A ‘hole’ new station

Maryann Caputo of E. 16th Street says the MTA’s expensive renovation of the Avenue J station in Midwood has made her yard a trash-filled nightmare.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The MTA’s renovation of the Avenue J subway platform is turning neighbors’ backyards into garbage dumps thanks a new fence that allows trash to blow from the station onto their property.

Residents of the E. 16th Street — some of whom gave up five-feet of their yards to eminent domain when the transit authority began extending the platform — say that since a concrete wall protecting them from the noisy station came down earlier this year, garbage is being blown and thrown into their little pieces of paradise and the noise from the train is keeping them up at night.

“Everytime the train passes now, garbage comes into my yard,” said Benito Juarez, whose lived on the block between Avenue J and K for six years. “We get a lot of cigarette butts now.”

The MTA constructed a controversial windscreen after it removed the wall as part of its station renovation earlier this year. But slots between portions of the fence are up to four inches wide, and neighbors contend the new structure allows riders to peek through into the yards and throw trash there. On top of that, trash can easily blow through whenever a train goes by, and the fence does little to repel sound, say neighbors who claim they can now hear the conductor’s announcements very clearly whenever a train stops at the station.

“We’re having trouble sleeping,” said Juarez, who was so upset by the noise and lack of privacy that he covered up slots facing his yard with aluminum.

But even after Juarex took matters into his own hands, the MTA says the new fence is here to stay.

“There are no plans to change the design now,” said MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker.

But residents say they warned the MTA that the barrier wouldn’t be sufficient when the agency revealed its plans during the eminent domain process.

“We have been fighting this for years, but they haven’t listened to us,” said Maryann Caputo, who has two houses on the block that border the subway platform. “An MTA representative once told me that if I didn’t like it, I should move!”

E-mail records confirm that residents on the block had been complaining to the MTA about its plans for a Swiss-cheesey barrier since 2006.

The MTA defended the fence, which it said are part of a universal design for outdoor stations that allows rainwater to flow freely from the station.

“The new windscreen design … cannot be customized” wrote Frederick Smith, in a letter to a resident of the block in April.

But residents say they’re getting the shaft.

“We need the MTA to do something — the new platform is nice for riders, but for us it doesn’t look good,” said Juarez.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/from_where_isit.

The recently-renovated Avenue J subway station looks pristine — because the trash now blows into residents’ backyards through slats in the platform’s new walls.
Photo by Matthew Nedbalsky

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