For everyone (meaning all New Yorkers) who’s ever thought that there’s got to be a better way to deal with trash – better than just putting out plastic bags after 8pm – Amsterdam comes to the rescue.
The new proposed system would operate like a typical garbage chute, but the trash would not just go down into the visible bin, but deeper, underground, into a holding bin.
This bin would then be hoisted, out of its hole and emptied by crane into a garbage truck. It’s an amazing idea for a city like New York that also does not have alleys, at least in Manhattan, to store rolling bins, access trash storage in the back, etc.
25th Precinct Community Meeting Tomorrow at 6:00
The National Black Theater Building’s Crane, At Night
NY Magazine’s Intelligencer has a great interview with the head of NYC’s DSNY. Jessica Tish answers it all below:
I want to read you a quote from a Streetsblog article that came out in March of last year: “In conversations with policy experts, architects, elected officials, and former city workers, one word came up repeatedly to describe the city’s relationship with garbage — inertia. The greatest and richest city in the world is being embarrassed by other municipalities when it comes to nearly every facet of how we generate, sort, store, and recycle more than 12,000 tons of waste every day.”
You were hired a month after that article came out. Did you feel that inertia when you got to the job, and to what extent has it had an impact on what you’ve tried to do so far? I absolutely felt that inertia, and overcoming that inertia has actually brought a lot of the energy to this department over the past year, because we want to do everything we can to change the paradigm in New York City. I have long said that for the past decade or two, most cities around the world have really innovated in the ways that they handle and manage their waste. And New York City really hasn’t. So in a short period of time, we are trying to basically play catch-up.
One thing that’s historically been an issue is a lack of interaction between city agencies like the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Transportation. Before this job, you ran the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Did that experience help you in terms of setting up better coordination with Sanitation? When Mayor Adams came in, he was very clear with all of us that he wanted to take a one-city approach. What I have seen and felt over the past year that I’ve been working in this administration is a very different paradigm vis-à-vis how agencies work together. And I’ll give you a few examples.
There were certain parts of the city that really look and feel like city streets but technically aren’t considered city streets: medians, greenways, the service roads next to highways, underpasses, overpasses. But there was this old agreement dating back several decades that took the jurisdiction for cleaning those parts of the city away from the Department of Sanitation and gave them to other agencies that weren’t positioned to clean them. And Mayor Adams came in and basically tore off that old bureaucratic agreement and said, “No, we need to give jurisdiction and responsibility for cleaning these areas to the agency whose core competency is cleaning.” And I felt a lot of support and partnership from, for example, the Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, in helping us ramp up and in transitioning that responsibility over.
More recently, the department got jurisdiction to clean the highways, which in my opinion were absolutely filthy. For the past month and a half, we’ve had about a hundred sanitation workers a day out there doing a full makeover. And that too was an interagency effort. The Department of Transportation has been incredibly helpful in getting us started up, both in terms of the equipment we use and helping us with routing. So I think you’re seeing Mayor Adams’s one-city approach in action.
How do you measure progress on stuff like this? We’re obviously talking about an enormous area and tons of workers. Do you have stats for garbage the way CompStat tracks crime? Oh, I love that you just asked that question. My background is at the NYPD. I spent 12 years there, and then two years during the pandemic running the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. When I showed up at Sanitation, one of the things that I wanted to do was really define metrics for success and have this be a much more data-driven operation than it has been historically. And so about two or three months ago, we created our own CompStat at the Department of Sanitation. It’s called TrashDash.
Catchy. And it is very much modeled after CompStat. What we do is we take, for example, 311 complaints about miscollections or dirty conditions and we look at the numbers citywide, by borough and by district — week-to-date, the 28-day period, year-to-date. We publish it every Monday morning at 11 a.m., just like they do with CompStat at the NYPD. And every week on Thursdays, we bring a different borough in and the executives here grill each borough on their stats. Some of the stats are customer-related — what are our customers telling us? And other stats are workforce efficiency. So, yes, we have definitely become a much more data-driven organization, and we’re using data, different sources of data, to inform how we think about our performance. But in sanitation, some of it is very qualitative. We have great before-and-after pictures that I see every day as they’re cleaning the highways. They recently finished the BQE, as an example. And with some of those things, a picture really says a thousand words.
