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Jamaica man trashes leaders over garbage

Joe Moretti is tired of seeing garbage accumulate all over Jamaica. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Joe Moretti’s pride in his neighborhood becomes apparent when he starts to list all of Jamaica’s best attractions.

He can tell you which park was named after one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence (Rufus King Park), where to grab some good eats (Sangria Tapas Bar & Restaurant) and where to check out an architectural gem (Loew’s Valencia Theatre).

He can also catalogue just about every spot in Jamaica where trash gets dumped and seems to sit forever, and he is on a mission to make that list much shorter.

Moretti stood outside a vacant lot on the corner of Foch and Merrick boulevards on a temperate day last week, one of the spots he said is a notorious dumping ground. The chain link fence surrounds a fallow lot of overgrown weeds, a few tires and some black trash bags heaped up along the side of the fence.

About a year ago, Moretti started to take note of the trash problem in his neighborhood, and when he came across the lot, which was filled with just about anything and everything one could think of, he started making complaints with the city Department of Transportation.

He said the owner of the empty lot eventually came out, put the garbage in bags and tossed them in a pile.

That was last June.

“It’s a year later and now the bags are breaking open,” said Moretti, frustrated with the department, neighbors and elected officials who he said have a lackadaisical attitude toward the problem.

Moretti grabbed his camera and started walking around near his home — documenting areas where trash was piled up on sidewalks, near storefronts and on vacant lots — and posted them online as a YouTube video entitled “Jamaica Queens Garbage Problem set to The Spinners ‘It’s a Shame.’”

“These are not just isolated cases. This is all over Jamaica, and Jamaica’s big,” he said. “I only had to walk a five-block radius from my house. Just imagine what I’d find if I continued.”

Moretti recently sent a letter to a number of community leaders, including Community Board 12, City Councilmen Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), state Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica) and Borough President Helen Marshall, imploring them to come up with a comprehensive and permanent plan to address the trash issue.

If his neighbors have become complacent about seeing litter on their streets, Moretti is steadfast in his determination to see his community cleaned up.

“I live here. It’s my neighborhood and I have to see it on a regular basis. It’s depressing,” he said. “How are any respectable businesses or quality restaurants going to be convinced to move into the neighborhood when that’s the first thing you see?”

One solution, he suggested, would be for the city to enforce its litter and dumping policies.

“In Forest Hills you can’t blow your horn without getting a ticket,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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