Talking trash in Sheepshead Bay

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Residents of Sheepshead Bay fed up with the trash that litters their streets will have a chance to take matters — and brooms — into their own hands this weekend.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) is hosting a community cleanup day on July 27, offering to provide the brooms, rakes, and trash bags, but asking his constituents to supply the elbow grease.

Duetsch hopes the event will do more than just spiff up the streets, but also inspire locals to keep the trash from piling up in the first place.

“It’s an effort of not only cleaning up the neighborhood, but reminding people these are our streets — we want to keep them clean.”

The neighborhood’s ongoing trash problem — with trash cans overflowing onto sidewalks, gutters clogged with cups, crumpled cigarette packs, and food containers, and litter piling up like snow drifts against buildings — has been a frustration of locals and their elected officials for years as they struggle to get the city to acknowledge the issue.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) met with Joe Lupo, the borough superintendent for the Department of Sanitation, and took him on a tour of the area last week.

Cymbrowitz showed Lupo the trouble spots — the underpasses by the train station, the overflowing wastebaskets, and the litter along Emmons Avenue — and he said the tour showed Lupo to understand the severity of the problem.

“He admitted that work needs to be done — and he agreed to do it,” said Cymbrowitz. “He was able to see why I was angry.”

Deutsch’s clean-up will focus on Sheepshead Bay Road, but locals say street trash is a problem throughout the area.

“The whole neighborhood needs a clean up,” said Tom Paolillo, a board member of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association.

According to Paolillo, one of the most trash-laden areas is Emmons Avenue.

“That gets pretty filthy,” he said.

Paolillo said he believes much of the trash he sees comes not from locals but from visitors who pass through to take boat tours launching from the piers near Emmons Avenue and leave behind their trash when they depart.

“It is the people who visit the area on the weekend — their cups, their bottles,” said Paolillo.

Many locals are calling for the city to put more trash cans in the neighborhood, but Deutsch said the root of the trash problem is residents illegally dumping household garbage into sidewalk trash cans, leaving no room for the street trash the bins are intended for. He said more wastebaskets wouldn’t solve Sheepshead Bay’s trash problem if people continue to fill the wastebaskets with household trash.

“Wastebaskets are necessary, but we need to do enforcement to make sure people just don’t dump household garbage,” said Deutsch.

Chaim Deutsch’s Community Cleanup (Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue in Sheepshead Bay) July 27 from 10 am to 4 pm. Rain date Aug. 3.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
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