There is strong reaction from local leaders in the Jamaica section of Queens after residents accused them of allowing the garbage problem to get out of hand, but the borough president said she was not even aware of the problem. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall was not aware of the trash problem in Jamaica, so she came to see for herself. She toured 107th Avenue with her staff and Yvonne Reddick, the local community board's district manager and liaison to the borough president
"This is ridiculous," Marshall said.
Reddick had seen pictures of the mess, but she said it looked worse in person.
"It's unbelievable," Reddick said.
Residents said they should have known about this all along. To hear them tell it, Reddick, Marshall and other elected officials have allowed this problem to get out of hand.
Marshall shot back, "Don't point your fingers. I didn't own this house, I didn't sell it to somebody, OK? But I tell you one thing — I don't like garbage all over my streets in Queens."
City Councilman Ruben Wills and Leroy Comrie said they don't like being piled on either.
"Me and Comrie and [Councilman] Eric Ulrich, it's not that bad in his district, have given money to [the Department of] Sanitation," Comrie said.
Wills said sanitation crews now empty city trash bins twice a week on Sutphin Boulevard and the agency has cleared several areas upon his request. Wills and Comrie have also partnered with volunteer groups.
"We're working with the Wildcat organization, the Kiwanis Club. We have a clean-up scheduled for April 16," Comrie said.
Comrie, who is running for borough president, said he is drafting anti-blight legislation that would impose stricter penalties, including liens on properties with severe trash violations. The legislation also seeks a reduction in time a landowner has to clear up property.
"You have to, right now, notify a homeowner, wait 45 days for a response from the homeowner or the owner of the lot to clean the lot," Comrie said.
As for the current borough president, Marshall said she is actively trying to solve the problem. Both Marshall and Reddick said the area will be cleaned up, but is is not known when that will happen.