By Mark Hallum
Stacks of abandoned tires have been seen littering the side of the highway around 73rd Avenue and Clearview Expressway in recent months.
The Department of Transportation, which believes this is the work of one outfit dumping entire truckloads at once, has been regularly required to haul the garbage away. The city agency has been quick to remove the tires, diligence which was praised by City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) at a Tuesday news conference.
“The area alongside the Clearview Expressway is protected parkland, and no part of New York City, least of all our parks, is to be used as a private dump,” said Grodenchik, referring to nearby Cunningham Park. “As a community, we spend a lot of time and effort keeping our parks and neighborhoods beautiful, and this illegal tire dumping is an affront to our work.”
Grodenchik and Weprin were adamant that the DOT should not be burdened with hauling off tires and the perpetrators must be prosecuted. Elected officials and the DOT employees are in agreement the stacks average around 200 tires and are neatly off-loaded from a truck.
Iggy Terranova from the Department of Sanitation said the proper way to dispose of spent tires is with a vendor which specializes in reselling them or with the Sanitation Departent, which takes up to four tires per day from residents, but does not accept commercial disposals. According to Terranova, the tire dumping next to the Clearview is the work of a commercial entity.
“Illegally dumped tires are more than just an eyesore for Queens communities. Waste tires hold standing water, offering mosquitoes a place to breed, and even pose a safety risk for drivers on the road who look to use the shoulder,” Weprin said.
Grodenchik and Weprin walked reporters and attendees to the spot of the most recent dump removed by DOT, near the shoulder of the southbound 73rd Avenue exit of the Clearview Expressway. The grassy area with newly planted trees qualifies as the edge of Cunningham Park.
“They [DOT] have been very vigilant in removing it. The last dump that just occurred was about 383 tires they said. They’re clearly on top of it and patrolling the area along with Highway Patrol. I think we’ve been catching the incidences right after they occur. Nobody’s actually been caught in the act. It’s been done in the middle of the night.”
The Department of Sanitation operates an illegal dumping award program in which individuals who provide them with details of incidents can collect on half the fines levied from those found responsible. Witnesses are also encouraged to call 311.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall