Residents along 165th Avenue in Howard Beach say their quality of life is severely compromised by overgrown weeds covering sidewalks and hiding garbage bags left by illegal dumpers. The smell of garbage fills the air, rats are running wild and the sidewalk from Crossbay Boulevard to 82nd Street have all but disappeared under the growth.
The Forum visited the site after being contacted by several residents who say they are frustrated because it’s not clear which government agency is responsible for the cleanup of the problem area, which lies along the perimeter of city property and Gateway National Parkland.
Sanitation Department Deputy Commissioner Vito A. Turso told the Forum on Tuesday morning that he would send a supervisor to the area to determine the best course of action.
A Gateway employee parked at the scene on Tuesday said he had offered to cut the weeds along the guardrail but was told it was not his agency’s responsibility. In addition, he added that the lack of cleanup from the guardrail to the curb has prevented Gateway from cleaning the interior after the storm.
City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office confirmed that he has assigned a staffer to the problem to see that it is rectified quickly. “Our residents should not have to fight red tape in order to preserve their quality of life,” said Ulrich.
“A usual solution to this is that people get frustrated and burn down the weeds,” said one resident who asked not to be identified. “Fireman’s lives are at stake when that happens and so are our families and our property. It would be nice if someone would just come and clean up the avenue. I thought that was why we agree to pay such high taxes.”
Among the top concerns of area residents is the garbage that is buried under the overgrown weeds which brings the rodent population onto the streets and to their homes, as well as the health hazards and the stench from the garbage and the overgrown vegetation.
Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Commissioner Turso called The Forum with good news for residents to say that after the site was inspected a lot cleaning crew would be dispatched to the area next week, after they have finished with other clean-ups as a result of the storm. Commissioner Turso estimated that it would take roughly 4-5 days to complete clearing the weeds.
Residents are encouraged to call The Forum and report any sightings of illegal dumping along 165th Avenue or any other problem locations. We will be happy to help you to report the problem to the proper agency and any reward initiatives associated with preventing illegal dumping.
By Patricia Adams