Southeast Queens community leaders discuss enforcement of Waste Equity Law during Liberty Park town hall

Community members gather for a town hall about waste at Liberty Park on Aug. 24. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)

Resident of southeast Queens held a town hall on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at Liberty Park to discuss further actions to enforce local law 152, the Waste Equity Law. This law was introduced due to three communities handling an overwhelming 75 percent of New York City’s waste.

The law requires the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to reduce permitted capacity of waste in communities that are deemed as “overburdened,” which include Queens’ Community District 12 — encompassing Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village and south Jamaica.

“Even worst is the stuff that you can’t smell,” said Oster Bryan, president of St. Albans Civic Improvement Association. “The particulate matter and the effects it has on the people and children who play in the park, right across the street.” 

Bryan said other transfer stations in the city have more care to make sure the waste doesn’t impact the surrounding communities, some of which are in less-populated industrial areas.

“People live right across the street from here and this place isn’t enclosed,” Bryan said. “People have been requesting for quite some time that they enclose the location and put things into effect so we don’t smell this or have to inhale the particulate matter that has cognitive effects on children, such as asthma and cancer.”

A waste truck at Liberty Park on Aug. 24. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)

The main point of discussion of the town hall were the next steps in regard to recording any activity in violation of the law.

“I can’t open my windows. I can’t breathe. If I want to take my children to the park I have to take them to St. Albans Park,” said Carol Fords, a concerned member of the community. “Its not fair. People wait at the bus stop and get the smell on them. The smell is so bad it comes through the walls. I haven’t opened my windows in years. The trees are dying; they can’t handle the smell either.”

Carol Fords spoke at the town hall on Aug. 24. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)

“You buy into community because of convenience, public open space, public transportation — and this is what we get,” said Crystal Urban, a local homeowner.

Andrea Scarborough, a community resident, spoke at the town hall. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)
William Scarborough spoke at the town hall on Aug. 24. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)

Residents were urged to call 311, even if it is anonymously, and complain about the private solid waste transfer stations on Douglas Avenue — especially if they are experiencing any conditions such as odorous air contaminants emissions (which violate NYC Code 24-141), dust conditions, water or sewer run-off, litter adjacent to property and more.

A script was even provided to help steer their complaints into a more effective direction. Approximately 55 18-wheelers travel through the neighborhoods carrying 16 tons of waste daily, with no end in sight, according to community leaders.

A waste truck at Liberty Park on Aug. 24. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)

Community members also have a petition against a waste bill — Intro 2349-A — that was introduced by local Councilman I. Daneek Miller, which they argue won’t benefit the community.

Community leaders distribute scripts and petitions. (Photo by Willie Velazquez)

“This Int. 2349-A only benefits the waste transfer organizations and the elected official that gets funding from these organizations, at the expense of the district they represent,” the petition reads. “There is no waste equity in NYC. It is community abuse and neglect in disadvantaged areas. This is why we have to get environmental lawyers to help us — our elected officials won’t and don’t support us.”

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