NBC News 4 New York NYC's Upper East Side Weary of Trash Talk by Andrew Siff
Manhattan's Upper East Side has long prided itself as perhaps the city's most desirable enclave, but some residents there are wrestling with a particularly undesirable development: overflowing trash cans.
"The garbage blows around, then it's horrible and it's an unsanitary condition," complained Joe Puglisi.
Bags of garbage are routinely piled in the vicinity of 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue, where workers are building the Second Avenue Subway line.
City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district encompasses the area, said his office has been inundated with complaints about the trashy appearance of the neighborhood. And he's seen the problem firsthand.
"There's trash everywhere," he said.
Kallos contacted the MTA, which is building the subway line, and the city Department of Sanitation in an attempt to solve the problem. He said he discovered that the two bureaucracies were basically trash-talking to each other.
"And with both agencies pointing the finger at each other...we need a resolution," he said.
An MTA spokesperson told NBC 4 New York that the construction project isn't "the root cause. It is a highly trafficked intersection with several restaurants, coffee shops, and residential buildings."
A sanitation department spokesperson counter-punched: "It’s a very disruptive construction project and we have been working with the community, businesses and the MTA to provide whatever relief we can."
Valerie Mason of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association said that sanitation workers have exacerbated the problem by replacing large trash bins with smaller wire cans.
"We have too much trash for those cans and they're constantly overflowing," she said.
Sanitation crews brought in the smaller cans because the large bins were being smashed by the Second Avenue construction workers, the agency spokesperson said.
Just when residents thought things couldn't get worse, the local CVS pharmacy encountered problems with its private trash hauler.
"Unfortunately, we have recently experienced periodic service issues with the trash hauler, which has resulted in our trash bags occasionally being left outside overnight," said CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis. "When that has occurred our store staff is required to bring the bags inside the following morning until the evening pick up time."
CVS is working to resolve the problem, he said, adding that the store is prohibited from using the trash containers set up for the construction projects.
Meanwhile, Kallos is attacking the problem with a supply-and-demand solution: he's supplying more trash cans to quell the neighborhood's demand that something be done about all the garbage.
"We don't have enough trash cans," he said. "My office has invested $40,000 on 38 trash cans."
The new cans are expected to arrive any day now.