Trash cans be gone, and the trash with them

Don’t look now, but, in a couple of weeks, a few trash cans may have gone missing along Fourth Avenue.

Specifically, the garbage receptacles at the strip’s intersections at Bay Ridge Avenue, Ovington Avenue and 68th Street may be removed, as part of a month-long test approved recently by Community Board 10, which voted unanimously in support of the effort.

The question to be answered is whether having no trash can at the corners will result in less garbage than having cans there.

Last summer, noted Greg Ahl, chair of the board’s Environmental Committee, the can at the corner of Bay Ridge Avenue and Fourth Avenue disappeared for about three weeks.

While the can was missing, no garbage accumulated at the corner, he told fellow board members gathered at the Knights of Columbus, 13th Avenue and 86th Street, for their February meeting.

“The difference was incredible,” Ahl stressed. “There was absolutely no garbage on that corner. The can returned. So did the garbage.”

The corner of Bay Ridge Avenue and Fourth Avenue makes a particularly good test because, “It’s a hub,” Ahl stressed. “It’s got the subway and several bus lines. It’s a major intersection. We felt it puts the test to the limit.”

Aparticular target of the test is the household garbage that is routinely deposited in street cans till they are overflowing. The Department of Sanitation (DOS), said Ahl, reports that a whopping, “80 percent of trash in baskets is household garbage, so they are absolutely being abused.”

But, while more and more residents appear to be utilizing the corner cans, they are getting emptied less frequently, Ahl said, telling his listeners that DOS has cut pickups by 60 percent, “So by Saturday afternoon or Sunday, it’s really disgusting.”

It won’t take long to get the cans back if the test fails, board Chairperson Joanne Seminara added. When the question was asked of DOS, she said, “The answer was we could get them back almost overnight.”

The corners will be monitored, said Ahl, who told his fellow board members that he would keep a photographic record so that a determination could be made whether the corners are cleaner with or without the baskets.

While the original motion was to remove the cans at Bay Ridge Avenue, board members decided to add the intersections on either side, to make sure the test was, as board member Stephen Harrison put it, “broad enough.”

Nonetheless, the feeling was that people who toss their household trash in corner baskets would be unlikely to walk it any distance. “The reason they are doing it,” noted Bob Cassara, “is that they are too lazy to bring it to the basement.”

There was concern as to whether those living or working near the intersections might object but, said Ahl, “The businesses and residents in the area have been notified,” and, he added, no one had called or attended the meeting to voice an objection.

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