Though I was in a cab to JFK the other day and noticed lots of trash in green spaces and everywhere else along the route. Yeah. And we’re doing both. We’re doing the street sweeping on the roads, but we also have several teams a day doing litter-picking in those green spaces. I think you were probably driving on the Nassau Expressway. We have teams there for the next several weeks now that we’ve finished the BQE and the Major Deegan and a few others. That’s an example of a place where people who come and visit New York City from out of town and fly into JFK — it’s their first impression of the city.
It’s bad. First JFK itself, which is slowly getting better, and then — It’s got to look as good as New Yorkers do.
There are also so many in-between spaces in the city — areas that may border multiple buildings, but it’s not always clear whose responsibility they are. And that seems to be where trash piles up the most. It is the city’s responsibility to clean the parts of the city that the city owns: the streets, the overpasses, the underpasses, the highways, the greenways. And I think what you’ve seen from this administration is the mayor has really invested in doing just that, and the Department of Sanitation is stepping up to the plate and getting it done. But cleanliness in New York City is a shared responsibility. The Department of Sanitation has 10,000 employees and we clean a lot of different spaces. The sidewalks happen to be the responsibility of the property owners. So property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalks cleaned.
To read the rest of the Q+A, click the link, below:
On Tuesday, June 13th, at 7:00 PM, HNBA will hold our final in-person monthly meeting before our summer break. On June 13th we’ll be meeting at the Henry J. Carter Hospital – enter at the corner of 122/Park. We’re working on getting local elected officials and DSNY on hand to talk about what can be done about the multiple and complex issues of trash in our community.
If you’ve got an idea, a solution, an offer, or anything else to do with trash, litter baskets, and more, you are welcome to join and help us collaborate on this issue.
In addition to looking at the trash issues in our community, we’ll also have virtual tour of the amazing Carter Hospital, and discuss voting in the June 27th primaries (that will determine who is Harlem’s new city council member).
(Below is a map of litter baskets in upper Manhattan)
Residents & Business Owners of Sector Charlie! Join Neighborhood Coordination Officers Lau & Hackeling for their Build the Block on Mar. 16 at 5pm, @ 85 East 125 Street. Not sure this is your sector? Visit http://ow.ly/iUc250MZFC2 & type in your address to find out.
Set Out Times
Dear Fellow New Yorker,
As part of our commitment to keeping our streets clean, the NYC Department of Sanitation is implementing:
A new rule to reduce the time that trash, recycling, and curbside composting will sit on sidewalks. The new rule goes into effect April 1, 2023.
We invite you to join us for an upcoming Info Session to learn more about these exciting changes! Please register at the link below. If you are unable to attend, you can learn more at nyc.gov/SetoutTimes and nyc.gov/curbsidecomposting.
A protest against this bill is scheduled for December 7th:
Harlem Schools’ Trash
You’ve likely encountered this. Piles of trash near NYC Schools and filth that the Department of Education seems to get away with. Now members in Harlem are calling for cleaner streets around New York City public schools and are asking the DOE to follow the same rules enforced on their neighbors in the community.
Join Mattaya and the Hi-ARTS community on August 5, 2022 from 12-3 pm for the Reveal and Celebration of Musa as well as a Planting Workshop with artist Tasha Dougé.
This July we welcomed Mattaya Fitts as our inaugural ONE WALL MOVEMENT muralist. All month she worked on Musa,a mural that now adorns Cherry Tree Park in Harlem, NY. Free & open to the public. Just show up!
Musa Reveal & Celebration August 5, 12-3 pm
Planting Workshop with Tasha Dougé 1:30-3 pm
A creative planting and community intention setting exercise curated by Tasha Dougé. Tasha Dougé is a Bronx-based, Haitian-infused artist, artivist and cultural vigilante. Her body of work activates conversations around women empowerment, health advocacy, sexual education, societal “norms,” identity and Black community pride.
Workshop capacity is limited to 20 participants. No registration necessary.
Free & open to the public. Just show up!
“At a time when much feels heavy and uncertain, I am interested in conveying themes of personal growth, rest, joy, and transformation. This mural addresses self-care as an extension of community care.” — @mattayafitts
The weekend weather looks amazing. Hope you can come out to the neighborhood-wide stoop sale:
Demolished Church Lot and Trash
Before the pandemic, the brownstone Metropolitan Church at the corner of 126 and Madison was demolished and a fenced-off rubble lot was left. A number of neighbors have complained about dumping and trash build-up on East 126th Street.
If you see trash building up, please contact 311 immediately: