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Bad brew of traffic, trash and graffiti

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Trash and traffic were the subjects du jour at a town hall held by a local politician.

Residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights complained about garbage and graffiti, speeding vehicles and careless drivers during the event, hosted by State Senator Marty Golden, which was held at St. Anselm’s School, 83rd Street and Fourth Avenue.

Residents of 78th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenue, turned out en masse to complain that the B4 bus hurtling down their block sets off car alarms on a regular basis. “The bus goes by every half an hour all night,” one woman noted. “I have to sleep with the fan on.”

“Let’s not forget the bus is speeding most of the time,” noted one man. “That’s a 20,000 pound bus going 35 MPH.”

Drivers on cell phones and those who make illegal U−turns were other sore spots, as were cars parked on the sidewalk. In response to the complaints, Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, noted that the precinct’s officers were “very well aware” of the sidewalk parking problem, which is particularly troublesome in the high 80s and low 90s, near Fourth and Fifth Avenue. In 2008, he said, the precinct issued 1,528 tickets in all for the offense; this year, so far, the precinct has already issued 527.

Rodriguez acknowledged that graffiti −− an issue, Golden said, that is “really starting to hurt us” −− has been increasing in the area. But, Rodriguez said, the police have been making an effort to combat the problem. So far, this year, he said, the precinct has arrested, “21 people, mostly kids.” And, he stressed, “If we get enough proof, we do get a search warrant on your house.”

As for trash, Golden himself complained that the neighborhood’s shopping strips were “filthy. What can we do to get additional sweeps or baskets or whatever?” he asked.

“You need money,” Ignazio Terranova, citywide community affairs officer for the Department of Sanitation (DOS), told Golden. In fact, he said, a lack of funds was the rationale behind DOS’s decision to pick up from avenue trash baskets only once a day, rather than twice a day as had been occurring in recent years.

But, Terranova added, that doesn’t mean the streets have to be dirty. “Every has to take part in cleaning New York City,” he told the group.

One woman complained about the pace of street sweepers. “Years ago, they used to go slowly down the block,” she recalled. “Now they speed down the block and the brushes blow the dirt all over.”

Another issue was sewer backups. One man, who lives at 85th Street and Ridge Boulevard had he had been “having backups in the basement for over a month. Sometimes I can’t go down there,” he complained. “I’ve made numerous complaints, and they (the Department of Environmental Protection) say there’s grease in there.”

“We usually experience sewer backups after it rains,” explained Humberto Galarza, of DEP. “We try to degrease the sewer as much as we can, but we rely on you to contact us.”

Rosemarie O’Keefe, the former commissioner of the city’s Community Assistance Unit, asked about summonses. “What’s with all the tickets?” she wanted to know.

“We believe there are too many summonses given out,” Golden replied. “The number given out for bus stops and fire hydrants has increased in great numbers. So have non−emergency summonses. When you find a meter maid on Sunday morning, on Narrows Avenue, Ridge Boulevard or Sixth Avenue, that’s not on a commercial strip. That’s not moving traffic. That’s hunting for summonses.”

However, Rodriguez noted that, the precinct was 10th out of 13 precincts in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, in terms of the number of summonses issued. Indeed, he said, compared to last year, parking summonses were down in the precinct, as were summonses for moving infractions.

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