Neighbor to Neighbor: Litterbugs should clean up their acts this spring

By Barbara Morris

Something very nice has happened: Spring has arrived — finally.

For a while, during the winter, I was afraid we weren’t going to have any complaints in August about excessive heat. I thought we might remain in a frozen state forever. That, of course, did not happen. Spring came, right on schedule, to spend several weeks with us before disappearing momentarily.

Let’s all enjoy and prosper from the visit. We regularly associate spring with showers, flowers and cleaning. As the winter’s white, snowy blankets got dirtier and dirtier and finally washed away, the leftover debris was an unpleasant reminder that bad habits had returned to southeast Queens with regard to littering and other offenses.

One of our Department of Sanitation supervisors informed me that he has planned to start trying to correct the situation. He is going to start a ticket blitz for offenses that are bringing our neighborhoods down aesthetically and in matters of public health. The starting date was to be April 1.

Since there still is a possibility of frozen precipitation in April, as noted from history, you are responsible for clearing your sidewalks or you may be given a summons. The time frame used for that, and for failure to store garbage receptacles after Sanitation has emptied them, is 24 hours.

The faster you clear the sidewalks after the last snow falls, the better off you will be by not only helping to stave off the summons, but by helping to prevent the potentially larger expense of being sued by someone who falls on that unshoveled piece of cement.

Sidewalks must be kept clean and the street in front of your home or business must be kept clean within 18 inches from the curb. If you have a rear driveway, that too must be kept clean.

With regard to bulk items, no more appointments are necessary to dispose of such things. Remember to place large metal items such as refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, etc., out with recyclables on your specified date. Removal of refrigerator doors is an absolute necessity.

Every once in a while, I see someone dumping garbage into sewer catch basins, which is illegal. The catch basins are where they are to drain water off the street, as unimpeded as possible, to prevent flooding and to send runoff water, as unpolluted as possible, to the main body of water.

After being processed, some of that water may enter the drinking-water supply, so extreme caution should be taken to protect this valuable resource. Please do not break these important laws or other important laws, such as those pertaining to posting signs.

Putting signs on any public property is illegal, and those who commit this offense can and should be given summonses. Postings plastered on traffic signs obliterate the messages for proper speed, the necessity to stop, etc., and they may also cause an accident.

Besides hoping that those who post these signs are forced to pay for their arrogant disobedience of the law, I hope the products they try to sell or the messages they carry are not supported. Please try to consider someone else.

Littering is a sign of disrespect for your neighbors, your community and yourself. Think how you would feel if you had just cleaned the property for which you are responsible and immediately after that someone threw or dropped some kind of debris there. It is not a nice feeling.

Our merchants are particularly at risk in this regard and should be supported. Remember, the business districts of communities mirror not only those who work there, but those who live and send their children to school there. If our children are not taught to obey even the simple laws of public sanitation, it does not bode well for the future of southeast Queens’ property values.

Although only a few merchants seem to be participating in the Adopt-A-Sanitation-Basket project, I hope everyone will join as soon as possible. All it requires is to have a merchant insert a plastic bag, supplied by Sanitation, into a basket in front of the store, tie it, remove it when full (leaving the full bag beside the basket) and replace it with another empty bag.

Let’s all work together, get to know and like each other and improve our communities.

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