By Alexander Dworkowitz
Amid fears that the cuts to the city Department of Sanitation will leave Flushing’s streets flooded with garbage, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) went downtown Wednesday to see the problem firsthand.
Miller, one of the most powerful politicians in the city, accepted the invitation to get a glimpse at a sanitation problem which Flushing residents claim is plaguing their neighborhood.
The speaker walked down 40th Road, the same block that former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman had toured in the fall and labeled the dirtiest street in Flushing.
Miller inspected a garbage can on the corner of 40th Road and Main Street that had been emptied just two hours before.
“It’s already three quarters full,” Miller noted.
Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) explained that if the cuts to the Department of Sanitation go in as they are currently written, garbage pickups in downtown Flushing will drop from daily to twice a week, leaving no place to throw away trash for cans that fill up quickly.
“We learned a lot today,” said Miller after he and his aides toured Flushing.
Miller had toured four neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, inspecting areas of the borough that would be hurt by budget cuts. Before visiting Flushing, he stopped at PS 19 in Corona and spoke with Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Jackson Heights) about the city’s most overcrowded school.
“I think it’s important for us to remember the fact that not everything happens within two miles of City Hall,” he said.
Miller rode around in what he called a “Budget Bus.” The vehicle, however, was simply a black van.
“We need your help,” Myra Herce, executive director of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, told Miller.
Liu, who invited Miller to Flushing, pressed him on an issue he has called essential to the Queens community.
“People are not going to want to come here if there is trash on the street,” said Liu.
While all of the city gets its trash picked up twice a week, downtown Flushing and other select areas get supplemental service, which provides for a daily pickup. The two councilmen are pushing Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restore the supplemental service, which has been cut from his preliminary budget.
Liu suggested that other revenue sources, such as the commuter tax, be investigated in order to fund the supplementary service.
Miller was asked if he thought the outer boroughs received less than their fair share of the budget.
“We certainly hope not,” he responded.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.