Can can’t! Panel, city clash over garbage cans on Bay Ridge Avenue

Can can’t! Panel, city clash over garbage cans on Bay Ridge Avenue
Courtesy of Greg Ahl

Members of a local civic group say trash is piling up on the corner of Fourth Avenue and 69th Street since the city re-installed two garbage cans there, but the Department of Sanitation says the new bins have helped keep the area so clean that it plans on adding even more cans to the area.

Public garbage cans were removed by the city at the request of Community Board 10 earlier in the year as part of a study to determine if getting rid of the cans would make the area cleaner. Members of the board claimed that the bins attracted household trash and quickly became overfilled. But nearly as soon as the cans were gone, new baskets with smaller holes on top to deter mass dumbing appeared — at the request of state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).

Now, the city says the streets are cleaner, the small-mouthed cans are here to stay, and that there are more to come.

“We will be adding two more baskets across the street,” said Sanitation Department spokesman Matthew LiPani. “Overall, the streets are cleaner, and there is less household waste being placed on the corners.”

But Greg Ahl, chairman of CB10’s environmental committee, disagrees, saying trash is again piling up on the corners.

“It’s just the way we thought it would be,” he said. “I guess they’re just ignoring us.”

Household and commercial trash piles up on the corners near the baskets “several times a week,” he said. “The city does not pick up enough. And the cans do attract dumping.”

CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann backed him up, saying that trash has long been a problem on Bay Ridge Avenue, and the removal of cans had helped improve the situation.

“I forwarded this to Sanitation and said we need to look at this in the fall,” said Beckmann. “In many ways, 69th Street looked better without [the trash cans].”

The idea of removing trash cans from streets started three years ago in Bensonhurst, where Community Board 11 successfully lobbied the city to remove cans along 86th Street. But the movement really picked up when the city cut collections from public trash cans from up to three times a day to once or twice a week.

In May, Bay Ridge requested that the Department of Sanitation remove 14 trash cans from Fourth Avenue between Ovington Avenue and 68th Street as part of a test to see if the removal of the cans — which had become magnets for household trash —reduced waste.

At first, litter increased. But in June, CB10’s environmental committee said it had finally started to see a difference.

The city soon replaced cans by the 69th Street R station after Golden sent a letter to the city requesting it put the cans back.