Kate Briquelet is frustrated and perplexed by what she has observed is an over-abundance of trash on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“There are simply not enough trash cans in Bed Stuy,” said the 26-year-old Briquelet, who lives on Hart Street and Tompkins Avenue. “There’s one on Pulaski, but I have to walk several blocks just to find a garbage can.
“Yesterday, I was walking my dog and she sneakily picked up something off the ground. When I forced her to drop it, out came a nasty, rotting fish head.”
In fact, chicken bones, fish heads, all kinds of food are constantly strewn over side streets, she added.
“It's like I'm walking through a garbage mine field every time I step out my door.”
However, not all of Bed-Stuy’s residents seem bothered by the piles of litter lining the streets. One resident, Victor, who lives on Lexington Street between Nostrand and Bedford avenues points out that most of the residential streets – which run east to west in the neighborhood – are kept fairly clean, and the majority of the litter can be found on the commercial strips.
He said foot traffic on those strips, naturally, generates more waste and that it’s the responsibility of the store owners to make sure their sidewalks are kept clean.
“On my street, it doesn’t bother me,” he said with a shrug. “Trash is a normal thing in a city like New York. But eventually, sanitation comes and picks it up.”
Don Freeman, who lives on Kosciuszko between Bedford and Nostrand avenues, thinks the litter isn’t a problem at all. As a lifelong resident of Bed-Stuy, he said he has observed a big improvement in the cleanliness of the neighborhood’s streets over the last ten years.
“I think it’s gotten better,” said Freeman. “I’m satisfied; they’re cleaning constantly around here. But they need to get rid of that bicycle path on Myrtle Avenue…”
But Briquelet, who moved to the neighborhood two years ago, feels that trash pickup is inconsistent in the neighborhood, and the reasons is because the Department of Sanitation does not see Bed-Stuy as a priority.
“I think it’s the city’s responsibility, but it’s also local residents who aren’t pitching in,” she said. “And to make it worst, you can’t even escape to the parks, because there’s trash on the perimeter, in the plants and on the benches.”
Henry Butler, chair of Community Board 3, said that he hasn’t gotten any calls of complaints at his office about a trash problem. He said, if residents are observing excessive trash in front of storefronts or anywhere else, they should call the community board so that they can report it.
“People have to learn to start complaining to the right people,” said Butler. “If you’re just complaining to people on your block, nothing’s gonna get done. The first step that needs to be taken is to call the community board office, and then we’ll make sure there’s an investigations of that area.”
But Briquelet said she has called the Department of Sanitation and filed a complaint. She is now waiting to see if anything improves.
“Somewhere on Bedford Avenue, maybe a bit south of Lafayette, someone chained a sign to a fence that says ‘Bed-Stuy not Pigsty. Keep our Neighborhood Clean,’" said Briquelet. “Yet... Bed Stuy's main avenues continue to be filthy.”
How do you feel about the litter in Bed-Stuy? Do you view it as a problem or not?
If you'd like to file a complaint about trash in a specific area of Bed-Stuy, contact the office of Community Board 3 at 718-622-6601 or the Department of Sanitation by calling 311.
If you'd like to file a complaint about trash in Von King Park, contact the New York City Parks Department at 311.
To view other stories on litter in Bed Stuy: