The “broken windows” theory is alive and well in Red Hook
Early on July 10, a blue Chevy SUV was set aflame on a cobblestoned stretch of Beard Street near Dwight Street, facing a former shipyard where Ikea is building its first Brooklyn store, cops said.
Police don’t know why the truck was set on fire — maybe for insurance money, maybe to cover a crime — but in the week that followed the blaze, the auto carcass has turned into a dumping ground.
“People see that it’s a place that they can get away with dumping things, so they dump things,” said one Beard Street resident, noting that a week after the fire, none of garbage had been picked up.
First came an assortment of forsaken business supplies, including a Formica display case and some crates filled with packaging from new auto parts.
A day or two later, a cardboard box of dog-eared religious texts was left on the cracked sidewalk next to the charred SUV. A reporter noted a copy of the “Book of Mormon” in decent condition and a paperback biography of Mother Theresa lying near the top of the stack.
The Beard Street resident said the abandoned car — and the mini-dump it has spawned — reminded him of an abandoned city plan to build a waste transfer station at the end of the stree.
“Dumping a waste-transfer station, a big-box furniture store, or a burnt out automobile on the block amounts to the same thing,” he said. “Red Hook has always been a dumping ground and that is not changing.”
Five cars were burned on the same block between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15 last year, another neighbor said.
Red Hook Fairway developer Greg O’Connell, who owns buildings on Beard Street, said that the block once was even more of a magnet for trash. He remembers catching people illegally dumping tires near the warehouse that now houses the gourmet grocer.
“Now there’s more eyes on the street, so the dumping doesn’t happen the as much as it used to,” he said, adding that when Ikea opens next year the security cameras and crowds will force the dumpers to go elsewhere.