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Seventh Avenue is filthy!

The Brooklyn Paper

Seventh Avenue is a dirty shame — and you can blame the city!

Park Slope’s main street has morphed into a trash-ridden dump after two city councilmen allowed a street-cleaning contract to expire — a contract that only came about because the Department of Sanitation couldn’t keep the retail strip clean.

For months, trash cans have consistently overflowed — dripping fluids that smell like rotting Chinese food and funky frat boy socks — into the restaurant-lined strip.

“I literally have to hold my nose when I walk down the street,” said Pamela Johnson, who lives on Garfield Place. “It looks like the worst part of the South Bronx in the 1970s.”

That’s because the city’s trash collection schedule is not frequent enough to keep the bustling street clean — and elected officials have chosen not to renew a contract with the Doe Fund, a non-profit that hires homeless men for clean-up crews.

The Department of Homeless Services, in conjunction with the Park Slope Civic Council, first inked the one-year, $40,000 contract in 2008 in order to maintain the street beyond the city’s duties. Now, Councilman Steve Levin (D–Park Slope) and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) say the contract, which had been renewed for three years, is no longer cost-effective and sustainable.

What’s more, the street — which helped transform the neighborhood from a crime-plagued slum into a hub for the hip — has no formal merchant’s association, unlike its once-dirtier neighbor Fifth Avenue, where business owners pay an additional tax to provide additional sanitation pickups and supplement inadequate city services.

Under the now-defunct contract, workers emptied full trash cans, set the bags on the sidewalk, then relined the cans with new bags. They also painted street poles and swept sidewalks and gutters daily, going far beyond the Department of Sanitation’s infrequent street sweeping and trash collection — which dropped dramatically from three times per day to twice per week on commercial strips this past year.

The workers are gone, and as a result, trash is now fluttering down sidewalks. Of course, sidewalk clean-up and garbage duties have always been the responsibility of neighbors and merchants, said Craig Hammerman of Community Board 6, but after the contract ran out at the end of May, he began fielding phone calls about the “shabby” conditions between Flatbush Avenue and Seventh Street.

Indeed, merchants — many of whom say business is the anchor of the neighborhood — want the contract renewed.

“It’s a small price to pay,” said Edgar Loria, a manager of Cousin of John’s Café & Bakery. “That much trash attracts rats and mice — and people eating food don’t want to see it.”

Even so, will likely come down to lack of funds and shifting priorities: Levin said the contract is too expensive to renew, especially considering other “valid and deserving” groups — about 500 of in total — have requested money from the same “discretionary” fund, which councilmembers allocate to the district.

Levin added that he and Lander will investigate other ways to keep the street clean, noting, “We plan to work with merchants and figure out a way that’s more cost-effective.”

The councilmen later sent a joint statement noting that avoiding teacher layoffs and firehouse closures come before The Doe Fund.

“We have had to close multi-billion dollar budget gaps,” the statement notes.

In the meantime, businesses owners say they’ll pick up the slack — like they always do.

“Some businesses got lazy once the program started,” Louis Barricelli, owner of Cousin John’s. “Really, it’s up to us now.”

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Reader Feedback

JBOB from Slope says:
These same councilman are currently beginning a contest to determine how to spend a million dollars of discretionary funds. This is absurd, theres no better use of funds than public health and safety.
Sept. 20, 2011, 7:58 am
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
Refund the program - People had jobs and our streets were clean. This is a no brainer
Sept. 20, 2011, 8:24 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
7th Avenue living up to the reputation once again as Park Slob. And there are many of them, no matter how many trash cans there are out on the streets. Look at 5th Avenue, at least they try and with all the restaurants there the effort shows. Bring back the Doe Fund guys - the expense is worth it for the neighborhood and for the guys getting work.
Sept. 20, 2011, 8:40 am
John Doe says:
“It looks like the worst part of the South Bronx in the 1970s.” Hyperbole much?

