City to North Brooklyn: Filthy streets means lots of alternate-side parking

City to North Brooklyn: Filthy streets means lots of alternate-side parking
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

Greenpoint and Williamsburg are so filthy that the city says it cannot cut the number of days it sweeps the streets.

North Brooklyn drivers have long begged the Department of Sanitation to reduce alternate-side parking, claiming that four days of weekly street cleaning is excessive — but an agency spokeswoman said the city will not reward neighborhoods that can’t pick up after themselves.

Sanitation spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins claims the city had no choice but to reject a Community Board 1 application for less street sweeping after Williamsburg and Greenpoint fell below city standards for cleanliness, according to data compiled during a three-month survey last year.

“The Community Board could apply again for a reduction in street cleaning regulations — once the area has two consecutive fiscal years with a rating of 90 percent or above,” Dawkins said.

Some residents agree that North Brooklyn’s streets are dirty — but said the neighborhood’s garbage problem at least partly the city’s fault.

“They should reduce alternate-side parking and pick up the trash on the street,” said John Tapper, owner of Greenpoint grocery store, The Garden. “Watch them sweep — they should be going five miles an hour and they go 15. Most of them just brush that stuff onto the sidewalk.”

Community leaders hope the city will reverse its position, or at least reduce parking requirements on some of the cleaner side streets in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

“We have to explore all the possibilities, but we’re not ging to give up until we get some satisfactory answers from Sanitation,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), who wrote a letter on Feb. 3 asking the Department of Sanitation to reconsider.

Contrary to local mythology, alternate-side parking rules did not begin when Dutch sailors were forced to move their fleet from the Hudson River to the East River — in fact, the policy has bedeviled drivers nearly every week since 1950.

But the parking rules aren’t without reprieves: the city has typically tweaked its requirements on religious holidays, after snowstorms, during traffic updates, and when neighborhoods deemed tidy enough request reductions in street sweeping.

In 2007, Park Slope residents asked the city to change its street cleaning schedule and the Department of Sanitation obliged, reducing street sweeps on residential blocks to two 90-minute intervals per week while increasing sweeps on commercial streets from four to six days a week.

Freeman Street resident Chris Gray, who owns a cheese shop on Manhattan Avenue, says the city should find a simliar compromise for Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

“The avenues are a mess but the side streets are okay,” said Gray. “Our store is at a weird eddy — there’s a swirl of trash here on a windy day. You see all kinds of crap blowing on Manhattan Avenue.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.