The trash talk ends in Red Hook as Van Brunt gets its garbage cans!

Van Brunt Street is a mess ever since the city removed garbage cans. But hours after our photographer snapped the evidence, the city announced that new pails would be coming.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Red Hook won’t be down in the dumps anymore.

Five years after the city removed garbage cans from Van Brunt Street, contributing to a chronic litter problem on the commercial heart of Red Hook, the Department of Sanitation said it plans to deploy new trash receptacles on the street this week.

“[We’ve] taken another look at the area and we will be placing seven new baskets on Van Brunt Street,” said Kathy Dawkins, an agency spokeswoman. “One of the criteria is that it’s a highly trafficked area. Five years ago it wasn’t. Now it is.”

The city removed two bins five years ago, before Van Brunt Street’s remarkable commercial turnaround capped by the Fairway supermarket, though the thoroughfare still has many shuttered retail venues and vacant lots.

Of course, the neighborhood resurgence only added to the waste. And now, trash-strewn sidewalks are a common site.

“It’s increased by the virtue of the activity of new stores and restaurants and, of course, the major addition of Ikea [which is nearby on Beard Street] and Fairway. Their plastic bags are windblown throughout the area,” said John McGettrick of the Red Hook Civic Association.

“We’ve not had the street-side containers that can handle the refuse that [the stores] generate,” he added.

The city is hoping to sweep those bad memories under the carpet.

The sudden intervention by the Bloomberg Administration came one week after an article in our sister publication, Courier Life, which reported that a local business organization had still not obtained trash cans it promised to purchase for Van Brunt Street with a state grant from three years ago.

The organization, the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, secured $200,000 from the Albany in 2006.

An official from the group said that before a portion of the grant could be spent on wastebaskets and other streetscape accoutrements, it first had to spend $175,000 on building renovations, money used at the popular café Baked and on the soon-to-open Fort Defiance.

“It’s been a very successful program,” said Elizabeth Demetriou, the group’s director of revitalization and development.

She said her group would still plan to buy 10–15 specially designed receptacles to handle Van Brunt Street’s blustery conditions and replace the standard repositories the city cans. They could be ready, at long last, this fall.

“A prototype was very popular with the sanitation workers,” she claimed.

— with Jacob Kleinman

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