Sounds like the merchants want BID services without having to pay the assessment. Merchants could "adopt" one basket each and replace the liners themselves. Heavens, no! This is Park Slope!
Sept. 20, 2011, 9:05 am
tee gee from sunset park says:
my, my, my....why shouldn't 7th avenue merchants pay an extra $500 a year like 5th avenue merchants do for that extra service? no more welfare checks for 7th avenue
Sept. 20, 2011, 9:32 am
Alan from Park Slope says:
The garbage is so out of control on the weekends it makes me embarassed to walk on the streets!
Sept. 20, 2011, 10:27 am
ilovebrooklyn from Park Slope says:
Form a BID, 7th Ave merchants! Take some responsibility for your own street.
Sept. 20, 2011, 10:37 am
parkedslope from ps says:
It used to be that you'd see merchants out on the street sweeping (and residents too!) and now you see NONE of that. It's really disgusting how dirty Park Slope has become. I walked down Lincoln Place between 7th and 8th Avenue last night and it was FILTHY.

Everyone should be helping to make the neighborhood clean and beautiful. If you are walking and see a piece of trash, pick it up. Things have really gotten bad around here.
Sept. 20, 2011, 10:55 am
Jooltman from Park Slope says:
Is there a way to get Sanitation to use can liners and leave a few extras in the bottom of the cans like the Doe Fund did? Then regular citizens and merchants could tie them off when they get too full. It's sad & gross that we've come to this, but I would be happy to chip in and wash my hands later.
Sept. 20, 2011, 11:36 am
js from parkslop says:
I think 7th Avenue needs larger trash cans. The tiny baskets aren't cutting it. Get the large ones with the round hole at the top (they are in other places all over the city) and then you can save money by not having them need to be picked up as often. Plus those larger ones with just the round hole at the top don't allow for spillage all over the street.

It is about time 7th Avenue steps up to the plate and forms a BID. The street is going downhill at the same time that the level of merchants is increasing.
Sept. 20, 2011, 11:44 am
js from parkslop says:
And can someone tell me what is UP with the Ace Supermarket on 7th Avenue (near Berkeley). That place looks like HELL! Are they ever going to do something about the front of that place?
Sept. 20, 2011, 11:51 am
umadbro? from wat says:
And whats the deal with the homless people who sit on milk crates in front of stores begging for money. As a store owner why would you let them camp out in front of your store?
Sept. 20, 2011, 12:19 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
I always assumed that the Ready, Willing and Able guys worked for something like a 7th AVe BID.

The pails on 7th Ave in Park Slope should be no more overfilled than the ones on 7th Ave in Midtown.
Sept. 20, 2011, 12:45 pm
prospect park from parkslope says:
umadbro,

I agree with you. And that SAME GUY has been sitting in front of Ace Supermarket for YEARS now. I can't believe they now are putting out a seat for him. Especially since I heard that dude won the lottery or something years ago and blew all the money and now begs again. It's so weird to see him talking normally to some people and then act so pathetic and helpless when other people walk by. I've stopped going to Ace because he pesters people in and out of there. That place is a hole.
Sept. 20, 2011, 1:02 pm
K. from ArKady says:
It's amazing how addicted the rich are to these wealthfare programs. It's like they wouldn't wipe their own arse without the city paying homeless people nickles to do it. Dorian Grays portrait is torn; now your true face begins to show through.
Sept. 20, 2011, 1:20 pm
trashnomore from ParkSlope says:
Trash collection and streetcleaning is not a 'wealthfare" program. It is a city service which we pay taxes for. Yes, the merchants SHOULD step up to the plate, but you would never ever see this happen in Chelsea or the West Village or most any other neighborhood in Manhattan. There was a point last week when every single can on 7th was overflowing into the streets with trash EVERYWHERE. That is the city's responsibility and to blame it on the residents of Park Slope is ridiculous. I sweep in front of my building and business every single day. Do you?
Sept. 20, 2011, 1:46 pm
K. from ArKady says:
Did you read the article? Park slope gets city trash service. But apparently this is not enough for the lazy and slovenly well-off. They need special discretionary money. I mean, it's not like house bound seniors _need_ that meals on wheels program; not when some trust fund kiddies can't hit the bucket with their oversized coffee cup. Yes Virginia, it is wealthfare, and the country in swimming in it. The fleas have finally drained all of the blood from the dog.
Sept. 20, 2011, 2:20 pm
ty from pps says:
The streets are dirty because Brooklyn residents are dirty... it has nothing to do with a city contract. The city shouldn't need a contractor to pick up after the picky, disgusting people in this town.
Sept. 20, 2011, 2:21 pm
Tony V from South Slope says:
I think some of the latter respondents are missing the point -- there is too much garbage being created for the cans to hold and for the city to schedule to pick up. It's not solely the case of people being slovenly.

