By Madina Toure
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), along with civic leaders and residents, rallied in College Point to protest the illegal storage of industrial materials and debris on public spaces.
Last year, Avella was able to get the city Department of Sanitation’s help in eliminating the problem, which he said has occurred at the intersection of 124th Street and 28th Avenue. At the time, several businesses misused public space to store heavy steel beams, bricks, pallets and waste, according to Avella.
But when he drove by the area a couple of weeks ago, he discovered that the illegal activity was taking place again. He contacted the Sanitation Department and the city Department of Transportation to alert them to the problem.
He commended Sanitation for taking action before but said the agency needs to take a more aggressive approach.
“This is simply unacceptable and the fact that it’s across the street from the new Police Academy just makes it so much more absurd,” Avella said.
Avella said it is difficult to determine which businesses are responsible for putting materials on the sidewalk, but several businesses are doing it, including Y Star Plumbing at 123-01 28th Ave.
Keith Mellis, assistant chief for the Sanitation Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs, said Y Star Plumbing received a notice violation in 2014 for sidewalk obstruction.
He said the department does not have jurisdiction to investigate storage of industrial materials.
“The Department of Sanitation Enforcement Division is monitoring this area for compliance and will take the appropriate actions when warranted,” Mellis said in a statement.
Herman Wu, Y Star Plumbing’s receptionist, said that five containers consisting of plumbing materials and pipes came in around Friday and that the driver was rushing them and they did not have time to put everything in the warehouse. He said that the containers have since been removed.
“The street is so clear now,” Wu said. “There’s nothing there.”
A DOT spokesman said the agency has been making daily inspections in the area since last week and will continue to issue summonses upon each inspection until the industrial materials are completely removed from the area.
Jim Singletary, president of the 28th Avenue Block Association, said his wife, Jennifer, almost got hit by a car while trying to avoid the sidewalk due to the storage of materials.
“I can’t believe what’s happening,” Singletary said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour