Sanitation Dept.
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is on board, Scissura said. “We’re going to take this model and make it work throughout the borough,” he said, adding that the chamber will have a program to encourage business owners to take part in the “Adopt-A-Basket” program.