Sanitation officials acknowledge the city is dirtier, as workers are diverted from garbage to snow
According to the Department of Sanitation, through the end of last week we have already seen 58 inches of snowfall so far this winter. That’s more than twice the amount of snow we’ve received last year — and it’s resulted in what residents say is roughly twice the amount of garbage in the street.
Upper East Side residents, in particular, have not been pleased with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ability to handle the snow and resulting trash.
“I see more mess,” said East side resident Emma Lang. “I really feel he wants to get back at the people who live in Manhattan.”
As New Yorkers grow more impatient, some have looked to pass off the blame elsewhere. The Department of Sanitation commissioner, John J. Doherty, has been taking the fall for the mismanagement of snow and the buildup in garbage, despite his 30 years of experience. “I keep waiting for the picture to be in the paper with goat’s horns sticking out of my head, like I’m the goat of the storm,” he told the New York Times. “We got a black eye, I think my reputation, and the reputation of the department, has been seriously tarnished.”
Constantine Mitides travels from Queens and said his commute to work has almost been impossible some days. “Instead of cleaning the streets, they just shove the snow off to the sides and then there isn’t even a place for the garbage to go. It just piles up,” he said.
According to the Department of Sanitation, street cleaning has caught up and is back on schedule as of last weekend. While many of the main avenues appear to be in good shape, if you walk down any side street you are welcomed by empty coffee cups, plastic bags, thrown-out brooms, and unclaimed recycling.
“Due to the recent rash of snow storms with sub-freezing temperatures and blustery winds, trash and recycling collection was delayed throughout the city,” Kathy Dawkins of the Department of Sanitation told us. “Keep in mind that the sanitation workers who normally pick up trash and recycling are the same ones who drive salt spreaders and blow snow.”
The upshot: one person can’t do two jobs at once, which means the answer for all of us is to wait for the thaw, and for the garbage to, finally, disappear.
For more debate on the state of our dirty city, see Voices, on p. 8.
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