Owners Eye Street Woes

Talking Trash & Repairs In Ridgewood

Street conditions dominatedHomeowners’ Night” at the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) last Thursday, Sept. 4, at I.S. 93 auditorium.

Property owners got a chance to meet face-to-face with representatives of various city agencies during a “Homeowners’ Night” forum hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development last Thursday night, Sept. 4, at Ridgewood’s I.S. 93.

Representatives from nine different city agencies were on hand to tackle concerns voiced publicly and privately by property owners during and after the special forum, which was cohosted by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

But rather than dealing with issues inside their properties, attendees focused much of their attention on various issues observed on their block and major thoroughfares around the neighborhood. Agency representatives offered tips on how to report problems and information on possible resolutions.

The panel include Jason Chen of the Department of Sanitation; Karen Ellis of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); Peter Goslett of the Department of Transportation (DOT); Desiree Johnson of the Department of Health; Ken Lazar of the Department of Buildings; Tonya Rapley of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods; Frank Richards of the HPD Code Enforcement Unit; Fred Riley of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA); Rob Roman of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS); and Reasa Semper of the Department of Finance.

Among the issues attendees raised during the forum was the illegal disposal of trash along Fresh Pond Road since public waste baskets were removed last year. Chen explained that the Sanitation Department frequently conducts enforcement operations to catch and ticket dumpers.

The agency can only issue summonses if they observe dumping in progress, it was noted.

Paul Kerzner, former RPOCA president and currently the civic group’s counsel, defended the removal of the public waste baskets as successful, with compliance observed at almost all of the intersections on Fresh Pond Road between Eliot and Myrtle avenues.

The cans were removed, Kerzner noted, because local residents and business owners illegally dumped their trash there, rather than in receptacles in front of their homes or places of business. The abuse would continue, he claimed, if the public baskets were brought back.

“We’d love to have the baskets back, but the problem is too many people abuse them, and will do it again,” Kerzner said. “Until we have enough confidence that people won’t abuse them, we won’t get the cans back.”

Another Ridgewood resident claimed illegal dumpers left a mattress propped up against a tree in front of his home while he was away on vacation. Upon returning, he said, he discovered that the Sanitation Department issued several tickets for alleged illegal dumping of the mattress.

Chen stated the homeowner could make his case with the Environmental Control Board, which handles Sanitation Department violations. A judge could dismiss the violations if the owner presents enough evidence to prove he was not responsible for the condition.

An attendee also asked the city to install “Curb Your Dog” signs around the neighborhood to encourage canine owners to pick up after their pets relieve themselves on public sidewalks.

“People who don’t curb their dogs won’t read the signs,” Kerzner said. He suggested that residents call 311 if they know of locations in which dog poop is a frequent problem. Sanitation Department enforcement personnel will be alerted to such locations and conduct undercover enforcement operations.

Chen stated violators caught failing to curb their dog face fines of up to $500.

Residents living in the vicinity of Fairview Avenue and Harman Street called for action to fix a sinkhole near the intersection which, they claimed, has gone unaddressed for months. Though both the DEP and DOT were alerted to the condition, they stated, the agencies bounced the problem off each other, but failed to properly fix it.

“The DOT keeps putting asphalt on it, but it’s not going away,” one resident said.

Ellis stated she would consult with the DOT to take corrective action. Generally, the DEP is responsible for repairing any sinkhole if it is determined the condition was caused by broken sewer or water lines or a faulty catch basin or manhole cover.

Asked about when bioswales-curbside, plant-lined devices which catch rain water- would be installed in Ridgewood, Ellis stated the DEP is continuing to determine where the bioswales will be installed in the Board 5 area. She anticipates the agency will soon present a list of locations to both RPOCA and Board 5 by the end of the month.

Helpful tips

While introducing themselves to the crowd, several agency representatives offered general advice to homeowners.

Chen noted that Sanitation Department enforcement officers are a regular presence in Ridgewood, and often check residential blocks on weekdays between 8 and 9 a.m. and 6 and 7 p.m. to ensure compliance with sanitation codes. This includes cleanliness of the sidewalk and proper disposal of trash.

Semper alerted homeowners to a rise in deed fraud cases around the city and urged residents to check their property records on the Finance Department’s website, www.nyc.gov/finance.

Riley advised residents to check the DCA’s website, www.nyc.gov/dca, before hiring a general contractor to ensure that they are properly licensed and check for possible complaints. Anyone who believes their contractor broke the law while working for them should also reach out to the DCA for assistance, he noted.

Roman also invited those interested in caring for foster children to attend a Sept. 18 recruitment forum at the ACS’ Manhattan office, 150 William St. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/acs.

The next Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday night, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center, located at 59-14 70th Ave.

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