Sick of the stink: Sunset Park locals implore BP to help fix trash overflow

September 5, 2019 Kelly Mena
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Residents of the Chinese community in Sunset Park are tired of the stench when it comes to garbage overflow on a busy commercial corridor, and this week called on the borough’s top official to help clean up the neighborhood.

Business owners and community leaders claim that the heavily trafficked Eighth Avenue corridor at the heart of the borough’s Chinatown needs extra attention. A group of community leaders, including members of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, guided Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams down a major stretch of the commercial avenue on Tuesday pointing out the overflow of litter that is causing major sanitation issues.

“By noon, this can is full. So you’re talking about from 12 to 8 or 9 o’clock, the garbage can is overflowing,” said Steve Tin, 68, a longtime Sunset Park resident and business owner.

“I think they should collect garbage one time in the morning and one time in the afternoon.”

One of the offending cans.

The corridor, known for its specialty shops, live lobsters and many markets is a favorite for any up-and-coming business, as the number eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture.

The group has a specific list of demands that, for now, is limited to two: a litter basket on every corner and pick up more than once a day.

“These changes would be very helpful. Right now when people put their garbage in, it just stacks on top. When I get a cup of coffee from a local bakery, I want to be able to dump it easily into the bin, but right now I can’t,” said Jim Zhen, local community leader.

Adams stopped short of committing himself to delivering on the trash pick-up demands but did say that small incremental changes like trash bags could be an easy fix.

“Let’s have an ‘adopt-a-trash-bin,’ where the Department of Sanitation can give garbage bags to the corner stores,” Adams told the Eagle. “And then we want to look at [the Department of Sanitation] and see if we can have more than one trash pickup on this corridor. I’m not sure how they go about coordinating that, but I am going to have a conversation with them.”

Currently, the city’s sanitation agency picks up on the corridor on a daily basis, according to department spokesperson Belina Mager, blames the overflow on the merchants.

“Many times, litter baskets are overflowing due to chronic misuse — that is, businesses use them for their waste, and residents use them for household waste,” said Mager.

Mager went on to note that any businesses that have issues with trash are required to hire their own private hauler — that is not under the jurisdiction of the city.

Adams pushed back against this claim, saying that community members are attempting to follow the law, but it’s the city who is not doing their part.

“This is a signal that the residents want to comply with the litter law but the city is basically in non-compliance.”

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