Watch out northeast Queens merchants the city Sanitation Department is sending Operation Dumpster your way this week.
A four-week education period run by the Sanitation Department ended Monday when enforcement of Operation Dumpster, a program requiring commercial businesses to keep garbage dumpsters off the sidewalks until right before collection time, was scheduled to begin.
Enforcement, the department said, means the possibility of a summons and fines of up to $250 for businesses that fail to comply. Operation Dumpster originally began as a pilot program in 1998 in 10 community boards throughout the city and this month marks the citywide expansion of the citys efforts to keep sidewalks clear.
Sanitation Department Commissioner John Doherty said in a statement that Operation Dumpster improves the citys quality of life by eliminating unsanitary conditions and reducing sidewalk clutter. Clean communities attract more visitors and result in increased profits for local merchants.
But at least one Bayside business owner has voiced frustration about the program.
Chris Axamidis, owner of Goldstar Diner on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 42nd Street, said it was unfair of the city to impose such restrictions on businesses without offering an alternative.
What about my restaurant and other restaurants that dont have ... any other place to put the garbage? he said. There are no options. I like clean neighborhoods, I like to pass by the streets and not smell the garbage in the dumpsters, but you have to come up with a solution.
Axamidis said his business has no access to the rear of the property and uses the basement to store food and other supplies for the eatery.
I dont want to have the food next to the garbage, he said.
The provisions of Operation Dumpster require commercial businesses to store garbage inside or at the rear of their premises, to put refuse out one hour before closing time if a private carter collects garbage after closing time. If a private carter picks up during the day, the Sanitation Department said, garbage can be put out within two hours of collection time. Businesses could also arrange for additional pickups from their private carters, the Sanitation Department said.
Businesses with dumpsters on the sidewalks must move them to the rear of their property or inside or, the Sanitation Department said, use 65-to-90-gallon containers or heavy duty plastic bags that can be rolled or carried out of a building. Operation Dumpster also prohibits a business from leaving garbage out over the weekend.
At least two Queens community boards have been a part of the original Operation Dumpster pilot program: Community Board 2 in Woodside and Glendales Community Board 5.
Cathy OLeary, a community associate with CB 5, remembers when Operation Dumpster was first established in that western Queens community about 10 years ago.
We pushed the issue and pushed for strict enforcement, said OLeary, who said CB 5 sought the enforcement after complaints about smelly, garbage-filled dumpsters blocking the sidewalks. It does really improve the overall appearance of the area.
OLeary said CB 5 got some complaints from merchants, even after putting out leaflets in the community explaining the program.
It took some time, she said. Some businesses moved out. It wasnt anything that happened overnight.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2002 Community News Group
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