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Astoria Needs More Trash Cans to Combat Litter Problem, Some Locals Say

 One resident is petitioning for more trash cans along 31st Street, under the N/Q elevated train line.
Litter in Astoria
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ASTORIA — When Frank Sicoli moved to Astoria from Long Island three years ago, he quickly noticed one major difference about his new neighborhood: the trash.

"I was surprised by just the casual nature of littering," said Sicoli, 34, a philosophy professor who lives on 31st Street between Astoria Boulevard and 28th Avenue. 

"We get buried in trash — I'm out there in the morning picking up what I can, but you just can't keep up with it."

Sicoli said he's working with City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.'s office to request more trash cans along 31st Street, a busy thoroughfare that runs underneath the N and Q elevated train line. Both he and Vallone's staff will be sending letters to the Department of Sanitation, Sicoli said.

He says he recently counted just one trash can between the nearly half-mile stretch of 31st Street between Astoria Boulevard and bustling 30th Avenue, where he's noticed the most prolific littering takes place.

"They're getting out of the subway, you have the food carts the convenience stores on every corner, they're buying stuff, they're walking, and there's no trash cans so they're throwing it on the street," he said.

Ned Dzaferoviz, 32, works as a super for a building on 31st Street near 28th Avenue and says he's constantly sweeping up discarded trash from the sidewalk.

"It's everyday," he said, saying he cleans up each morning, only to find more debris again a few hours later. "I come out in the afternoon and I'm like, where did it come from?"

But a Department of Sanitation spokeswoman said the department has done walkthroughs along 31st Street with local elected officials, and deemed the locations to be residential and not applicable for city trash cans.

Waste baskets are only placed in high-trafficked pedestrian areas like subway stops and shopping districts because cans in more residential areas tend to become dumping grounds for people's personal household garbage, the Department said.

Maria Mihialoff, an Astoria resident for 35 years, agrees that more cans would only add to the neighborhood's littering problem.

"More trash cans are going to mean more trash in the streets," she said, saying it would be more effective if the city cracked down on ticketing litterbugs instead.

Sicoli said that while he knows more cans wouldn't solve the problem completely, he thinks it would be a good start.

"If people don’t see garbage cans, they think, 'Well, nobody cares anyway,'" he said. "I think, symbolically, that pail represents that trash has to go somewhere."