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[greenyes] New York City Redux
Another example of New York City Department of Sanitation's apparent
determination to kill recycling.


 Hip-deep in stinky mess

N.Y.ers trash-talk garbage pileup


      Bags of garbage crowd Brooklyn sidewalk as city neighborhoods adjust
to fewer recycling pickups.

      Eddie Rodriguez (l.) and super Manuel Mena puzzle over recycling

      Youngsters pass by an overflowing trash can on Foruth Ave., in

Hold your noses, New Yorkers: The big stink is here.
With recycling pickups slashed to once every two weeks - and massive
confusion over the new schedule - rain-soaked garbage is piling up all over
the humid city, turning sidewalks into fetid and filthy obstacle courses.

And trash in corner litter baskets - the ones with "Keep New York City
Clean" stamped on them - is overflowing into the streets as some people use
the cans as a dumping ground and the growing rat population uses them as a
grazing ground.

Not helping matters is the hard-to-decode guide the city issued, with new
rules for recycling plastics and pickup schedules shortened by budget cuts.
In some cases, maps of Brooklyn and Queens went out mislabeled.

"I work for Sanitation, and me and my wife couldn't figure out what friggin'
week we were supposed to put out the stuff," said one Brooklyn garbage man.

The Daily News scoured the city and found eyesores - and nose annoyances -
all over, including:

a.. Bags of leaking milk jugs, tin cans, newspapers, cardboard and juice
boxes sitting untouched for days on sidewalks and stoops amid driving summer

a.. Boxes and bags of recycling trash dumped in parking lots and alleys or
stuffed into overflowing city litter baskets.

a.. Bags of trash piled 10 feet high, fermenting in the basements of
apartment buildings where superintendents and tenants are counting the
minutes to recycling day.
"It's a monster mess," said Eddie Rodriguez of the Bronx.

Like other folks on his Longwood block, Rodriguez dragged his recycling to
the curb by 6a.m. Thursday - but it sat there all day in the drizzle until
he pulled it back inside.

Didn't get the word

Rodriguez said he never got the notices telling him the schedule was going
to once every two weeks from once a week.

He was not alone.

"Everyone in my neighborhood put their recyclables out on the wrong day,"
said Dorothy Nearty of Woodside, Queens. "Half the people didn't get a
notice from the city; the rest didn't understand them. Even if you have any
brains, you can't figure it out."

In addition to being confusing, some of the elaborate charts and maps
contained errors. A map of Queens provided to some homes was labeled
"Brooklyn," and a map of Brooklyn was labeled "Queens."

"How stupid is this?" asked Eloise Hamer of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who got one
of the bum maps Friday after her recycled newspapers had sat outside for
nearly a week.

The city, which recently laid off more than 300 sanitation workers, spent $1
million on a publicity campaign explaining the new recycling schedule and
the July 1 addition of certain plastics to the recyclables list.

Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Vito Turso said the department did its best
to notify the city's 3.5 million households about the new recycling
schedule, which went into effect July 28.

The decision to scale back recycling pickups was made in late June as part
of the budget deal. Weekly pickups are scheduled to return in April 2004,
when the city restores glass to the list of recycled materials.

"It's an enormous undertaking to notify 8 million New Yorkers of a change in
their lifestyle in just under six weeks," Turso said, noting the department
sent mailings to homes, placed ads in newspapers, posted information on the
department's Web site and informed the city's 311 quality-of-life hotline

The city will hold off another 60 to 90 days before it starts ticketing
homeowners for putting out recycling on the wrong week, or for incorrectly
sorting plastics, Turso said.

But people still risk getting summonses now if they don't correctly recycle
papers, metals and cardboard, he said.

While some people insisted it seems as though the Sanitation Department is
emptying the city's 25,000 litter baskets less often, officials insisted
there has been no change in that pickup schedule. In many cases, people are
stuffing household trash in the baskets, Turso said.

Andy Darrell, regional director of Environmental Defense, said the city
needs to do a better job of getting the word out. "There isn't a flyer on
everyone's fridge yet," Darrell said.

In the meantime, the piles of trash have become a smorgasbord for rats and
an aluminum mine for panhandlers.

"It's good picking here," said Larry Drumgo as he scavenged bottles and cans
out of a recycling bag left on Garfield Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn, last
week. He retied the bag after searching through it, but noted, "Others
aren't so neat, I know."

Storage 'nightmare'

Apartment building owners and managers said they do not have space enough to
store two weeks' worth of tin cans, jugs, newspapers and cardboard.

"It's a nightmare," said Ira Meister, president of Matthew Adam Properties

At posh 99 John St. in Manhattan, a week's worth of recycling filled the
compacting room. A two-week wait will mean overflow, said building manager
Derrick Komorowski of Rockrose Development Corp.

A doorman at an E. 65th St. high-rise could not hide his disgust. When asked
what he thought of the new pickup schedule, he turned his back toward the
security camera and gave a thumbs-down.

"It's piling up down there - and that means rats," he said.

Richard Welks of Woodlawn, the Bronx, spent Friday afternoon shoveling
disintegrating cardboard into a plastic bag. He had no idea when his
recyclables would be picked up next.

"If the city wants to get people to recycle, this ain't the way to do it.
What a mess," he said. "It makes me want to say to hell with recycling."


Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell    (608) 438-9062
email: anderson@no.address

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