Monday, September 24, 2007

Bye, bye Pacific Street blight, thanks to citizen action

What a difference a handful of people and some garden tools can make. After yesterday's clean-up effort on Pacific Street bordering the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, a 50-yard stretch was bushwacked, clearing overgrown weeds (four feet high, and blocking the sidewalk), significant amounts of waste and debris, and recyclable bottles, all the result of governmental neglect of a site the Empire State Development Corporation deems blighted.

(Above: Deb Goldstein and Jon Crow get to work shortly after noon. Below, some of the result nearly five hours later.)

The tally

The tally, according to organizer Deb Goldstein, included 17 42-gallon bags of garbage, a large assemblage of weeds and greenery for composting (below), and 13 bags of recyclables. The area next to the railyard seems to be a magnet for Poland Spring water bottles, other drink containers, foot tins, random glass, some clothes, compact discs, fast food wrappers, and even diapers.

A representative of the Department of Sanitation came by, I was told, and said the agency might stop back. At the least, the department has garbage bags and recyclables to collect.

(The turnout was modest, eight people working in shifts, though it likely would've been larger if other Atlantic Yards-centric volunteers and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn supporters had not been at Kids Disco Don't Destroy. This was not a DDDB event, but organizer Goldstein is the sister of DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein.)

Who's responsible?

Shouldn't the city and/or MTA have been taking care of this all along? (Here's Metro's coverage, which acknowledges the confusion.) The answer is that the state punted.

Remember, as I noted, in response to complaints about the upkeep of the railyard and its perimeter, the ESDC, in the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement, ignored the issue of responsibility:
Chapter 1, “Project Description,” and Chapter 3, “Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy,” describe in detail the present condition of the project site, including the Vanderbilt Yard.

"Ratner filth"

Given the provocative signs posted at the end of the event--Community Clean/Ratner Filth and "We Are Not Blighted. Don't Dump On Us"--it's a good bet that some official agency will, at least, remove the signs.
(Photos by Norman Oder and Deb Goldstein)

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