Park Slope is filled with so many take-away food places ranging from ice cream and yogurt place to coffee places to burger, hot dog, pizza and all sorts of other food joints.

They rely on (or take advantage of) the city to collect the trash their goods create. So the merchants should kick in money to remedy the removal of the portable trash they create.
Sept. 20, 2011, 4:30 pm
dustin from ps says:
Obviously going from pick up 3 times a week to 2 times a week had made all the difference. Go back to 3 times a week OR get larger trash cans. The latter is more cost efficient, plus they look nicer. The see-through baskets that are there now are old, beat up and ugly.

Have the merchants along 7th Avenue chip in for new cans and be done with it. Either that, or they need to start a BID because frankly I'm fed up with the disgusting mess that 7th has become. I know a lot of people are.

The trash is totally out of control and a health hazard.
Sept. 20, 2011, 4:48 pm
Jbob from Slope says:
The blame lies squarely with Brad Lander and the other councilmen who cancelled a contract with nothing in place to take up the slack.

Manhattan is no cleaner than Brooklyn but like so many other city services, it gets better coverage and more frequent pick ups.

The point is not should the BID pay for it or should the city or a combination of the two. The point is that there is a lot of garbage (for many reasons) and that there was a system in place to take care of it. Our city councilmen disrupted the system without any plan to fill the gap. And its particularly egregious because the same councilmen claim its because of funding while at the same time they advertise that they have a million dollars of discretionary funding.
Sept. 20, 2011, 4:53 pm
uke from PS says:
In general, I've noticed more trash even on the side streets. Are people in this neighborhood so entitled that they could walk to and from their home or apartment and never think to pick up a broom or toss that can or bottle into a can? This neighborhood (even when it was rougher) was SPOTLESS in the park blocks. Now you walk down President Street between 7th and 8th Avenue and it's litter everywhere.
Sept. 20, 2011, 5:01 pm
prillis from ps says:
i hate to make sweeping generalizations, but it's the fking kids. everytime i see them, they're just tossing things on the ground like it's cool not to give a sht.
Sept. 20, 2011, 5:58 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
@ prillis

The pails are not being emptied. Stop making generalizations and read the article.
Sept. 20, 2011, 6:29 pm
K. from ArKady says:
So two guys are sitting on a cloud in Heaven. One guy sez, "I'm so happy right now, here in Heaven, that I think...I'm going to cry, I'm so happy". A great tear wells up in his eye and falls down his cheek. Suddenly, there is a sound of trumpets and appears before them, the Hand of God himself, bearing a kleenex. He wipes the very tear from the first man's cheek. Second man sees this and sez, "Wow. That was incredible!. I'm so happy, I think I'm gonna soil myself, I'm so happy.". And a great turd wells up from the man's anus, and lands there on the cloud. Soon flies start to gather and the stink becomes noticable. Time passes. More flies gather. The stink of the second man's bowel movement is turning the very cloud brown with it's odor. The first man turns to the second and sez, "Hey, you know what? HEAVEN STINKS!"
Sept. 20, 2011, 7:33 pm
Biddy from Slope says:
Seventh Avenue merchants: You need to get your act together. Form a BID. You should have done that years ago.
Sept. 20, 2011, 8:58 pm
jbob from the slope says:
So your answer is the politicians have no responsibility and we just wait on a bid to form while we swim in garbage? Shame on you Councilmen Levin and Lander for shirking your responsibility to find a solution!
Sept. 22, 2011, 7:19 am
prillis from ps says:
@ chicken underwear: chickens blow.
Sept. 22, 2011, 11:15 am
jbob from slope says:
Email Brad Landers staffer and voice your concerns:

Catherine Zinnel

CZinnel@council.nyc.gov
Sept. 23, 2011, 7:55 pm
lalaland from kensington says:
I'm guessing if Lander called Sanitation they would say they do x number of runs a week in commercial districts across Brooklyn and there's no extra money for extra pickups on 7th Ave so....

Add me to the list who think the merchants should get their stuff together and form a BID to take care of it. Other business districts do it for the same exact reason.
Sept. 23, 2011, 7:56 pm
John Doe says:
Even if jbob gets credit for each and every post, more people disagree with him or her than agree.
Sept. 30, 2011, 9:17 am

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