By Kathianne Boniello
The protesters, longtime residents living near the dump area at the intersection of Baisley Boulevard and 172nd Street, said they have been complaining about early morning construction, rats, insects and garbage at the site for months and have gotten no response from local officials.
Local officials could not be reached for comment on the site by presstime Tuesday.
“It should be secured and the dumping has got to stop,” said Saundra Pope, a protest organizer and former state assembly candidate. “This is terrible. They should put it someplace else.”
Ronald Townsend, who lives near the lot, said “if they can do all this work here, they can build a school here or a community center – something.”
The large, open site is surrounded by mountains of dirt and features a single gate that is easy to walk around. While the outside edges of the lot are covered with dumped tires, boxes, broken bottles and other garbage, the interior has several construction vehicles, old sewer pipes and piles of wood and concrete.
Residents said the site is now owned by nearby Rochdale Village and the area had served as parking for the Jamaica Racetrack, which closed in 1959.
Now, they said, the ongoing dumping and construction at the lot are a neighborhood disturbance.
“To have all the dumping here and nobody's responding to it – it's just horrible,” said Robert Homer. “It makes it look like a dump.”
Homer, who has lived in South Jamaica for 27 years, said the early morning construction at the site, which sometimes begins at 5:30 a.m., shakes nearby homes and creates unbearable noise.
Several protesters said the garbage dumped at the site attracts seagulls, insects, and a large number of rats to the neighborhood.
Arthur Young, who has lived several blocks away from the lot for more than 40 years, characterized the city's response to complaints about the lot.
“Poor, little or nothing,” he said.
Pope said the site should be relocated.
“They should be letting us know if they're building something,” she said.