UPPER WEST SIDE — Residents on the Upper West Side are growing increasingly alarmed by mountains of recycling bags that are stacking up along the avenues and side streets of the neighborhood after regular recycling pickup was temporarily suspended in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The Department of Sanitation announced on Nov. 9 that "recycling collections suspended since Hurricane Sandy will resume Sunday, Nov. 11," but there are still piles of bags awaiting pickup.
Many residents have been busy returning to their routines, catching up after a week of school and office closures and volunteering in disaster relief efforts, but some are starting to get agitated about the mounting piles of recycling lining the streets.
Upper West Sider Beth Efran called the neighborhood a "city of garbage" and voiced concern about when the bags were going to be picked up. The overflow is making walking down the streets difficult, she said, because you "can't pass [by] with strollers."
Paul Swyer, a representative from Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal's office, acknowledged that "since the storm, the [Department of Sanitation] has been working overtime to clear out the debris [elsewhere in the city]," and has had interruptions in service to the neighborhood.
Swyer also said that the storm has exacerbated the Upper West Side's rat problem. "All the rats that have been underground have flooded all the way above ground," he claimed.
Members of Community Board 7, including Chairman Mark Diller, voiced concern about how the slow resumption of normal recycling pickup might feed the rat problem.
Yet others, like Mary Hogan, who lives near Riverside Park, said she was willing to overlook the reduction in services.
"I'm willing to give the city some slack on this since things are so dire downtown and elsewhere in [New York]," Hogan said.
Jesse Bodine, director of constituent services in City Councilwoman Gale Brewer's office, said that "recycling pick up should be up to date by Sunday."
However, he noted, "[the pickup] is a balancing act of picking up as much as possible without creating major congestion along the side streets."
In a statement, Kathy Dawkins from the Department of Sanitation said that regular recycling pickup resumed on Sunday, but that "equipment and personnel are being deployed to help fellow New Yorkers begin to restore their lives."
"Sanitation is making every attempt to continue to give all areas of the city the recycling and refuse collection services they deserve but service may be slow and we ask for New Yorkers’ patience," Dawkins said.