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New Street Signs Remind Uptowners to Pick Up After Themselves

By Nigel Chiwaya | March 19, 2014 9:24am
  The signs in English and Spanish have popped up around Inwood, asking residents not to litter. 
Inwood Anti-Littering Street Signs
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INWOOD — Inwoodites are deploying a new weapon in their battle against uptown littering — they're asking nicely.

Inwood residents and business owners have started hanging whimsical anti-littering signs around the neighborhood in an effort to get locals to pick up their used food wrappers, bottles and dog waste.

Two variations of the green signs in English and Spanish have popped up in subway stations, in businessses and on trees. The signs have light-hearted reminders of everyone's civic duty.

"Kindly pick up after yourself. We don't have maid service," one sign featuring a cross-looking maid says.

"If you love me, then you'll clean up after me," another reads, with an image of a wide-eyed puppy.

Arlene Schulman, who made the signs, said she was moved to action after reading constant complaints about littering on the Inwood Community group Facebook page and getting fed up at constantly having to dodge garbage and dog waste.

The city's 311 service records show six complaints for dirty conditions in Inwood since the start of the month, including two for loose rubbish and two for canine violations, which can include dog waste.

"It's like a minefield out there," said Schulman, who moderates the Inwood Facebook page. "It's a real community effort to remind everyone of their civic duty."

The problem has gotten worse in recent years, after several "Curb your dog" signs posted by the Sanitation Department disappeared.

Businesses that have helped print and laminate signs include La Marina, Mamajuana Cafe, Inwood Gourmet, Dichter Pharmacy, City Kids Preschool, Indian Road Cafe and New Heights Realty. The offices of City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat have chipped in, too, and the Explorer Scouts from the 33rd and 34th Precincts will help distribute the signs.

Inwood Gourmet owner Lauren Skoulatos said she was happy to print and laminate signs, saying that she is "on a mission" to solve litter and dog waste problems along Cooper Street, where her store sits.

"I would like to be able to see my sidewalks clear of dog poop and of trash," she said. "Somebody has to take a stand and tell people that it's not acceptable to leave trash around."

"The streets around here are terrible," added Indian Road Cafe owner Jason Minter. "218th Street doesn't look too good." Minter donated laminating paper to the signage effort, and said he'll hang a sign in his door as soon as he gets one.

This isn't the first time the signs have appeared in Inwood. They were created more than a decade ago by the Inwood West Neighborhood Association, with a grant from the NYPD Model Block program. For this new effort Schulman, who have lived in Inwood for more than 20 years, decreased the size of signs to make them easier to print out.

The anti-littering signs would work in any neighborhood, Schulman said.

"There's no locale on them. They could do just as well in Queens and Brooklyn."