By Alexander Dworkowitz
This summer the stench of garbage on some Queens streets may get a little stronger.
As part of a plan to bridge its massive budget deficit, the city has proposed reducing residential garbage pickups for all of Queens.
The suggestion has drawn heavy criticism from many in Queens, who say the borough’s apartment buildings in spots such as Astoria and Flushing simply cannot handle the extra trash.
The city Department of Sanitation picks up trash from homes twice a week. Under the 2003-2004 fiscal year plan, the pickups would be cut to once a week, said John Pampalone, a spokesman for the Department of Sanitation.
Queens and Staten Island were chosen for the cut because they have lower population densities than Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, Pampalone said.
“There are a lot of one- and two-family homes [in Queens],” he said.
The reduction is intended to save $11 million a year. Bloomberg hopes to gain an additional $13.3 million by reducing recycling pickups from once a week to every other week throughout the city.
The changes, which must be approved by the City Council, are slated to go into effect before July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year.
“In general, these are difficult times,” Pampalone said. “We are New Yorkers, and we have to make some adjustments. Times will get better.”
Community leaders, however, called the plan an “outrage.”
“It would cause a lot of problems,” said George Delis, district manager of Community Board 1 in Astoria, a neighborhood that is home to a large concentration of apartment buildings. “You’re going to have garbage all over the place — blown garbage that just blows away naturally. It’s the craziest thing you could possibly think of doing.”
Community Board 1 wrote to Bloomberg in late March urging the administration to cut alternate side street cleaning instead of garbage pickups.
“If you want to talk about making the city a deplorable place to be, this will do it,” Delis said of the mayor’s plan.
Adrian Joyce, the resident manager of the 352-unit Stanton Condominium on Union Street in downtown Flushing, was equally upset.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” he said. “We don’t have the facilities to store that much garbage. … If you have that much garbage sitting around for a week, the smell becomes unbearable.”
Joyce noted the cut goes against the city’s plan to start bringing additional sanitation services to downtown Flushing with a Business Improvement District.
“Flushing is going to go back to what everyone said it was — that it smells and it’s dirty,” he said.
Pampalone said residents could take steps to help reduce the smell of the extra trash. He suggested people check to make sure their trash cans are in good condition and consider using a heavier ply of plastic garbage bag.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.