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Lack of Trash Cans Leaves Greenpoint Streets Strewn With Litter

By Meredith Hoffman | February 4, 2013 7:28am

GREENPOINT — As she walked her dog one recent morning, Danielle McGunagle steered her pup away from broken glass, an old mattress, plastic bags and a chicken bone strewn on the sidewalk. 

"It's dirty and it's dangerous," she said of the West Street and Franklin Street blocks in Northern Greenpoint, an area that has no public trash cans. "The streets are filthy, rife with broken glass, trash, discarded mattresses and auto parts, even construction debris."

McGunagle and other residents insist the Greenpoint blocks by the waterfront are rife with harmful debris for canines and humans.

But the city claims that trash cans are not necessary in the industrial area.

"The department has received and investigated requests for litter basket placement for West Street and Franklin Street in Brooklyn," a spokeswoman for the Department of Sanitation said.

"The department determined that these locations did not warrant litter basket placement because the area is industrial with low pedestrian traffic."

But McGunagle and her husband, Greg McGunagle, said the streets are a popular dog-walking route, and owners had to search for spots to dispose of their dogs' waste.

"It's hard because you have to walk around on Franklin to find a garbage can," he said. "Even then you have to put it in somebody's private [can]."

Some residents said they hoped the city's planned Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a remodeling of West Street to make it more pedestrian and eco-friendly, would eventually solve the issue. 

But others said the city could easily fix the problem now.

Longtime resident and activist Laura Risi Hoffmann said the trash and dog excrement on the streets would subside if the city just changed its "logic."

"They'll say that if they add trash receptacles ...it will have to be picked up," Hoffmann said. "Duh! Isn't that the idea? So it's a choice for the Department of Sanitation and for citizens — trash thrown on the street or more pickups."