Neighbor to Neighbor: Queens parks volunteers discuss recycling issues

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Early spring showers welcomed volunteers of the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces to the Parks Department’s Overlook in Kew Gardens on March 21. It was a soft rain but still very wet. As usual, the organization’s president, Fred Kress, arrived at the organization’s monthly meeting with a huge amount of goodies to be shared with attendees.

Plastic bags may be a problem as far as recycling is concerned, but they are a blessing when one must transport a large amount of hand tools, paper, food and beverages from a car, up a hill and into a building while trying to run between raindrops. Luckily, our very cooperative Queens Outreach Coordinator Tom Panzone volunteered to help Fred, so neither of them was totally soaked.

The special guest for that meeting was Tom Fitzgerald from the Department of Sanitation Community Affairs. His topic was “Plain Talk About Recycling and Sanitation Issues.” The recycling issue was of particular importance since April 1 resumed weekly collection and once again glass bottles and jars are to be included.

Please note that all recyclables must be clean. Recycling is a labor-intensive, expensive process only made more efficient if everyone cooperates. It is not a hard task to make sure things are properly separated and clean. The benefits of helping recycling succeed is up to each of us. It is imperative if we don’t want to someday be forced to live in a dump, literally.

I hope you care enough to help. I’m sorry to say that from the appearance of some of our local communities, there are those who are more than willing to turn our streets and properties into the beginning of that dump right now. On any day, even within a few minutes of having had the sidewalk and/or street swept clear of debris, someone will come along and thoughtlessly discard something no longer useful wherever the person happens to be.

Sanitation litter baskets are placed in heavily trafficked areas for the purpose of convenient disposal of incidental pedestrian discards such as candy wrappers, cigarette packages, fruit skins, etc. These litter baskets may not be used for household refuse or for the disposal of sweepings, or for use of storekeepers.

Fines for first and second offenses are $100, and for subsequent offenses the penalty increases to $200. If you attend public meetings and they discuss Department of Sanitation problems, try to learn as much as you can and then follow all the related laws because the fines for any violation of Sanitation codes are substantial.

For example, the minimum fine for littering the type material mentioned is $250, and the maximum fine is $450. If a vehicle is abandoned, the fine ranges between $250 and $1,000. The fines for illegal dumping range from $1,500 to $20,000 and vehicle impoundment if one has been used. Both the owner and driver of the vehicle are responsible for illegal dumping

The good news is if you can provide “information which results in the conviction of or the imposition of a fine or civil penalty for illegally dumping, the commissioner may offer to the individual a reward up to 50 percent of any fine or civil penalty collected or up to $500 when a criminal conviction is obtained but no fine or civil penalty is imposed.”

All of this important information and much more is contained in the revised February version of the New York City Department of Sanitation Digest of Codes, which Tom Fitzgerald was kind enough to distribute (along with other Sanitation Department information) at that meeting. His presentation was interesting and thorough.

He said he enjoys speaking to groups who will give him a choice of dates that are well in advance. His number is 1-646-885-5021. In the meantime, questions and comments relating to Sanitation Department matters should be referred to 311 or your community board. The rest of the meeting was devoted to discussing future events and to the distribution of Kress’ bounty provided for us.

Dates of future events are April 21, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., New Yorkers for Parks rally at City Hall Park and meetings with city council members at 250 Broadway. To register or for more information, please call 212-838-9410 or visit

The Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces will meet again April 28 at 7 p.m. at the Overlook. It’s My Park Day is May 15. Contact Tom Panzone to sign up or for more information at 718-520-5948. Join us for fun, fresh air, exercise, good health and good deeds.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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