Walking through the residential communities of Jamaica, South Jamaica, Hollis and St. Albans, it doesn’t take long to notice the overrun pollution from homes bleeding out into the streets.
According to recent reports, these communities made up of nearly 20 percent of the borough’s trash complaints in 2013. Of the 4,628 trash complaints, the Department of Sanitation reported cleaning 289 lots, or 34 percent of the nearly 861 city-managed tidying efforts throughout Queens.
Groups like Cleanup Jamaica Queens Now surfaced early last year to document what they see as injustices throughout their community, putting a call out to their elected leaders for change. The Department of Sanitation, however, recently said in published reports that the problem is more complex than they could have imagined.
“It’s not, you call me today and a lot gets cleaned tomorrow,” a spokesperson with the DSNY said, explaining that the department has to obtain individual permits for each property before going in to clean up the mess. “Each lot is different. It’s a process.”
However, as the community now sees new hope with a voice in the Borough President’s office - former Jamaica Councilman Leroy Comrie was recently appointed deputy borough president – they can only wait to see if more focus is shifted their way.
While the permit process to remediate contaminated and overrun properties can be such an arduous process, the angry Jamaica residents deserve a new look and action to crack down on the problem.
Now that the litter has been more than adequately documented, the city should consider legislation to increase dumping penalties and fund an emergency cleanup of a portion of the borough that so many feel has been left in the dumps.
Not only would it have an effect in southeast Queens, but neighborhoods across the city that have to deal with run-down abandoned homes and absentee landlords, including all of the problems that come with them, such as rats, disease and lower property values.